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12/6/2018 Insights

Doing What's Best For Patients vs. Helping The Practice's Bottom Line: How To Bring The Two Goals Together

Doing What's Best For Patients vs. Helping The Practice's Bottom Line: How To Bring The Two Goals Together
by Amber Metro-Sanchez, BA, RDH

Have you ever been exposed to a situation as a dental hygienist where, in your mind, you questioned a proposed treatment recommendation? Have you ever been asked to perform treatment that you thought may be unnecessary? Have you ever been pressured to push elective treatment and sell dental products in an effort to increase production in a dental practice?

These situations can make you feel uncomfortable and create a moral conflict between what matters more in dentistry: the importance of an office to be successful financially versus doing what's best for patients. Complicating the issue is the fact that dentists can have widely varying opinions on when treatment is necessary, such when one practitioner prefers to watch an area to see how it progresses verus another practitioner wanting to treat immediately.

As students in dental hygiene school, we were taught to perform the appropriate treatment for each patient so that everyone received the optimal level of care. However, in a dental practice, cost often comes into play. Dental hygiene school clinics tend to offer greatly reduced prices compared to a typical dental practice. In the real world of dentistry, making a profit is a necessity, and the line separating what level of treatment is required/acceptable and what is not can get blurry.

For example, consider a scenario in which you are interviewing for a position in a practice that only allows you 40 minutes to perform an unassisted adult prophy. Many hygienists would feel uncomfortable working in this situation because it would be difficult to perform a thorough prophylaxis. But as part of the job opportunity, you are offered an impressive hourly wage along with an excellent benefits package. The situation would likely present a moral dilemma: Should you work in a practice where quality of care could potentially be compromised? Factors like potential income and the physical demands of the work would also factor into your decision. 

A better solution for financial stability

Sometimes people may think that they have to make a choice between being financially successful and doing what's best for patients, but in reality, both goals can be achieved at the same time. 

Read full article on Dentistry iQ.