How Do You Train Your Orthodontic Practice Employees to Prioritize

You know your craft; you went into this profession to restore smiles, and you have put in the countless hours of practice necessary to become a skilled professional.

The thing is, you don’t work alone, or just with other dental professionals who are equally dedicated.

There’s also the rest of your staff…and without your expert help and guidance, they may simply lack the skills to prioritize activities in your practice the way you want them to.

If you have employees on your team who are new to your office, lack experience in the health care field or simply aren’t managing to keep their heads above water, read on to learn how to train them to handle patient flow more effectively.

Prioritizing is Put to the Test by a Busy Practice

Of course, your staff are trained as to their daily duties, and hopefully possess basic time management skills (or the desire to work long hours to get everything done).

Unfortunately, things can essentially go out the window for your front office staff when you’re busy with a patient and the phone rings with an urgent problem, patients in the waiting room are getting antsy, there are last-minute changes to the schedule, the printer is eating someone’s invoice and a new patient walks in off the street wanting to talk about procedures.

At this point, the typical chain of priority can fall apart. It is here where your employees’ judgment will be tested to the limit. While of course everything boils down to individual judgement calls, you can and should ensure that your staff have general guidelines to follow so that things don’t get out of control.

Best Practices: How to Get Office Employees to Prioritize Your Way

Even for people who consider themselves decisive and logical, too many things happening at once can create confusion and paralyzing doubt, preventing anything from being done for fear of making a mistake.

Yet something has to be done – and things can really only be done one at a time (despite the myth of multitasking).

Here’s what to teach your orthodontic practice staff in terms of what – and how – to prioritize:

  1. Have regular meetings with staff in which you discuss these issues and provide employees with feedback on unique situations. The lessons absorbed from your thoughtful feedback will help employees better understand your priorities so they can generalize in the next situation.


  1. Handle what is urgent. This may seem logical, but such logic has been eroded over the years by memes like ‘big rocks’ which urges us to consider the important over the urgent. Perhaps big rocks is a philosophy to live by in the broader world, but in a busy orthodontic practice, you have to take care of what needs to be handled right now to make sure patients are being seen. Today’s schedule simply must take priority over things that are less urgent. So, stay in the day.



  1. Stay with the patient. The person in front of you, and the experience that they are having, must take precedence over future events, even if those events are indeed important to your clinic. For example, doing callbacks is an important activity that helps ensure a full chair tomorrow, as patients who are reminded are less likely to no-show. However, doing callbacks while a patient has to wait an extra half hour because of incomplete tray setup or lack of sterilized backup equipment, has a negative impact on the patient’s experience and could send them home very unhappy.

Do you agree? If you would prioritize things differently in your own orthodontic practice, or have a different method for training staff to prioritize, leave a comment!

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