I have just placed an on-line ad; watched my in-box overflow; glanced at multiple identical applications; interviewed six applicants; found my procedure manual; filled out mega forms and employed a new dental assistant. After two weeks she left in a hurry, mumbling something about weird control freaks; you should be locked up and on her way out accidently knocked over the delicious monster scattering soil everywhere. How do I avoid the same thing happening again?
“Here we go again.”
Answer: Move the delicious monster away from the door.
I have a member of staff who cannot sit still. While eating my lunch she will start sweeping up all of my crumbs. The slightest pause in the day and she is away arranging magazines into neat piles. She will then move onto the kitchen. She cleans and arranges the cups into a neat little row with their handles all at the same 45 degrees. I have done my best to foil her. I will scatter the magazines. I will follow her and sneakily move a cup askance. Point it the opposite direction. When she notices this she blissfully straightens the cups again and then rapidly moves on. I am at my wits end. I dream of her disappearing into a cloud of steam from the autoclave leaving behind only her immaculately clean shoes and a used chux. What can I do? I don’t think I can fire her.
Answer: You have Irritating Nurse Syndrome. A dentist working full time with the one assistant will spend more time with her than their partner. Prevention is better than cure. Don’t employ someone who will irritate you. Next time you interview job applicants go for the one you feel comfortable with. The one you would like to prefer to sit and watch TV with. Never be influenced by amount of experience, résumés, the quality of the application, or their interview. Experience often has to be unlearned. Everybody has a good resume—which they didn’t write. Good answers in the interview often means they have applied for lots of jobs.
Go for personality or gut instinct everytime. This assessment starts when they walk in the door and will take less time than it takes to set 3 mm of A3 composite resin.
As you say it is difficult to fire her. If you can’t fire her then you can either begin to enjoy her eccentricities—see her as strange and interesting like an animal in a David Attenborough documentary—or hope she finds your crumbs so annoying she resigns.
A mouse ran across the surgery floor and my assistant screamed making the patient anxious? How do I stop my assistant from screaming whenever she sees a mouse?
Answer: Buy a mouse trap. Next time she screams load the trap and place her fingers in it. A few bruised fingers and she will learn her lesson.
A new dentist has just opened up across the road. He has done a letter drop, has big signs and ads on the radio. How do I compete?
Choose your own answer:
Answer No 1: Good dentistry.
Answer No 2: You have or should have lots of advantages. Reliable, dependable, well know, secure. The other dentist has to overcome these disadvantages. His advantage is he is new fresh and up-to-date. He somehow has to prove he is secure, reliable and dependable. You have to prove you are up-to-date. If you are doing modern state of the art dentistry then you really shouldn’t have to tell anybody. It will be obvious. If you aren’t then you deserve to be worried.
Answer No 3: You are asking the wrong question. Don’t compete. Go and help your colleague. Become his friend. Create a symbiotic relationship where you both benefit. Refer patients to him. Help with emergencies. You will both attract different types of patients. Grow dentistry. Grow dental health.
Answer No 4: Do what I do. I ignore everybody else. I’m not going to spend my time worrying about other dentists. They can worry about me if they want.
This blog is the fictional story of a dentist. The dentist works with Jessica and Beryl in a town a lot like Hobart. The blog tells the story of what these people get up to and the work that they do. If you feel that you recognize yourself in one of the stories please remember it is fictional and the characters and stories are all fictional. Though all the stories are based on my time as a dentist in Hobart and are based on things which actually did happen.