Thursday Troubleshooter: "I dread going to work"


QUESTION: I'm writing from New Zealand. My dental office stress is making me anxious and I dread going to work. I don’t know how to get my coworkers to listen to me or give me respect! Here is an example of how my peers don't listen to me or have respect for me. Lately our X-ray films have been getting stuck in the digital processor. Yesterday the film I tried to process actually got stuck so we had to send the machine away. We had a meeting later that day, and a staff member said this happened because I have been told to use tissue paper instead of wipes, but I do use tissue! They didn't ask me about this before the meeting and just shrugged off my defensive comments. Help!

ANSWER FROM AMY SMITH, Amy Smith Consulting, LLC, from the popular column, Dentistry IQ's Thursday Troubleshooter

There appears to be several separate issues involved here, so let’s look at them one by one. First of all, to whom do you report? It is normally the doctor or office manager. Request a one-on-one meeting with that person and express your concerns. Do not point fingers or blame another person. Be honest and candid and ask for feedback as to what you could be doing better (if anything), or ask if you should be doing something that you’re not.

Secondly, let’s look at the X-ray machine. Do you need additional training? Is there a problem with it that is out of your control due to its age or service history? And finally, is there an unresolved issue between you and any other staff member that could be leading to your feeling of stress and anxiety? The conversation you have, and the feedback you get, from your doctor or office manager should help resolve the situation in a positive manner. It is their responsibility to see that everyone who works for their practice is treated with courtesy and respect.