In the ideal world your hygiene school would be a huge clinic with returning patients who don’t mind staying for a 15 hour cleaning that they need to come back 6 times for. Friends and family are great but even they won’t like you too much after they have to take multiple vacation days off. We got pretty creative when it came to recruiting patients, here are a few of our methods.
10 Minute Social Media Rule
I know most of your social media is probably friends and family but hear me out! Every time you post on Facebook, chances are your post reaches 20 of your friends, at best, BUT if it gets at least 10 comments on it in less than 30 minutes it has a better reach. You have to learn to manipulate the Facebook algorithm like you’re trying to swindle your way out of that totally bull grade you got on that FMX.
If you don’t already have a class Facebook group, make one and invite all your classmates. When one of your classmates is ready to post about an available appointment have them notify the rest of the class in the group. This way when they post, the rest of you can comment making sure she gets at least 10 comments in the first half hour. Its also best if she replies to each comment too, because this adds to the 10 needed!
The comments can be anything really but it’s often helpful for each person to talk about the benefits of coming in. Talk about the price, sealants, fluoride treatments, you get the drift.
People still use this site believe it or not. Think of it as the Sunday paper, where people go to find job ads, items wanted, housing available etc. I found when I posted, the clientele was older adults and so I had a good chance of getting patients who fit more categories for what I was being graded on.
However when you post make sure to be very specific. Make sure to let the patient know this is not a place you can get fillings or a tooth pulled. Make sure to include the price and what they get for that price because it is an outstanding service we provide. Most importantly set the contact information to yourself. You don’t want to tell too much about the clinic location because then they may call and be placed with another student.
One HUGE mistake I made the first time I did this was not asking the patient the right questions. We were emailing back and forth and I never asked many of the medical history questions like when their last physical was. In my school if their last physical was over 5 years ago, I couldn’t touch them. This lead to me not being able to treat the patient even though they traveled so far for me. I felt so bad!
Leave a Flyer at Your Local…
Non profit organizations near you are another great place to bring awareness of the clinic to the community and find more patients. There are tons of people out there who need dental care but cannot afford to get that care or cannot afford insurance for that care. If you simply google the key phrase “non profit organizations near me”, you will defiantly get some good ideas where you can post some flyers.
One example is your local YMCA. There is sure to be a community board where members pass by daily. It is allowed to contain any community based event or service that is non-for-profit. It would be a great idea to make a phone number tear off flyer and pin it up at multiple Y sites near you. Make sure to put your direct contact information on the flyer to make sure they book with you!
Don’t Forget Your Own School
Students at your school may or may not have insurance. Same goes for staff who work part time or volunteer staff.
Just because someone attends your school, does not mean they are aware of every program and what the program entails. Leave flyers around the school that detail the dental cleanings. Having them book with you may be tricky because they may know where the dental clinic is and so they might just walk by and book when they have the chance to do so.
Once again make sure your contact information is on the flyer and give them the option to text your cellphone which would make the chances more likely that they contact you directly. Include engaging information on the flyer like “want to know more”, “need a cheap night guard”, or “want a custom made whitening tray”.
Share with your classmates
Going back to your Facebook class group, another way to utilize this platform is to communicate what requirements you still need and what you are willing to trade for it. Let’s say you have a little brother coming in to see you for a cleaning but they have some molars that could be sealed. If you have this requirement met already, give this to someone else and ask for something you need.
It may not always be an even or fair trade, but good deeds often bring good rewards. Rest assured your classmate will feel debted to you , and even other classmates will see how generous you are. They will be more likely to think of you when they have something they can offer up.
Another little side note, your professors are humans too. They need their teeth cleaned and often times the adjunct professors aren’t there full time to be offered benefits such as dental insurance. Offer to clean their chompers, they may say yes!
Think Middle School Fundraiser
Remember when your school was doing a fundraiser and you wanted that 5 pound Hersey Bar? I bet your mom would bring your magazine to work and do the legwork for you! Let’s call mom again and see if she can do that one more time.
Let your parents tell people at work about your clinic or even better make a flyer for them to take to work. Make it eye-catching and list all the services offered at the clinic. Co-workers are a great way to get people you can trust to come by and be your patient. They will fee obliged to stay for the duration of the appointment because they will want to see you succeed and take part in helping you.
If you aren’t familiar with the person, make sure to ask your parents what they are like. Get a good sense of what that person is looking for and make sure you speak to them about what the appointment will consist of. Our parents won’t know the ins and outs of the clinic appointment so make sure the patient is prepared before going in.
Make Your Own Business Cards
Let’s be honest, we were all broke in hygiene school. Yes you can purchase some business cards on sites like Canva or Vistaprint but you can also make your own. With some card stock paper, make a design on Google Docs or on Canva. Make sure to pick a layout specifically for business cards so that you get the right measurements.
Once you are happy with your design, print and cut! It’s really that simple, why make it a difficult process for yourself? These sites offer wonderful eye-catching templates but you need to make sure you have some essential information points on these cards, here are some examples:
Strike up a conversation with anyone and everyone. It really helps when you have your scrubs and name tag on. People tend to ask what you do for work or if you just got out of work. Anytime the conversation comes up, hand out that card! This of course means you will have to have them on you. Have some in every bag you carry around, and again give some to your friends and family so they can help with the legwork too.
High volume traffic areas
This is very similar to bringing your flyer to your local non profits but make sure you’re not forgetting places where many people live or hangout. My mom lives in a great neighborhood where all these cute cookie-cutter houses are lined up for perfect flyer distribution. Driving to and from school, I’m sure you can think of at least one congregated area that would make the perfect place.
If your school is far from your home, I get not wanting to advertise near your home because chances are they aren’t going to travel that far. Instead ask your fellow classmates or professors for pointers and areas that are safe but great for handing out your clinic information. Keep in mind professions that may not offer dental insurance such as retail workers, waiters, and even other hygienists working part time.
Local Schools With Low Income Population
A dental clinic is a wonderful thing to be able to offer to your community. Research shows that kids that live in low income areas have more incidence of decay and are less likely to go to routine dental visits. Bringing some dental information and even supplies if possible, may encourage some parents to bring in their children to the dental clinic.
This tip, although easy to just drop off information, can prove difficult at times. Depending on your state, the child may have state funded insurance. Their dental insurance may be free even though they may not be taking advantage of this benefit. That being said they may not want to pay money for a service their insurance pays for.
To combat this make sure to add a lot of beneficial information in your flyers. Point out that sealants prevent cavities and tend to be over $40 at dental offices. You can talk about caries occurrence in the area and how your clinic provides everyone with fluoride treatments. These may be services they have coverage on already but may not be aware of or may not know why they are important in the first place.
Call Past Patients of the clinic
Best tip of all ten right here! You have access to hundreds if not thousands of patients that have already been seen at the clinic. You can see their notes, their history, and their x-rays. You will be able to see all their missed and cancelled appointments to see if they would be a good fit for you. I mean what other place can you a find a patient that you can pretty much filter for your specific needs?
Lets say you need a class 4 patient. You may want to look through patients that have not been back in a few years and who where class 4 when they originally came. Chances may be that they have not gone back to the dentist after coming to the clinic and may be willing to come back if someone reaches out to them.
Lastly if someone does not pick up and you wish to leave a message, leave your number so that if they call back, they can contact you directly. However make sure this is okay with the staff at your program! On a side note there are many apps out there that allow you to use a different number so that you do not have to worry about giving your personnel number out to strangers.
I got some amazing patients from the methods I listed above. My board’s patient was a clinic patient I called. Little did I know this would be such a meaningful connection. The day of my boards she had to be there at 7am. She had just gotten out of work at 6am! Needless to say I paid her well for her time and commitment; your boards patient will be someone you will not forget!
- 10 Minute Social Media Rule
- Remember Craigslist
- Leave a Flyer at a Local…
- Don’t Forget your School
- Share With Your Classmates
- Think Middle School Fundraiser
- Make Your Own Business Cards
- High Volume Traffic Areas
- Local Schools With Low Income Populations
- Call past Patients of the Clinic