Lessons Learned the First Day on the Job Featuring Valarie Caulfield, DAADOM
The first day on the job
Valarie Caulfield, DAADOM, began her dental office management career in Southern California in 1984.
She had previously been working in the banking industry, so she had a whole new world of patients and procedures to figure out.
When the first patient walked into the office, Valarie asked for the person’s name, and almost immediately got scolded. She remembers being told by the doctor that when a patient walks through our door, they are our patient. We should know who they are and never have to ask their name.
This lesson at her first dental job helped shape her approach to patient care.
“It really sat home with me,” says Valarie.
“To this day, I never ask for a patient’s name when someone walks through the door.”
In order to provide a better patient experience, Valarie has always made it a point of emphasis to know her dental office’s patients.
Back at the start of her career, Valarie used ledger cards to remember patients, while today she and her team use other tools as reminders. However, she most often relies on her own memory to recognize faces and remember names.
“It’s my job to make patients feel special,” Valarie says.
“They’re the ones that chose us. We’re thankful that they did, so we do everything possible to make sure they feel welcome.”
Valarie also makes a concerted effort to know her patients’ interests.
She gathers that information through a small talk before and after appointments, then puts it in their charts for later reference.
Valarie and her team ask who referred patients to their dental office to better understand if they have family, friends, and acquaintances that are also patients.
Valarie’s standards haven’t changed at all over the course of her career. She continues to apply the same lesson she learned her first day, putting her office’s patients first and trains her staff to do the same. And, of course, that training starts with not asking for patients’ names.
But what has changed in dental office management since Valarie began her career?
From ledger cards to mobile apps: providing quality service
After working in Southern California, Valarie spent 28 years learning the nuts and bolts of dental office management in Oregon.
Then, she and her husband moved to Spokane, WA.
Valarie has been with Sodorff & Wilson Family Dentistry for three and a half years.
Sodorff & Wilson… Opens in a new window to Getweave.com website… is a traditional private practice with two owners, both of whom are dentists.
Valarie believes her patients appreciate this small business model. Today, it’s Valarie who’s doing the training of new hires, showing them everything she knows about procedures, scheduling, and collections.
Improvements in office technology, including practice management software and communication platforms like Weave, have made a lot of things easier.
However, computerized work can make it more difficult for those newer to the job to truly understand some front-office processes.
At Valarie’s first dental office job, she and her coworkers relied on ledgers, pegboards, and adding machines. These tools took more time, but Valarie feels they gave her a deeper understanding of how a dental office should function.
Technology has also impacted patient behavior. The speed and ease of technology can make some patients a bit impatient about any delays or challenges in getting their dental work. That’s why Valarie continues to rely on the same sense of customer service she developed at her first job.
“A lot of people don’t like coming to the dentist,” says Valarie. “It can be a scary place.”
To mitigate the issues caused by unreasonable expectations and fears, Valarie and her team try to “hit everybody where they want to be hit.”
So, they’re sure to utilize Weave’s automated text reminders… Opens in a new window to Getweave.com website… with younger patients, while many of their older patients also get phone calls.
They greet everyone that comes into the office and inquire about how their day is going without overwhelming them.
They have implemented additional payment options, like Weave’s text-to-pay – a feature Valerie particularly loves as well as their patients. And they send out review requests via text… Opens in a new window to Getweave.com website… after appointments to better understand how to serve their patients.
“My purpose is to relax patients and try to meet expectations as best we can,” says Valarie.
“In doing that, you get to know your patients. We’re not a corporate place where you’re just a number. We know our people.”
Knowing the people that come into her office has led Valarie Caulfield to a successful career in dental office management.
Despite changes in location and in the tools she uses to get the job done, Valarie has succeeded by practicing the lesson she learned the first day on the job: remembering patients and their names.
See how Val uses Weave in her office to keep a full schedule, make payments easy, get more reviews, and provide an excellent experience for their patients. https://weavepartners.com/1hm… Opens in a new window to Getweave.com website…