Clinical Organization

by Andrea Cook

Running your clinic on time is a challenge for many offices. One determining factor in a clinician’s ability to keep on schedule is the importance of good clinical organization. Having the side units, clinic, and sterilization area clean and well organized will help the clinical team work more efficiently. If the clinic and side units are well organized and the clinicians have everything they need they can easily adjust the procedure for late patients or patients with breakage.

Spending valuable minutes searching for items will not allow them to accomplish as much as possible during an appointment. As I work with offices across the country I have the opportunity to observe the clinic in full production. Too many times on a busy day, in the middle of the afternoon, I see the clinical teams searching in multiple drawers and cabinets for items, asking other team members “have you seen the ___?” Besides taking valuable patient care minutes, this may give the office a feeling of disorganization and confusion.

Create Organized, Well-stocked Chairside Units

One of the goals for the clinical teams I have the opportunity to work with is to have the clinician stay with their patient during their entire appointment. Accomplishing this will require the clinical area and chairside units to be well organized and fully stocked. Many times their side units are fully packed but they are getting up during a procedure to retrieve necessary items. Having all necessary items (and only necessary items) chairside in an organized manner will allow the clinician to work most efficiently and focus on quality patient care.

I have found the best way to get all necessary items in the units in an organized fashion is to remove everything from one chairside unit. Then work together as a team to select all items needed to complete each procedure from archwires to bonding and banding procedures. Once all items are located the organization portion begins. Grouping items together as they are needed for procedures will help the clinicians set up for a procedure more efficiently. This will also help them switch procedures if a patient comes in with some breakage or the doctor decides to add a step to the scheduled procedure.

Drawer organization will determined by the size and number of drawers and the items needed. Organizational items can be purchased from a multitude of retail suppliers. Dux, Hu-Friedy, Boyd, OrthoEssentials and other companies have great drawer organizers. For some of the smaller items, I have found craft stores offer good solutions.

Now that one unit is organized in the most efficient manner, the remaining units will be organized in the same manner. Having each unit consistently designed will help clinicians switch chairs and still be able to work at the same efficiency level. This will also help as new clinical team members are brought into the office.

Organization Helps You Get Rid of Unused Items

We now have all the units free of clutter and unnecessary items, so continue to move through the clinical cabinetry with the same process. If an item has not been used in the past 6 months it should be removed from the clinic and placed into a storage room. If an item has not been used for over a year, it is probably dumpster material. There may be items that have not been used in over a year but can be donated to a school or other program to make use of them.

Andrea Cook


Andrea Cook’s  in-office, hands-on training is based on knowledge gained through 20 years of chair side experience. She is a clinical consultant and trainer for premier orthodontic offices across the country. Contact Andrea at  Andrea Cook Consulting.

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