Many dentists are particular (and perhaps even downright fussy) about the clinical materials they use. Me? I’m extremely finicky about the way I arrange my patient schedule. For good reason, too. Implementing a block schedule into my practice of dentistry has transformed my life, and I’m never going back to my pre-block schedule way of living.
I began using a block schedule template about a year into my career. Tired of days filled with nothing but composite restorations for eight straight hours, I decided to use this system more for my own sanity than anything else. But it wasn’t until I became pregnant with Baby #1 that I discovered the true superpowers of block scheduling.
I was the sole dentist at a practice owned by another dentist and I was proud of the growth the practice had seen since I had started working there. With my due date drawing closer and closer, I began to worry—I would most likely have to choose between continuing to grow the practice (and my paycheck) or spending more time at home with my new baby. Although I loved my practice, the team, and the many wonderful patients, I knew it would simply be no contest. Babies don’t stay babies, and I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to drop a day each week to spend at home, being a mom before anything else.
But I’m a girl who likes to have her cake and eat it, too. I sat down and sketched out new templates for my schedule that would allow me to make the most use out of my three-day-workweek. Basically, I needed to do the work of four and a half days in just three. After all—the student loans still needed to be paid off and the mortgage wouldn’t disappear just because I wanted to be home more than I was at work.
The amazing thing I discovered was that I could use my block schedule templates to purposefully achieve my new, higher production goals. I didn’t have to add more hours to the days I was practicing, I just needed to use the hours I already had in a different way. And it wasn’t about doing more, more, more dentistry, either. It wasn’t about getting it done faster or sacrificing the quality of my work. It was about eliminating non-productive time-wasters. It was about using every minute to work smarter, not harder. The results still amaze me today, four years later.
I cut back my chairside hours and my production skyrocketed. And it was actually an easier way of practicing dentistry. To say that I felt like I had hit the jackpot was an understatement. More time at home with a red-headed, chubby-cheeked angel and more enjoyment in the work I was doing.
Maybe you’re not looking to reduce your time at work—I can assure that this method of scheduling can still have its place in your practice of dentistry. Here are three additional reasons you should start using this awesome system now:
1. Production, Production, Production
If you can’t reach your practice production goals, how will you be able to keep your doors open to serve your patients? Utilizing a block schedule that is created around your production goals nearly guarantees that you will hit your goals every single day.
You and your entire team will fall in love with this new way of scheduling because humans love predictability and consistency at work. I have a block for same-day emergency patients at 2:30 every day, and now my brain is hard-wired to go into diagnosis/triage mode at 2:30. The longer I use this system, the more programmed my mind becomes.
3. No more no-shows
It didn’t take long to see a dramatic decrease in the number of no-show patients or last-minute cancellations for me and my team. Why? Because I don’t “throw” patients into the schedule just anywhere, so it’s harder to get into see me if you bail at the last minute. Your patients will quickly realize it too, and they will recognize the value of their reserved appointment time more and more.
My motivation to create a highly efficient and productive block schedule was all thanks to one sweet little girl who forever changed my priorities. As time continues, I have found so many more reasons to continue to use and improve upon this system that has allowed me to have my cake and eat it, too. Four years (and two more babies later), I continue to watch my daily production numbers grow and my stress level decrease as a three-day-a-week dentist. I’m not just lucky—if I can make this system work, you can as well!
What do you say? Ready to give it a go? Of course you are! Which is why right now, In Good Practice is offering a three-day crash course into setting up a block schedule for you and your team! The lessons are delivered straight to your inbox, it couldn’t be easier to get started! Happy Block Scheduling!