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“Oh, you’re not Debbie!”

Help! I am a part-time hygienist in the same office for about a year now. Every so often, when I go to bring a patient back, they give me a look, and say that I’m not the usual hygienist and that they normally see the other hygienist. They almost always complain that no one told them they were going to have someone new. At this point, the patient and I are standing in the middle of the waiting area and I am left dumbfounded. I have no idea what to say!!! Sometimes, they even walk in to the other hygienists room despite what I say!! It’s very frustrating, and I don’t know how to respond… or if there’s even anything I should say to reception. Most times, patients are happy to try someone new. But when they make a fuss, I’m left speechless. Help!!!

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2 Answers

This happens to me quite often, unfortunately.
I’ve had a patient walk half way back with me then say I’m not their regular hygienist & then say can I talk to the front desk, then cancel their appointment because they wanted their usual hygienist.
For the other patients, I explain that their hygienist isn’t there that day & we can make sure they schedule with her for their next visit. Most of them are fine with that, still somewhat skeptical but fine.
I honestly try not to get offended by it because I hope that someday I have my regular patients that only want to see me. I look up to the hygienists for having such a good rapport with their patients!
I would ask that the front let them know who their hygienist is when they call to confirm appointments. Anytime I fill in for another RDH they always check with the patient first, to make sure they’re ok with seeing me.

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This has happened to me also. It is a tough situation because some people get so comfortable with their previous hygienist that they don’t always like having someone “new”. I had this happen quite a bit in my first 6 months to a year after starting at my current office because I came in to fill the position of the previous hygienist who wasn’t there anymore. The person I took the place of was at that office for about 12 years so everyone was very used to her and were always saying “you aren’t [the previous hygienist]”, “where is [she]”. I would just say she isn’t here any longer and I have taken her spot. Usually, after the first appointment, the patients were okay with it and didn’t mind. I also get patients that usually see the other hygienist that is still there and has been there for 10 years, and worse case, I will put them back with her the next appointment and they are okay with it. Out front office girls are good about making sure to tell the patient they will be with a different hygienist at this appointment. If a patient calls to reschedule, they will ask them if they mind being with a different hygienist and if they want to stay with the same, they will put them with that hygienist. I have many patients that only want me now which makes me feel good, but it does still happen on occasion that they aren’t the happiest that they have someone new.

I actually had someone that was not happy AT ALL that they had a new hygienist because they were with the previous hygienist that was no longer there. I explained the situation and I was very nice to them and tried to make good conversation and now they only want me and want an alert on their chart so everyone knows not to schedule them with anyone else! That makes me feel good that there are some people that are open to someone new! I have been at my current office for 2 and half years and for the most part, out patients trust both me and the other hygienist so they don’t mind who they see!

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