You may actively avoid looking at your day list for the following day or week in case it will cause you stress about a particular case or patient, but actually you should be doing the exact opposite.
Ultimately, you will have to see that patient without a doubt or carry out the planned work. As such, it is far better that you are prepared for this, than that you just go with what you know on the day.
For clinical work, for instance, you can read up on a published paper or journal to check the most up-to-date and evidence-based method of performing a specific treatment. Alternatively you may wish to just brush up on some knowledge regarding a treatment you haven’t done for a while. For instance, if you have an endodontic case, you may wish to revisit the pulpal floor anatomy of a tooth and remind yourself of different configurations; this can help you quickly progress through the stages of the treatment. For extractions, you may wish to recall all potential instruments that may be needed in case complications arise, so that if you need to adopt a surgical approach, you can start without delay.
Knowing what work is coming to or from a laboratory and keeping your staff informed will alleviate potential issues when someone has misread a date or lab work is not on time. Keeping a close eye on your diary will also highlight any time a rebooking is required, or if free slots occur allowing you to book in patients who are due treatments. Managing your diary will help you stay efficient and also prevent loss of income from empty appointment slots.
Long-term planning is something that you begin to develop as you move from single-tooth dentistry to more complex treatment plans. This includes keeping study models and photographs of a patient’s marked occlusion so references can be made back when planning. If you or your patient is planning to postpone any work there is plenty of preparation work that can be done in advance. You could first begin with impressions to create study models, which will be useful later when communicating treatment plans. Planning also considers the long-term options; for instance, you can graft an extraction socket when removing a tooth so that it maintains their bone, reducing the need for further surgical work later. You can offer a patient a review appointment if you are concerned a tooth may turn non-vital after treatment. These are just a few examples of several ways you can actively plan ahead for your patients, helping to improve trust and think holistically about the care you deliver.
When working on a treatment there will often be times when you might not achieve what you need to within the desired time frame. You may have already told the patient you only require one appointment and therefore you will need to decide whether you run over your planned time or make the patient an additional appointment.
It may feel like you are doing the right thing in completing the work to save the negative reaction from the patient; however, you need to consider the cumulative effect that the potential stress will have on your team if it becomes a habit.
About the author
Dr Kalpesh Prajapat graduated from Liverpool Dental School in 2016, with distinctions in Restorative Dentistry and Oral Health Sciences. Kalpesh pursued DFT In General Practice within Cambridge, followed by Dental Core Training within the Birmingham Dental Hospital. Here Kalpesh provides consultant led Restorative, Oral surgery and Sedation treatments, in addition to holding an on call OMFS role at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Kalpesh also works part-time in private practice within Birmingham.
Owing to the importance of personal and professional development, career building and planning Kalpesh teamed up with well-known dental associates and practice owners to help write ‘Dental Associate Interviews: An Ultimate Preparation Guide’. This became an Amazon Best Selling book during its early release.
Kalpesh is currently an NHS Clinical Entrepreneur and enjoys Restorative Dentistry, Oral surgery and Sedation.