Dental Recovery Planning is important to your successful transition back to work. Whether you are injured in an accident or severely ill due to cancer, you do have a fighting chance to return to work as a dentist. By carefully developing a plan to return to work, you can successfully meet the many challenges you will encounter. You will not need a plan in the first phase of your recovery/rehabilitation. As your prognosis becomes more clear,  you will be able to work out a feasible plan for you. This is a customized plan and we will give you some recommended suggestions.  No two dentists are the same and each will face a different disability in intensity and length.

First you will need to develop a timeline. This will based on how you are today and when you predict you will be able to return to work.  Be careful to factor in the likelihood that you will not have the same production capabilities at first.  You may quickly regain your skills/strength, but it may take time to approach your same level of efficiency. How long will you have been away?  How many patients are still yours and will they return when notified?   Do you have the same staff and will you need to hire/train new team members?  Each of these questions need answers and need to be factored into your plan.

Once you have a firm date in mind, start with the basics. You will need patients. Have your front desk personnel begin to schedule appointments. Realize your medical condition may deteriorate, and you always need to be prepared.  Schedule lightly at first, with exams and simple dental procedures. Make sure you have sufficient staff, and let them know your plans. Your staff will need to ensure that sufficient supplies are available and they have not expired since your accident/illness. Verify your lab orders are completed and have arrived for patients that need them. Be ready for delivery.

Speak with the dentists who have been covering your practice during your absence, and have them inform you on the status of your patients. You may need them again or you may use them to help you at first. You may have sold your practice during your illness and are starting as an associate.  Make sure your legal documentation is completed.

Verify that your licenses and certifications are valid and current. Make sure you are up to date with your insurance providers so there is no billing problems. Keep up with your professional dues, fees, and privileges.

Consider making a formal reentry back to work. This may entail an open house or back to work party for your office staff and patients.  A little marketing never hurts, and use your renewed health to your advantage.  Use social media to your best ability to get the word out that you are returning to work. A countdown scenario is an option. Understand that you do have the option of saying little or nothing and quietly returning to work too.

Be prepared for a drop in production and little to nothing in your accounts receivable. It will take time to build up your account again due to the insurance cycle. Consider a loan if your practice overhead insurance does not pay enough. Be smart with your disability company. If you suffer a loss in production, you will very likely be eligible for residual benefits even if you are working. You will only need to prove a loss/decreased production. These benefits may be paid to the full length of you policy if you continue to function with decreased production due to your disability.

Take the time to develop a written plan while you are recovering from your accident/illness. Leave space to fill in the areas that are still questionable. Do not try to develop a plan without help from your staff/friends/spouse. The more time you spend on the plan and the more detail you include, the easier your transition will be for everyone.

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