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April 1, 2021

A Communication Structure to Get in the Loop & Aligned! Part 1

 

I think George Bernard Shaw said it best when he said, “The greatest problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished!” I find that to be the case in many dental practices today. More relationships are destroyed because of poor communication than for any other reason.

I have the privilege of working with dental teams nationwide facilitating my Rise & Shine Culture Camps. I consistently observe concerns with the communication structure in dental practices. What I mean by communication structure is the actual flow of communication. It is what is necessary to keep everyone in the loop and on the same page working together for the greater good of the patients, practice, and team!

An effective communication structure starts with establishing a clear flow for communication and clarifying expectations to the team.

  • Who to go to or does it differ for specific areas? For example, do they always go to the office manager or is there a specific person for equipment repair, ordering supplies, or team, and patient concerns, etc.?
  • When to meet? Always consider who needs to know what information and when do they need to know it?
  • What is the decision-making process and how is it communicated to the team? Who will make the final decision and how quickly can it be made? I suggest trying to resolve within one week after being discussed at weekly management meeting to keep the practice moving forward. Try to resolve immediately if it pertains to the schedule that day.

 

The communication structure will differ based on size of practice and number of locations. For example, if you have one doctor and five team members in a single location versus 5 doctors and 45 team members in multiple locations.

The communication structure in a small one location practice without a manager would simply be doctor to team member and team member to doctor. As simple as that sounds it does not necessarily happen. I often observe a doctor or team member going another team member to share their concerns instead of going to each other. It is called gossip and is divisive.

The communication structure for practices with a manager would flow from doctor to manager and manager to team member and reversed team member to manager and manager to doctor. Even this simple communication structure can be difficult to maintain if the doctor and manager deviate from the flow.

It becomes more complicated when there are multiple locations and more team members with different shifts or start and end times. Larger multiple location practices with team leads would utilize the following communication structure. Doctors to director of operations, director of operations to location manager, location manager to team lead, team lead to team member. The reversed would-be team member to team lead, team lead to location manager, location manager to director of operations, director of operations to doctors.

Doctors may not always need to be included in the flow of communication depending on subject matter. The director of operations may make the decisions to expedite the process and keep the doctors in the loop at their scheduled monthly leadership meeting.

Implementing this communication structure will help to keep everyone in the loop and aligned!

Tune in next month to learn about what meetings are necessary to support your communication structure.

 

 

February 1, 2021

 Bye Bye to Bullying Behaviors!  

 Bye Bye to Bullying Behaviors!  

I have the privilege of facilitating Rise & Shine Culture Camps for dental teams nationwide!  The Culture Camp is focused on co-creating a happier, healthier, and higher performing service culture!  Each Culture Camp varies greatly as they are customized to fit the specific needs of the practice culture.

I often observe behaviors of team members and doctors that undermine the culture.  In many cases unbeknownst to the person.   They are unaware of how negatively their behavior affects the team, practice, and patients.   A conversation to enlighten awareness is often enough to halt the unhealthy behavior.

However, there are other toxic behaviors that are intentional such as pot stirring, gossiping, and bullying!  This message will be focused on Bullying.

The dictionary defines Bullying as the use of force, coercion, or threat, to abuse, aggressively dominate or intimidate. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception (by the bully or by others) of an imbalance of physical or social power. This imbalance distinguishes bullying from conflict.[1] Bullying is a subcategory of aggressive behavior characterized by the following three criteria: (1) hostile intent, (2) imbalance of power, and (3) repetition over a period of time.[2] Bullying is the activity of repeated, aggressive behavior intended to hurt another individual, physically, mentally, or emotionally.  A bully deep down is insecure and fearful.  They fight these emotions by causing fear in others. Anyone can become a bully if they are fearful enough.

Most bully’s start out as a toxic performer.  A toxic performer is a team member who excels at their job and is toxic to their co-workers!  They are often told they are the best assistant or best hygienist etc. and start to consider themselves indispensable.  They have a Jekyll and Hyde behavior.  Doctors and managers make excuses for the toxic performer’s behavior.  They allow/accept it as a tradeoff for their skills and work performance.  I often hear doctors say, “I know Susie is difficult to work with.  We have even lost a few good team members because of her.  However, she is so good with our patients.   No one can do her job like she does.  If she ever treated patients like that, of course she would be gone!”   Excusing and justifying the negative behavior is what empowers toxic performers to continue them.  Left unchecked theses negative behaviors will escalate to bullying.

It is vital for the health of the practice culture to establish a standard for the practice declaring that the team must treat each other as well or better than they treat their patients to be a part of your team.  No exclusions and no exceptions.  Either they stop their negative behaviors, or they are no longer invited to be a part of the team.  Let them take their toxicity somewhere else.   We must never allow bullying in our practice.

We know who the bully or bullies are if we are on the receiving end.  But how do we know if we are the bully?  Bully is such a strong word, so we often avoid using it.  Read on to see if you demonstrate any of the following bullying behaviors.

 

Domination/Control Issues

As I mentioned, bullies are insecure and fear that others will find out.  They are filled with N.E.T.’s (not enough thoughts).  Not good enough, pretty enough, strong enough, smart enough or powerful enough etc…  They are driven to prove to everyone, mostly themselves, that they are.  They worry if they lose control they will get hurt.  They dominate others to maintain control.

Reflect to identify your control issues and find the underlying reason you feel the need to control everything and everyone around you.  Confront your insecurities and fears and change the internal dialogue to enough thoughts!

Emotional Reactors

Bullies are emotional reactors.  They are not in control of their emotions; anger quickly and lash out instead of taking time to understand.   Fear and anger can override better judgment.  There is very little to prevent a bully from acting on those emotions.  They may pride themselves on being direct when in truth their reaction is instead brusque. I refer to their reaction as The Emotional Reaction Cycle.  The Emotional Reaction Cycle is when something happens, meaning is assigned, the meaning generates emotions, the emotions drive a reaction.  The cycle can be stopped by respectfully asking to understand instead of assigning meaning and reacting brusquely.

Superiority Complex

Bullies often struggle with a superiority complex which promotes treating others as inferior.  They believe they are mentally, economically, socially, racially, or physically superior.  Their beliefs lead to lack of empathy and justification of dehumanizing actions.

Dehumanizing is when we stop seeing someone as another human being and instead categorize them by their religious, economic, social, and political affiliations, etc.  It is easier to be insensitive, degrading, disrespectful, and rude etc. to someone we have pigeonholed.  We identify and connect with certain groups and become intolerant and disconnect from other groups.

News Media and Social Media have become master pot stirrers trying to enrage and divide groups by planting explosive innuendos.  Much of their hype scraps end up being rumors and false information.

Instead have empathy and take time understand (research) other point of views.  When we interact with others, we are always coming from a place filled with our own experiences. Our expectations differ because of our unique and individual beliefs, opinions, and assumptions based on our experiences. These expectations become our personal truths upon which we base judgments of right and wrong. To help you remember the concept, see the first letters of each word; it spells out the word B.O.A.T. Beliefs, Opinions, Assumptions, therefore, are Truths based on our experiences.

It is important that we as individuals make a personal commitment to be open, respectful, and understanding of each other’s B.O.A.T.; it is what will enable us to communicate and interact effectively.  Choose to communicate with each other in a rational and reasonable manner.  Who knows, you may even shift your B.O.A.T.!  Always consider how you might make the other person feel.  Ask yourself, “How can I say what I need to say while still respecting how I make the other person feel?”  Here is a link to watch a video of me presenting on B.O.A.T.! https://youtu.be/xanv–CB2CY

Victim Mentality

Bullies refuse to accept the responsibility for their own actions and instead will shift blame to the someone or something else.   They don’t see their bullying behaviors as their fault.  Instead, they blame it on to the person they are bullying, the situation or other people.  “They made me act this way!” is a common excuse from bullies.  They see themselves as the victim in this case.  Even more incredulous is some bullies believe they are a hero because they were just protecting the practice or patients.  We choose our behaviors.  No one makes us act a certain way.  Be proactive and choose how you will show up each day!

I can help you!  Book a Rise & Shine Culture Camp and say bye bye to bullying behaviors.

November 1, 2020

How to Thrive as The New Kid on The Block!  Part 2

How to Thrive as The New Kid on The Block!  Part 2

Last month we focused on the first three steps to thrive as the new kid on the block.  They were building confident trust relationships, learning systems and processes, and balancing your role as the associate.

The fourth step in fitting in is by avoiding gossip.  Gossip is sharing anything that is negative or private about another person.  Listening is gossiping if you are not in a position that allows you to resolve the issue.  The listener plays a 50/50 role.  Because it stops if the person complaining has no one to tell.  I have found it works best to refer the person back to the source of concern to work it out instead of listening.  Instead of listening ask them if they have tried to talk to the other person.  If they say no, ask them to do so and stop the conversation.

People who engage in workplace gossip often have a strong need to “fit in” and feel that gossip will help them achieve this. Gossipers often suffer from low self-esteem and think that talking negatively about others will make them look better. If we truly grasped the devastating fallout from gossip, we would no longer accept it as the norm for any culture!

Gossip affects:

*             Patient care and experience

*             Team communication, performance, and relationships

*             Practice performance

*             Morale

*             Trust

*             Respect

 

The fifth step to fitting is to be approachable.  Do daily or weekly check ins with your team and owner doctor.  A simple question to ask, “Do you have any questions or suggestions for me?”   Avoid becoming defensive even if you disagree or feel hurt.  People will avoid defensive people.  You have a role as an approachee (the receiver of information).

The Approachee’s role is to start out by thanking the approacher (the person approaching) for respecting you enough to come to you. It is important to recognize that the approacher’s intent is good and to realize that it is not easy to approach someone.

Listen intently to hear.  Make eye contact with the other person.  Don’t take offense.  Instead of defending, deflecting, or blaming someone else consider how your actions or lack of actions affected the outcome.   Be honest with your response.

Acknowledge you heard and understand them.  Never assume.  If you are unsure ask questions until you clearly understand.  If you are thinking I think they mean this…ask more questions.

Don’t take it personal.  If the concern pertains to the patients, the practice, or the team it is necessary to address.  It can be difficult to hear when we are not meeting the standards or expectations.  However, it is necessary to address in order to create and sustain a happier, healthier and higher performing culture.

Take it seriously.  It may not seem important or be a priority to you, but it is for the other person.

Control your emotions.  If you are upset don’t just walk off in anger or frustration.  Instead, let them know that you need a little time to process the information they shared, and you will respond later and give them a specific time.  Try respond within 24 hours.

I like love to utilize the L.E.A.R.N. acronym when being approached.

  • Listen intently to hear what they have to say
  • Empathize by acknowledging their emotions
  • Apologize for the situation
  • React by sharing what you will do
  • Notify those that need to be aware of the discussion and decision

Here is an example how you can use L.E.A.R.N.  Your assistant is frustrated because she just started working with you and doesn’t understand what instruments you want and when.  It makes her uncomfortable because she has been an assistant for years and this makes her feels inadequate.  The conversation might sound like this.

“Thank you for respecting me enough to come to me with your concerns.  I can understand how uncomfortable this must be to work with a new doctor.  I am sorry that this is frustrating for you.  We will take some time to discuss what instruments I need with the different treatments we offer.  During the procedure I will ask for what I need.  We need to learn how to work together and that takes time.  So, let’s agree to have patience and support each other.  I will make sure I speak with the other assistants about tray setups as well to keep us all on the same page.  This will ensure that we all have a great day!” 

Instead of constructive criticism (which is an oxymoron) use positive verbiage and have a constructive conversation.

Following these five steps will help you thrive as the new kid on the block!

September 1, 2020

How to Get & Stay Positive!

How to get and stay positive has become much more of an effort for many of us than it ever has been in the past.  Just turn on the news or read Facebook for five minutes and you may think it’s Armageddon!  Fortunately, much of the information is based on sensationalizing the facts.

Life is too short to spend it being negative and worrying.  Especially when there are so many reasons to be positive.  Other people and situations don’t make us feel a certain way.  We do it all on our own by how we think.  If we practice mindful thinking, we will feel more positive.

Start your day on positive note by thinking positive thoughts while still lying in bed.  Plan to have a good day by visualizing feeling good.  Wiggle your toes and stretch while you are visualizing.  Imagine feeling a sense of contentment and well-being and you will start to feel it wash over you.  Acting-as-if shifts our perspective and the emotions follow.  I like to start my day positive every day.  It does not hurt that I love the person I get to wake up with every morning.  That would be my husband Steve…just to clarify!

During the day focus on staying in the present moment and being aware of your surroundings.  Look for the positive around you.  Play the I spy…!

  • What is interesting?
  • What is beautiful?
  • What makes you smile?
  • What is inspiring?

It could be a flower, artwork, or a hummingbird.  It could be a great chair to sit in and read or the view out your window as you sip a great cup of coffee.  Maybe you have a fur baby like me who tries to get your attention while you work.  Give thanks for what is.  I personally reset by thinking about how grateful I am to have my health, my family, and I love what I get to do.  It is impossible to feel negative at the same time you feel gratitude.  If you are a list maker, make a list of what you see and our grateful to have in your life.

Our energy ebbs and flows like a tide.  Be mindful of your energy.  Reset when you start to feel yourself victim thinking and having pity party.  A pity party is when we focus on what we are missing in our life and what we had.  It might be a loved one, a job, or even life in general.  The why me stinking thinking.  The should or shouldn’t have happened thoughts.  Should and shouldn’t thoughts always send our emotions spiraling downhill.

Victims stay stuck thinking about what should or shouln’t have happened!  Whereas, creators think, so this happened so now what…!  They observe the emotion, triage the situation, and take the next step.  They believe they will succeed.  Scientists know that strong self-belief goes hand-in-hand with higher levels of resilience.  This means that if you believe you’ll be successful, it’s likely you’ll also have a high level of control over your thoughts, feelings and actions.  The result? You apply more effort and persistence. You demonstrate more resilience to push through. And you achieve what you set out to do.

The more we are open to and embrace that:

  • Life is uncertain
  • Life is unexpected
  • Life changes in a moment
  • No one owes us anything

The happier we will be.  Try to find humor even in difficult situation.  Appreciate what you have and what is regardless of what happened and what isn’t.

Labeling something as bad creates negative emotions. Truthfully, how can we label something as good or bad if we do not know the end? None of us have a crystal ball. So how do we really know if something is good or bad? There have been many things in my life that at the time seemed difficult or bad that turned out generating a very positive outcome.  Haven’t we all thought or said this is going to be bad at one time or another and yet it turned out to be one the best things to happen to us.  I can think of many situations and events that seemed very negative or difficult at the time that brought some of my greatest successes.  Be curious instead of critical and look for the opportunity in every situation.  What we look for we find.  Look for the upside in life!”

July 1, 2020

The WE Team!

The We Team!

 I refer to the leadership in a practice as the We Team! The We Team may consist of the owner doctor or doctors, practice administrator, manager, team lead and any other leadership roles in the practice. However, I will be focusing my message on the doctor/practice administrator relationship. It is imperative to develop a cohesive We Team. Without cohesive leadership performance expectations will be ambiguous and the team will conform to the lowest standards or expectations. Before you hire a practice administrator (PA) make sure you are ready to support them. I do not mean just financially. Consider the following questions before starting the hiring process:

·     Can the practice financially afford?

·     Are you ready to let go of some tasks and not micro-manage?

·     Will you take the time to empower someone else co-lead your team and practice

·     Will you support your PA in front of the team (any disagreements need to be behind closed doors away from the team)?

The relationship between the doctor and PA will be confusing without open communication and clear expectations. Many doctors hire a practice administrator without having clear expectations.  They believe the PA can manage without direction. The only guidance given to the PA is to let them know when they are doing things wrong. This lack of leadership sets the PA up to fail as it is confusing for them and the team. I receive a plethora of different answers when I ask doctors and team members what they think is the role of a PA. The role varies greatly from practice to practice.

Doctors make a list of the tasks you would like your PA to do before you start the hiring process. This will enable you to write and ad that clearly defines the role. Or if you already have a PA and have not defined their role do it now. You can also use this list to discuss strengths and future expectations.

Clearly define your goals and expectations. I would suggest creating a task management list that include the following. For a more detailed list email me at judykay@practicesolutionsinc.net.

·     Personnel/team management

·     Overseeing patient management

·     Practice management/productivity/promotion

·     Property/facility management

·     Any additional duties

Doctors and PA’s before agreeing to work together discuss the following:

·     How well do your core values match?

·     How aligned are your passion and purpose?

·     How well does the PA’s strengths match the expectations of tasks and responsibilities?

·     Do you both understand and agree on the role?

·     Does the PA really want the role, and have the capacity to excel in the role?

 

I am blessed to have worked with hundreds of dental teams nationwide to help them build a happier, healthier, and higher performing culture with my Culture Camps. Here is a link to my Rise & Shine Culture Camps (https://www.practicesolutionsinc.net/culture-camp.html) The best results are dependent on having an aligned and cohesive We Team.

Start by clarifying your roles as a We Team.

Doctor’s Role:

The doctor’s role is to create a clear vision for the practice. Choose four core words that reflect the core values you want to have in your practice. They are important to define what they mean to you and prioritize. These core value words will help guide you and your PA in decision making. I have found that four core words are much more powerful and effective than a rambling vision statement. Email me at judykay@practicesolutionsinc.net if you would like my Core Values sample list.

PA’s cannot meet your management expectations without ongoing communication. Every doctor and every office are unique. How could the PA possibly know what you want them to do? Schedule adequate time to meet with your PA on a weekly basis. This will allow and opportunity for the doctor and PA to:

·     Focus on the big picture and long-term goals

·     Share thoughts and ideas

·     Discuss and problem solve

·     Review practice statistics and adjust goals

·     Share patients and team kudos and growth opportunities

·     Define marketing opportunities

·     Discuss current projects and timelines

·     Give feedback on PA’s performance

·     Support your PA when confronted by a team member

 

PA’s Role

The PA’s role is to support the vision of the doctor in words, actions, and attitude. Support by inspiring, engaging, and empowering the team to implement the doctor’s vision. Which is why it will be imperative for the We Team to meet on a weekly basis to get and stay aligned.

A PA’s role includes the following:

·     Sharing new ideas with the doctor

·     Monitoring practice statistics

·     Introducing new ideas to the team in a team meeting setting

·     Utilizing a process/system to implement the new ideas

·     Creating accountability processes

·     Resolving issues

·     Communicating with the entire team individually and as a group to keep everyone in the loop and aligned

·     Creative problem-solving schedule obstacles

PA’s capitalize on your first 90 days by meeting with each team member individually to build relationships. Review current systems and processes and ask for feedback from the team on what is working well and any obstacles. Implement new ideas that are a positive for the team and easily achievable. This will help your team view change more positively. Take time to communicate with the team daily to keep everyone aligned and in the loop. At least 30% of your time to be spent working with team members. Be transparent and follow through with what you said you would do to build high trust relationships. Schedule time for social outings to have some fun together which will go a long way in building good will for stressful times. Share your knowledge and expertise and provide resources to empower your team to succeed!

The We Team relationships that soar are those that consistently take time communicate what they need from each other to successfully co-lead.

 

June 1, 2020

The Human Side of Dentistry

I am blessed to have the privilege of working in the dental industry since the early 1980’s!  Working in the dental industry for many can become just a job!  We must never, even for a moment, disregard that we are human beings caring for the health of other human beings.  It is not just about fixing teeth.  There are humans attached to those teeth!  It is important that we focus on the human side of dentistry and become advocates for our patients’ health.

I would love to see every medical and dental team instilled with an advocate mindset.  However, many of us have experienced a caregiver objectifying a patient by treating them like an object than a human being.  For example, they make decisions for the patient instead of educating and asking questions to understand what matters to them.  They have conversations about them in front of them and act as if they aren’t present.

I had a not so human experience during a recent visit to a radiology department.  It started out great with the x-ray techs introducing themselves as they ushered me into the room and explaining the process.  However, all manners and niceties stopped when the doctor who was going to be taking the x-rays entered the room.  He did not slow down enough to take a moment to introduce himself or ask me if I had any questions before he started.  He proceeded to rapid fire commands at me and then walked out of the room without further discussion.  There was no compassion or connection.  I felt objectified.  As if I were just a task that he was in a hurry to complete.  I understand that this may be a daily routine for him, but it was not for me.

It is vital that we remember when we are caring for our dental patients that they are more than just a task to complete to get on to the next one so we can finish our day.  We are dealing with their health.  What may be routine for us may seem scary or concerning to them.  It is essential that we recognize the human side of what we do.  It is our responsibility to take time to develop meaningful relationships with our patients, which allow will allow us to provide better and more comprehensive care.  When we do this, we become an advocate for our patients’ dental health.

Here are five essentials to help you become your patients’ advocate.

 

  1. Be happy to serve. Do you seem happy to the people you serve, both team and patients?  Think about it for a moment.  Would your patients and team describe you as happy?  Do you greet others warmly with a smile?  Are you happy to come to work and grateful for what you get to do?  Do you focus on the positive and celebrate daily?

 

  1. Get to know the human attached to the teeth. Ask questions to get to know more about what’s important to your patient.  What has been their past experience?  What are their goals and desires for their dental health?  What are their concerns about treatment and what matters to them?

 

  1. Educate your patient by having a conversation not giving a presentation. That means asking and answering questions as you go along to avoid assumptions.  Stop the data dumping and present information in bite size pieces.  Avoid industry slang and communicate on their level.  Verify time, sequence, cost and compliance (what they need to do to support).

 

  1. Focus on the WIIFTP (What’s in it for the patient). Show up 100% by being present in the moment.  Always contemplate what would make your patient feel more welcome, more comfortable in the moment and help build a stronger relationship?  Keep your patients in the loop by informing them what you are doing and why.  It’s what we say or don’t say that creates the patient’s perception.  We lose value when we don’t let our patients know what we are doing.  If we don’t say it to the patient it doesn’t exist.  For example, when you do an oral cancer exam explain to your patient what you are doing and the reasons why.  Even for those patients you have seen for many years.  Inform them every time.  The why must always be a value statement highlighting the benefit for the patient not the practice or the team.

 

  1. Address complications as soon as possible. Come from a real place of care, concern and curiosity versus judgment and criticism.  Always consider what it might feel like if it happened to you.  How would you treat them if they were a family member?  Let me clarify, a family member you like!  LOL!  Start out by asking, “How may I help you?”  Then be present, listen and hear what they are saying.  Share with them how you can help them by saying, “I can help you and this is how.”

When we focus on being advocates for our patients, we will develop more meaningful relationships that will enable us to provide better and more comprehensive care to our patients.  A win for the patient, practice and team!

March 24, 2020

Covid-19 Resources to Stay Safe and Sane

Covid-19 Resources to Stay Safe and Sane

Emotions are running high and there are many different opinions on the severity and treatment.  Dentists our burdened with decisions regarding patient care, their practice and team.  It is imperative that we not go into panic paralysis.  Instead let’s focus on steps we can take right now.

The lifter in me always looks for a rainbow after the storm.  The good news is that this storm will not go on forever.  We live in a very resourceful country.  There is a national focus (government and private sector) on generating an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, respirators and ventilators.  Our leaders are deploying ships and transitioning buildings to help beef up the health care delivery system.  Scientists are working on medicine to treat and prevent Covid-19 in the future.  Our current status may seem daunting.   However, we will not only survive this pandemic we will thrive and be more equipped to handle any potential future outbreaks.

I am saddened and frustrated and even angry at times.  Maybe you feel those same emotions as well.  Those of you who know me well know that I am not one to stay in the poor me victim mentality.  Instead I prefer to be a creator and act. Therefore, I have spent the last week reading and watching videos to learn as much as I can about Covid-19 to help keep teams and patients sane and safe.

Here are suggestions and resources (ADA, OSAP, CDC and Judy Kay) that you may find helpful in staying safe and sane!

Create a patient flow protocol with your team for when you are back up and running.

  • Consider what will make our patients feel safe, welcome and comfortable?
  • Intake protocol questions to ask
    • Have you traveled outside of the country in the last 14 days?
    • Have you had contact with anyone with confirmed COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
    • Have you had any of these symptoms in the last 14 days?
      • Fever greater than 100
      • Difficulty breathing
      • Cough
    • “Remember Mrs. Jones, if you’ve had the flu or a cold in the last 14 days or you’re not feeling well before your next appointment, please call and we’ll reschedule so you have time to recover.”
    • “If you have flu-like symptoms, or if you’ve been exposed to a sever cough or cold by someone you know, please call to reschedule your appointment to a later date.”
  • Utilize posters, signs & floor decal communication
    • Communicate hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette
    • Place a sign at the entrance to your office and strategic locations to let patients know they can reschedule if ill
    • Use personalized floor decals to create social distancing.  Create a unique positive message about your safety on each decal. https://www.stickeryou.com/products/indoor-floor-decals/689
  • Emergency care of patients – if more than one doctor – create mini-teams that work separately in case of exposure.  It will prevent the need to quarantine the entire team.

Engage your patients during your down time – Try to touch base with your patients on a weekly in the following ways.

  • Contact (call yes call on a real phone) all patients that have been affected by the shutdown (canceled appointments).  Reassure them that you will be there in the future to take care of their needs.  Reinforce what you are doing to keep them safe in the future.  Share the protocols and patient flow processes you are implementing.
  • Share the same information in short bite-size pieces on social media and a blog on your website.  Take videos of team members utilizing standard universal precautions as well as new precautions.
  • Send an email and or letter to all your patients sharing this same information

Here is a great example of a letter my client emailed to their patients.

Coronavirus Update‼️‼️

Due to the recommendations from the President and the American Dental Association, we have updated our office hours and protocols to keep our patients and community safe. Read a list of our updates below.

Effective through _______, our office hours will change to _____________ for emergency/essential treatment only. Our goal is to help keep our patients healthy, keep dental patients out of the emergency rooms so that doctors can keep their spaces open for Coronavirus cases, and minimize the potential risk to our patients and staff.

We will continue to communicate to our staff and patients regarding our plan to return to normal business hours. Appointments will be rescheduled until April and May with additional dates/hours being opened based on the need to accommodate our patients in a timely manner once we return to a normal schedule.

Our practice has always followed the strictest protocols regarding infection control in the dental practice. During this time, we have increased our disinfecting protocol for waiting rooms and patient areas. Patients will be asked to utilize a “virtual waiting room” by calling the office upon arrival. They will be taken directly to a room, and our lobby will remain empty to prevent any unnecessary contact.

We have limited staff at this time and will only see one patient at a time to minimize exposure risk. Patients will be screened via phone, and those who are experiencing symptoms will be not be seen. Upon arrival, we will take patients temperature to make sure that those that we see are not experiencing any infection. We have phone lines open to handle your dental concerns until our schedule returns to normal.

 

We will do our best to accommodate you and ensure that you stay healthy and pain free! For dental pain, please contact the office at _______________

We appreciate your patience as we manage this unprecedented time. Our goal is to keep our patients safe and healthy. We are in this together! We look forward to serving you again soon!

 

Engage your team during down time – try to touch base with the entire team on a weekly basis.

  • Have weekly remote meetings (I like Zoom)– to connect and check in as well as discuss new protocols once you are back up and running.
  • Create clear protocols for airborne, droplet and contact precautions for clinical and business area.  What will do in addition to Universal Precautions?
  • Practice verbal skills, role playing and the physical walk-through.

 

We are all in this together.  The more we stand together and support one another the quicker we will rise above this storm.

“What If” Panic!

“What If” Panic!

The Coronavirus has created a state of panic.  The dictionary defines panic as; a sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior, and that often spreads quickly through a group of persons or animals.

We are reaping the results of panic behavior hoarding, which is triggering shortages of disinfectants, food and even toilet paper.  The shelves are bare in many stores.  Some are even limiting shopping hours to allow their team to catch up with the restocking demands.

The more we allow our imagination spin fears of what if, the more panicked we will feel.  We can spin ourselves into a frenzy.  A constant state of panic can spiral us into a depressed mental state.  It is vital for our mental health to change from fear-based thoughts to more positive action-based thoughts.

 

The average person has 60,000 thoughts a day.  Ninety five percent of our thoughts are redundant.  The same thoughts we had yesterday will be the same thoughts we will have today and tomorrow.  Eighty percent will be negative unless we are mindful.  What do you think about now on a day to day basis?  Our doubts, fears and worries can paralyze us.  What we think today, tomorrow and next month will determine our future health.  The stories we tell ourselves become the life we live.

When we have faith in ourselves, we follow our gut instincts that we are born with. We become more powerful when we trust ourselves. Decisions become very clear when we trust our gut instinct.  Ask yourself, what is factual and what is fear?

How many times have you changed your mind about doing something because of saying to yourself, “But what if this happens”? You just “what if’d” yourself right out of action. How many times has the fear of “what if” stopped you? The ironic part is that fear is only a negative prediction of the future. In most cases, what we worry about doesn’t happen. What happened, we didn’t even think about or worry about, and yet we still survived. It’s proof that worry is a total waste of energy and time. If we can learn to evaluate the real danger, as opposed to the perception of danger (what if), we will get a more realistic viewpoint and we will be less afraid to act.

Whether or not we act is based on our confidence in being able to handle the situation. Instead of worrying, think about an action plan. Having a clear plan will empower you with the confidence needed to act.

Imagine how much happier you would be right this second if the fear of “what if” did not rule your decisions. What would you do differently?

Action Plan – Here are action questions to help you stop the fear from stopping you. I suggest writing your answers down to make your plan of action more concrete

  • What is the worst-case scenario?
  • What is the best-case scenario?
  • What is the most likely thing to happen?
  • What action steps can I take if the worst thing happens?
  • What action steps can I take if the best thing happens?
  • What action steps can I take if the most likely thing happens?

Define measurable daily action steps.  Then breathe and take the next step!

March 1, 2020

False Assumptions!

False assumptions run rampant and are often negative.  Mary leaves at the end of the day without saying goodbye!  I know what that meant!  She must be upset!  How do I know?  Because I would never leave without saying goodbye – unless I was upset!

What happened here?  I judged her behavior and assigned meaning based on what it would mean if I exhibited that same behavior.  Maybe, just maybe, Mary had an important appointment she was in a hurry to get to…or maybe she had a hot date!

Consider these other familiar interactions:

A co-worker with whom you normally have lunch doesn’t make room for you to sit with them.  Do you assume something must be wrong?  In their reality, they likely assume that you would have asked them to make room or would have made room for yourself if you wanted to join them.

A co-worker asks you to do something in a different way.  You’ve tried it that way before and it didn’t work.  Do you refuse?

You have an encounter with a brother, sister, parent, child or spouse where there is a disagreement because of a difference of opinion.  Of course, you believe you are right, and they are wrong!

We have surely all experienced scenarios like these!  They are all examples of false assumptions based on our personal truths.

False assumptions based on our personal truths are the number one breakdown in communication.  When we interact with others, we are always coming from a place that is dominated with our own experiences.  Our expectations differ because of our unique and individual beliefs, opinions, and assumptions based on our experiences.  These expectations become our personal truths upon which we base judgments of right and wrong.  (Think B.O.A.T. – Beliefs, Opinions, Assumptions become our truths.

We all have unique and individual experiences, yet we expect each other to think, act and respond in the same way that we would.  These false assumptions get us into trouble when we think others must behave in the same manner as we do, or their behavior is wrong.  We think others must believe what we believe, or they are wrong.  Once we understand that our personal truths, how we judge the world and what we believe to be right and wrong, are based on the unique and individual experiences we have, we can no longer believe that our answer is the only right answer.

It is important to understand and respect other personal truths to communicate effectively.  Here is a three-letter word that will resolve 90% of your communication problems.  ASK!  When you get that twinge in your gut and you think… “Hmmm…I wonder what they meant by that?”  or you find yourself saying “I think they meant this” – you don’t know!  Stop yourself immediately from wondering and speculating and ASK!  You will be surprised how many of your initial beliefs, opinions and assumptions are incorrect once you hear their intent.

Once you ask, listen to them with an open mind.  Let them share why they feel the way they do or did something a certain way.  We must stop judging with a mindset of right or wrong.  Some things may seem 100% right to me and to you they may seem 100% wrong.  Who’s right? The reality is that in many cases there is no right or wrong.  Our judgment is based on our past experiences.  If something I experienced in my past was positive, I will believe it will be positive again.  Another person may have had the same experience, but it was negative.  They will assume it will be negative again.  Therefore, if we both described the same situation, it would differ greatly.

Let me give another example.  I went on a hot air balloon ride in Napa Valley when I turned 50.  It was a gorgeous day and I did not want it to end.  I look forward to going again someday.  Another friend of mine went on a hot air balloon ride, the weather was terrible, and the flying was scary.  She has no desire to ever go on another hot air balloon ride again.  I think balloon rides are awesome, she thinks they are awful.  Who is right and who is wrong?  See what I mean?

In your office, one team member may have had good experience doing something a certain way while another did not.   It is important for them to come to an agreement to create a consistent process, system or protocol.  They can start by sharing their personal truths about the experience.  They must listen openly to each other and agree on an answer or solution that works for both.  To come to an agreement, we need to understand it will never be perfect for anyone but can be good or effective for everyone.  If we want our version of perfection, we will have to work alone!

It is important that we as individuals make a personal commitment to be open, respectful and understanding of each other’s personal truths.  This is what enables us to communicate and interact effectively with others.  Our success depends greatly on how well we communicate in our personal and professional lives.  When we communicate openly, positively, and effectively we inspire connections and build sincere, strong, sustaining relationships.  Our ceiling for success is instantly raised and the sky’s the Limit.

February 3, 2020

Love Your Heart to Health!

February is Heart Month!  Most of us focus on the love part.  I am going to switch it up and focus on the health part.  It is the perfect time to learn about your risk for heart disease and the steps you can take to be healthy.  The perfect time to love your heart to health!

This has become extremely important to me as my husband Steve had several heart attacks in November.  We felt blind sighted. He eats healthy and works out most days.  Steve feels and looks healthy and goes to the doctor annually for checkups.  We were hiking daily in the hills of Sausalito two months prior to his heart attacks.  He felt great.  Everything seemed to be good.  We were utterly shocked when we found out that what we thought was indigestion was really a heart attack.

We feel very blessed that he survived.  The surgeons performed an Angioplasty resulting in placing two stents and opening other areas.  They refer to the 90% blockage Steve had as the Widow Maker.

We are so appreciative that several of my clients and colleagues suggested we read “Beat the Heart Attack Gene by Bradley Bale, MN and Amy Doneen, ARNP, https://beattheheartattackgene.com/. Reading the book has created a much better understanding of heart disease.  I followed up with reading “Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life!”. which supports the same information. The standard of care is geared to treat end stage disease.  Who wants to wait until end stage? Instead, “Beat the Heart Attack Gene” focuses on prevention and what causes heart disease.

A quick checklist to see if it is time for you to request more thorough tests.

  • Waist measures 35 or more for women and 40 or more for men. (no this does not mean your belt size.)  Use a flexible (sewing) tape measure to measure.
  • High blood pressure – 130/85 or higher
  • Low HDL – less than 50mg for women and less than 40 mg for men
  • High Triglycerides – greater than 150
  • Fasting blood sugar greater than 99

If you have 3 or more of these symptoms don’t delay schedule an appointment today!  It likes 3 strikes in baseball…you are out!

 

The following tests are highly recommended by Amy Doneen and Dr Bale if you strike out.

  • A Cholesterol Test. A high LDL has been the focus on cholesterol as standard of care.  The more important cholesterol number is your total cholesterol and HDL ratio (TC/HDL ratio).  Divide total cholesterol by HDL.  Based on studies they consider a TC/HDL ratio of 3.5 a desirable target and number below 3 to be optimal.
  • An Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) to monitor how your body responds to sugar after fasting.
  • A Carotid IMT test to check plaque levels in arteries.
  • A blood test for Lipoprotein A
  • A Coronary calcium scan
  • A Genetic makeup test to test for the heart attack gene 9P21

Doctors will be able to take a more preventive approach once they know the results of these tests.  The treatment will no longer be based on the average person but instead customized to your specific health needs.

Love you heart to health!

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