How 9 dentists prepare for a busy day

Dentists have several ways that they prepare for days packed with full schedules, complex procedures and operational tasks. 

Nine dentists recently spoke with Becker's about how they prepare for busy days. 

Editor's note: These responses were lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: How do you prepare for busy days at your practice?

Manny Chopra, DMD. Center for Dental Health (Cincinnati): As most dentists do, we start the day's preparation a day in advance by scanning the schedule for the next day to confirm that we have all the lab cases and the prosthetic/implant materials on hand, and to confirm that we have sufficient time for each anticipated procedure. Having all the necessary instruments and materials will streamline our workflow and minimize disruptions during the day. Starting the day off early with a great night’s sleep helps for mindfulness to maintain focus and energy throughout the day. In the morning, communication with my staff is critical to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding patient schedules, specific treatment plans and scanning the schedule to see where dental urgency/emergency patients can be fitted into the schedule. Lastly, spending a few minutes before the day starts to review the patient records will help provide personalized care and address any medical concerns, ongoing issues and follow up required on previous treatments.

Jordan Cooper, DDS. Cooper Family Dentistry (Jacksonville, Ark.): Dentistry is hard on your back, even when using correct posture. After 17 years of practice, I have learned that starting the day with stretching or yoga helps so much with longevity. I wish I would have started earlier in my career. A little meditation, if I have time, gets my head ready for the day's mental stress as well.

Michael Davis, DDS. Smiles of Santa Fe (N.M.): One assuredly does not prepare the day prior. Staff ideally is cross-trained to handle a plethora of duties.

Dental assistants and doctors can handle phone calls. Office personnel should be cross-trained for infection control protocols and to strip down and set up treatment rooms. Any warm body should be trained and able to assist with autoclave sterilization.   

Raul Escalante, DDS (San Marcos, Calif.): Preparing for a busy day at our practice is not much different from our regular day. We typically have a very loose "morning huddle" where we discuss whatever is going on with the days' schedule. Oftentimes, it will be myself that will ask questions about the schedule, however, usually it's something not really related to dentistry. Usually, I'll ask something about the patient or some event that has happened and I never found out the details. I have to credit my staff for keeping things running smoothly. My assistant has been with me for 24 years and my receptionist for 13. They know what they are doing. I leave it up to them to run the office and I just follow their lead. I mainly try to stay calm and focus on my dentistry. 

Joseph Gulbenkian, DDS (New York City): I stay hydrated and make sure I had my workout the night before to ensure a good night's sleep. 

Krista Kappus, DDS. Fitch Mountain Dental (Healdsburg, Calif.): My morning routine typically begins with a robust cup of coffee that fuels my day. After indulging in that energizing sip, I take a delightful half-hour to scroll through Instagram, enjoying the latest updates and a dose of inspiration.

I like to arrive at the office a little earlier than the hustle and bustle begins, ensuring I have a moment to gather my thoughts and set the tone for the day. This is when I dive into my inbox, catching up on emails and correspondence and taking care of any pressing matters.

Next, I gather with my trusty team, the assistants and front office staff, to go over our game plan for the day. We discuss any potential challenges and where extra support may be needed, ensuring we're well-prepared for what's to come.

As a part of our strategy, I carve out specific time slots throughout the day for handling any unexpected, absolute emergencies. This way, we can maintain a balance between planned procedures and addressing urgent matters, making each day both productive and adaptable. 

In a nutshell, my day kicks off with a dose of caffeine, a dash of social media and a whole lot of teamwork, ensuring that we're ready to tackle whatever comes our way. It's this mix of professionalism and a touch of fun that keeps our days dynamic and exciting.

Mark Rashidi, DDS. Clinical Faculty Member at the Roseman University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine (Henderson, Nev.): A group huddle in the morning is of utmost importance to attune all team members for the challenges and points of opportunities of the day. This is critical for the practice in order to maximize its impact in hitting all the goals set for the day. Without having this roadmap, it's like driving blind, and it's easy to miss great opportunities, which will go unrealized. The second part of that will be delegating individuals with defined tasks in relationship to each aforementioned challenge and opportunity. The more in detail this can be defined for the team members, the better chance of their success, and as a result, hitting the overall goals of the day for the practice. I love the saying, "Failing to plan, is planning to fail."

Charles Rim, DDS. Dentistry Director of Intake and Urgent Care at Oregon Health & Science University (Portland): I start the day early reflecting on the Serenity Prayer: 

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference."

Then, I plan the whole day, checking on emails, daily patients, students, staff and specialty clinic schedules with a cup of coffee.

Ramien Tajick, DDS. The Dental Group (Riverdale Park, Md.): All staff have to be at the office 15 minutes before opening so we can have our huddle. This huddle is to go over the schedule, treatment plans and collections. I always end the huddle with, "let's have a great day."

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