By Roger P. Levin, DDS
When Levin Group surveys orthodontists about their pain points, stress ranks second only to inadequate production (which, of course, contributes to stress). Even if you’re doing well in every other regard, daily stress and tension at the office can make work life very unpleasant for you and your staff.
Contrary to what you may think, staff conflict, missed appointments, parent complaints, and aggressive competitors do not cause the greatest amount of stress. The real culprit? Outdated, inefficient practice management systems.
You establish systems—step-by-step protocols—to enable the practice to function smoothly. But as time goes by and changes occur, even the best systems become outdated. Bottlenecks accumulate, obstructing rather than facilitating the work. You and your team find yourselves fighting the systems, cobbling together patches and work-arounds to make up for their growing problems. Everyone becomes frustrated, irritable, and generally stressed.
Systematic Stress Relief
If any of your systems have been in place for 3–5 years, they definitely need to be examined carefully and should probably be scrapped. You, your office manager, and any individuals who use a particular system should set relevant performance targets and then design a series of simple, efficient steps toward achieving those targets. As part of the systems development process, translate the system documentation into scripts. These will serve as the basis for training team members to work with the new systems efficiently.
De-Stressing with Delegation
By distributing responsibilities for using practice systems to reach targets, you will further reduce sources of day-to-day stress. By delegating all but your clinical duties as the orthodontist, you can radically reduce the intrusion of stressful details into your schedule. Though you may initially feel anxiety about “letting go,” excellent systems and training should soon alleviate this temporary stress. Delegation will also empower your staff and, as they operate their systems well and reach their targets, their stress will be replaced by a growing sense of control and accomplishment.
A certain amount of stress may be unavoidable, but by taking the business-like approach described here, you and your team can prevent it from undermining your professional satisfaction and success.
Attend Dr. Levin’s one-day ortho seminar, Building the Superior Ortho Practice, on Friday, June 19, 2015, in Newport Beach, California, tuition-free with an Educational Grant. Ask your Ortho2 Systems Consultant how to receive one.