Date ArticleType
1/8/2019 Insights


by Marie Thompson, AADOM

The term “May Day” can be used to describe multiple events. The term entered daily parlance in 1923 when London airport radio officer, Frederick Stanley Mockford, was asked to think of a word that could be used and understood by pilots and ground staff alike in case of an airport emergency. What he thought of was m’aider meaning, “Help Me.”

Unrelated to this scenario, we now celebrate May Day as traditional spring holiday to honor workers. Generally, May Day festivities include dancing (perhaps around a May Pole), singing, and dessert (usually cake). As with all holidays, a great deal of preparation is necessary to have a successful event. Making beautiful costumes, the gathering of flowers and ribbons, and of course, baking.

If we want to make May Day amazing in our dental offices, I propose we combine these two ideas.
Preparing the team during the month of April can reduce the stress associated with the end of the school year struggle. Planning can greatly reduce the stress associated with patient reactivation. Part of this preparation should include re-evaluating the role each team member plays with regards to patient appointment booking.


Begin with the person(s) most responsible for their successful schedule: the dentist. While each team member is responsible for having an appropriate uniform and gathering all necessary information for the day, you must arrive prepared. Be rested. Be well dressed. Come early enough that you will be able to look through your patient charts and have your questions answered about their care. While your assistants, hygienists, and non-clinical staff will get most of this ready for you, it is your responsible to prepare yourself. We want you to be successful!

Take time to review old treatment plans that have not been scheduled. Ask staff if they know of any time or financial restrictions of the patient. If this is unknown, the dentist may not have 1) reached the point that your patient understands “why” they need treatment, 2) provided them with a course of care that they can agree to, or 3) addressed their concerns. Consider these theories before you see your patient. Commitment of the patient to treatment is essential and only you can achieve this step. Ideally, while the patient is still in the office and you are addressing them, praise them for scheduling and their efforts to comply. If the patient has not scheduled, keep complete treatment notes that tell the team what the patient’s primary concerns are and what the patient’s reaction was to the plan. When follow up calls are made, this information will be crucial for success. Be respectful of your office time by doing what you want your staff to do, keep distractions from outside the office to a minimum.


Hygienists, you are likely appointing your patients from treatment rooms. This ensures a more likely positive outcome for your continued care. Ask front desk staff if they have any ideas for short cuts to your success. Start the day by scheduling tentative appointments for today’s patients. Once the patient confirms, move them in the day sheet.

Before the patient leaves, ask them if they have any questions or concerns. This prevents them from asking front desk staff who may not have the necessary knowledge to respond. To show your patient you value their time, try to be ready for them at the appointed time. Be a safe place for your patient. Offer solutions for their success and truly care for their well-being.

Dental Assistants

Assistants, we know that you already have a great deal on your shoulders. Help the doctor make those reason-to-return notes a reality. During appointments, make notes about what has been said in case the dentist forgets later. Ensure important items make it to the patient chart notes. If you are making appointments in the clinical rooms, I applaud you. I believe these appointments will be kept as a higher rate, particularly if the dentist is still in the room and supporting you. Ask if the patient has any questions before they leave you. Make sure to have a good working relationship with your patient to help them develop trust in your team. If you need help with treatment plans or scheduling, ask for help from the front desk staff. They too want to see you succeed.

Front Desk Staff

Front desk staff, you are the ultimately the cake baker/party planner in this scenario. The front desk is the oven. I know that you aren’t shocked because you feel the heat all day long! You take the wonderfully charted information, thought out treatment plans, and pre-scheduled appointments and make them into the final schedule. The fact that you nurture and protect a schedule over days to months is valuable. Ultimately, the most important thing you can do is collect necessary payments from patients. Be brave! Be daring! Your dentist is a hero. Your hygienists are technical wizards. Your assistants tirelessly sit in the trenches supporting the team. Make sure their dedication is not in vain. Be open about fees that will be charged. Use your time wisely and investigate potential insurance reimbursements. Be knowledgeable about outside office payment resources. Learn to speak to patients about their health and their money as if they were your closest friends. Earn their trust.

It is my hope that no office will need to say, MAY DAY! MAY DAY! MAY DAY! in 2019. Create the breeze within your office that causes you to soar through the month higher than ever before. Remember that no one has ever collided with the sky. Who is responsible for appointment success in your office? You all are! I hope to hear of your amazing successes.

Marie Thompson

Marie Thompson has been married for 36 years to her dentist husband. She is the mom of three millennials. Currently, she manages the air traffic control tower of co-pilots, J. Andrew Ramsey, DMD, FAGD, and Ronald R. Gadbois, DDS, and their amazing ground crew. She is a graduate of the University of North Georgia and is also a member of ADOMA and AADOM.