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Dominating rdh/coworker

I’ve read about this happening before but haven’t experienced it personally. Been in practice for 16 yrs, at current practice 3+ yrs. I have great pts, great rapport, a good team member, all around i feel like i’m an asset to the practice. I know my shortcomings, mistakes and am willing to learn. That said, i do understand that maybe sometimes you just dont jive with a certain patient. That’s why i’m happy to work with another rdh, to learn from, confide in, brainstorm, etc. I get it, it happpens, it goes both ways. No big deal in that for me. However my fellow rdh is very controlling over claiming the pts that she sees. She calls them from her home and texts them to see how they liked the “other” hygienist (whether is was me or someone filling in for her). She barges in my room as im walking my pt to my op, stands in front of the tray table having a conversation with them as I’m trying to get started. She walks into my op, which is fine with me for most things,but to to chit chat and hug them, while im working on them. She reviews ALL of my progress notes–for patients i’ve seen each day, and everything on my schedule. I recently noticed that a patient i’ve been seeing– his wife-who sees my coworker wants him to see her. Which-i know i cant help this. But she’s gone so far to make entries in his chart regarding this-which she’s never done before, she reviews the treatment i did on a spouse of one of her patients, and questions my diagnosis with them. She has done this in the past-which if i rec srp-she tells them they dont need it or that their hc is good-what they want want to hear. I would never disrespect another rdh like this, i would never think to discredit another rdh, especially when we are working for the same doctor. Though I’ve asked her many times in the past if it would be ok to wait until i walked the patient up front to visit with the patients it doesnt seem to work. I asked her not to interupt the way she does. I try to be nice about this. I’ve spoken with the dr and the OM which it works for awhile but then she’s back at it. The rdh i replaced left because of her antics, the one before that she made cry. I used to fill in for this rdh and heard first hand. I dont want to be a b to her and make her cry-which she will and make up some crazy excuse as to why she’s the only one that can possibly take care of someone. I like my patients, i like the office i work in. I feel i’m gentle, thorough and a good rdh. This situation isn’t one where i would look for another job, though this week with the wife situation, made me wonder if she should be the only rdh. I think what i need in posting this is some reassurance and advice. Am I crazy?

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1 Answer

This question really hit home to me because I have been in a very similar situation. Not that I need to tell you, but it’s not a fun situation at all! I had a great relationship with the doctor and dental assistant, but the other hygienist was very passive aggressive and made for an uncomfortable working situation. It was embarrassing and frustrating. Ultimately I left that office because it became too much to bear.

You are certainly not crazy in feeling how you feel. Simply put, the other hygienist isn’t acting professional and is quite possibly stepping over normal patient-provider relationship boundaries (especially by calling patients at home to “gossip” about their treatment by others within the office).

It sounds like you’ve already done a lot of what you can do in a situation like this. You’ve spoken to the RDH directly and brought it up with the Dr. and OM. Since it hasn’t gotten to the point where you see no other option but leaving the office completely, maybe you can see if you can work a different schedule than the other RDH. Obviously this depends on how our schedules currently are, office hours, etc. so it might not even be a possibility. If there is no other way to avoid her, then it’s best to keep putting your foot down every time she pulls one of her antics. With passive-aggressive people, many will stop if they are directly confronted. They are passive aggressive because they don’t like outright conflict, so this can get them to stop. Although from personal experience, this isn’t always the case.

Regardless of whether directly confronting her works or not, you need to keep the Dr. and OM in the loop when things are happening. They need to know that this RDH is causing problems for you and potentially for the office by calling patients outside of work. How your Dr. and OM handle it will tell you a lot about whether things will improve. If they take action and put a stop to it, then the problem should go away. If they allow this behavior to continue unchecked then unfortunately it probably won’t get any better and you will have to decide how long you can continue to work in that environment.

I wish you the very best of luck in dealing with this situation!

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