Based on a true story…

So, about a week before our summer vacation this year, I was hit with the news that one of our employees was leaving. Poor timing. REALLY poor timing. Other than a few days here and there, we ONLY take one week of vacation a year. I look forward to that one week all year long. It’s THE MOST PRECIOUS time in my life. We vacation with family and I have the FUNNIEST husband, stepson, nieces, nephews, and in-laws on the planet. All we do is laugh when we’re together, and nothing in life makes me happier.

When things get tough at the office, and you all know how tough it can get, I close my eyes and dream about being on vacation with my family. It’s what keeps me sane.

Seriously. Doesn’t this look like fun?

Anyway, the fact that I got that news right before we left seemed particularly cruel. I went from skipping and dancing around the office, to feeling like I got kicked in the gut. I know you can empathize. I don’t even want to go into how difficult it is dealing with the interviewing, hiring, and training process. You already know how much it stinks. However, in case you aren’t familiar with my feelings on the situation, here’s an old video of my thoughts.

The employee who was leaving was not only a hygienist who could give injections, but she was also an EFDA. She was very talented and her certifications allowed her to do a lot of things for our patients. Losing such a versatile employee was devastating. An EFDA/Hygienist is RARE. An EFDA/Hygienist who has a great work ethic and personality is even more RARE!

Although I was heartbroken, I had an ad out within 30 minutes. There wasn’t any time to waste. Ideally, I would have liked to hire another EFDA/Hygienist. But that’s when I found out that an EFDA/Hygienist is a unicorn. They just don’t exist.

I should explain something here before I go on that is a little unique about our practice. Currently we have 3 hygienists. One of them just sees recall patients all day long. I cannot completely fill 3 hygiene schedules everyday, but I can toss recalls their way throughout the day. When you are a hygienist at our office, you are also expected to do some assisting, turn over rooms, help with maintenance, etc. Everyone in our office is expected to contribute to running this practice. We ALL help with ALL the moving parts ALL day long.

So, I really had a dilemma on my hands. Our hygienists (and that EFDA/Hygienist) were really cool about doing things OTHER than hygiene. They just want to work for one office full time. They like never having their hours cut because hygiene might be slow, and I like having them around in case the hygiene opportunity presents itself throughout the day-and it always does. But would a new hygienist feel the same?

Ok, back to the story.

Since the EFDA/Hygienist candidates are nonexistent, we settled on finding another hygienist who would be cool with learning how to assist. However, do you know how tricky it is to find a new hygienist who is cool with that?

I spent that week before we left interviewing potential employees. It was the same old thing. One candidate wouldn’t let me get a word in. Another hygienist candidate said she also did marketing for a practice. I asked for an example, and she told me she put air fresheners in the waiting room. (Who knew that air fresheners were a marketing tool?) After a background check on another, I found out that she was recently arrested for falsifying prescriptions for another dentist. She was the one who began harassing me on Facebook, so much that I almost contacted the police. So you know, that’s pretty much par for the course when it comes to interviewing. That’s why I was so upset about this situation. I was so frustrated that I actually told my husband to go on vacation without me because we were going to run out of time. Now, you KNOW it’s a dire situation when I’m about to forgo my week of family bliss-my one week of heaven.

But I plugged away that week and at the last minute, we found a great hygienist. It couldn’t have been more last minute. I think I offered her the job about 2 hours before we left on our trip.

So she accepted, and that was great, but I’m not going to lie, there was a dark cloud over my head during that whole vacation week. I worried about how we would function without an EFDA. I knew our schedule would suffer, and whenever you hire someone new, things move a little slower. Needless to say, I was a wreck.

A few days after we returned from vacation, our new hygienist, Jamie, started. She fit in really well right off the bat, which was a load off my mind. She also had her local anesthesia license, and that was helpful since that was one of the skills we had just lost. She was also really into learning the assisting aspect.

I was starting to breathe easier. Maybe this was going to be okay after all.

But then some things happened that I NEVER expected.

Our one hygienist who does most of our recalls approached us and said she wanted to get her local anesthesia license.

Our second hygienist/assistant asked for a refresher course with her own local anesthesia skills. (Although she was licensed already, she was gun shy about administering anesthesia.)

Our receptionist demonstrated that she was ready for more responsibility and so we promoted her to office manager.

Our dental assistant came to us and said she wanted to go to EFDA school. (With some massive administrative work in a short time, she was able to enroll in a program within a week!)

Now, I’m not kidding. All of this came within a few weeks of our EFDA/Hygienist leaving. I was shocked. I was also really pleased with how much everyone stepped up to help out. Not only are they good people, but they are truly lovers of all things dental and want to take their careers as far as they can.

Now that it’s been a few months, I can safely say that we are a better team now than ever before. I have this whole team of people who have pushed themselves to do MORE in their careers. Looking back, maybe our team was in a rut. The EFDA/Hygienist leaving was the fire that everyone needed to go as far in their careers as legally allowed and I love that! There’s a new energy around here. Never before have we had a team that could do so much. I’m really proud of them, and truthfully, it was all them. They took the initiative and made themselves better. I wish I could say that I had something to do with it, but it was all them.

But, now that I know how great it can be when you have a team who can do all these things, I strongly advise you to encourage your staff to be their best.

You’ll be better off.

We certainly are.

Our team!


About Missy


  1. Great story to share Missy. Sometimes it’s the bad stories that people hang onto and repeatedly share. Empowering stories can become part of the “legendary” service model of a great team. Well done.

  2. Missy you have shared great story. Well done, keep sharing such a wonderful articles.