Three Cases Of The Tail Wagging The Dog….

It truly is a case of the world gone mad.

Three dental employment stories that came across my desk this week just show how skewed the law is when it comes to employee rights.

As you read these stories ask yourself how much ire would be raised if the roles were flipped.

I’m going to tell you tales where the employer is left high and dry by employee choices, but if the roles were flipped then all hell would break loose.

1. The resigning associate

A dentist I know received a letter of resignation from his associate dentist, despite the fact she was only part way through an agreed two-year contract of employment.


The associate dentist resigned giving one months notice that she would not be seeing out her two year signed agreement.

Apparently the associate dentist had been accepted into a university course that she had applied for, despite her obligation to her employer.

Seems the associate dentist had not thought it necessary to let her employer know of her aspirations, until after she was accepted into her university.

How would the associate dentist have felt if the employer had been the one to terminate their two-year agreement early?

2. The resigning receptionist

Another dentist I know received a “Dear John” email from a receptionist who she had employed for the past two months.

Well not only employed, but trained, and educated, and motivated into how to provide ultimate results and conversions when the Dental Office phone rang.

Again, no reasonable notice.

Just an email to say “I won’t be in on Monday, I’ve taken another job with a dental specialist”.

It’s always disappointing to put in all that effort to train your team and educate them and then have leave.

But what is even stupider is never training your employees and having them stay.

Again, what’s disappointing is the brevity of the notice.

It would make front page of the newspapers if a dentist sent an email to a team member saying they don’t want you to work there any more, from tomorrow.

3. The case of the disappearing crown

A dentist I know very well works part time as an associate dentist in a couple of dental offices.

At one office, he had an appointment to issue a crown for a patient.

As is usual and customary for him, he numbed the patient, waited for the local to take effect, and then removed the temporary crown.

It was at this point that his dental assistant there advised him that the crown to be cemented had been misplaced, and now could not be found.

This “missing” crown had been returned from the lab a few days prior, been sighted at the practice, but had now been misplaced, and was nowhere to be seen when the patient arrived.

In fact never to be found again….

The sad part of this tale was that the dentist treating the patient was not made aware of the fact that the crown was indeed missing, and was not informed by the staff, and was so left to wear the “egg on face” with the patient after numbing the patient and removing the temporary crown.

Despite all the reasonable checks and balances at this practice, it was decided by some to pass the buck to the assistant dentist to fall on his sword.

Surely the dentist needed to be told of the state of play at the morning huddle as well as again just before the patient’s appointment.

Again, what if the dentist had messed up something and asked the dental assistant to take the rap with the patient?

My understanding was that the assistant dentist was very civil and circumspect while explaining the story of the lost crown to the patient.

And to make matters more awkward, the patient was a recent new patient to the practice who had just recently become very comfortable that he had finally found a great dentist.

Sadly, in this case, the dentist was let down by his team…

Like a true champion of customer service, the assistant dentist refused to publicly lay blame, though he well could have, in this situation.

Instead, he took the blow on behalf of his team.

Obviously nobody misplaced the crown on purpose. It just would have been more appropriate for the patient to have been advised of the situation at a better time than mid-appointment.

The road of being an employer and a business owner is a difficult one.

Despite all attempts to make life a course of smooth sailing, there will be curve balls thrown at unexpected times that we need to be mentally prepared for, just in case.

Hopefully, none of these tales will happen to you, during your dental life…


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