Is Your Practice Short-Staffed?

It’s time to rethink “short staff” and see your staff for what it is.

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Have you ever come to work, looked around and thought, “Wow, we are fully staffed!” Sound like a dream? Probably so. Most days, in most practices, the staff is “short” due to someone’s illness, child’s illness, vacation, jury duty, maternity leave, funeral … plenty of reasons to not have the full team that was scheduled actually on the floor for their entire shift. I propose a solution to being “short staffed”… we no longer consider ourselves “short,” and simply realize that this IS the entire staff we can expect any given day.

So instead of being short most days, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you have an “extra” person clocked in to help! Wouldn’t that be nice — to feel positive for a few days, instead of feeling negative most the time?

I may have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: Sometimes, some of us are just not that sympathetic when a team member is out sick. How do you know who is unsympathetic? You’ll hear comments such as “she didn’t seem that sick yesterday,” “geez, she was just sick X number of days ago,” “she’s always sick” (even if she’s really on out a few days per year). The unsympathetic comments often continue when the person shows back up at work: “you don’t look very sick,” “did you enjoy your day off yesterday?” “do you think you’ll stay all day today then?” Looks pretty cruel when it’s laid out like that, huh?

Here’s the deal: It isn’t up to any of us to determine if someone else is too sick to work. In the same breath as we strike out at them, we also state that WE don’t want to get sick. Guess what, that can only happen IF the infected person stays home! Seems like practices send around a bug, hits one after the other, and then two months is back to the person who started it. We work in very close quarters, so contamination is expected. But in an effort to stay “fully staffed” all the time, we condemn those who take a sick day. How is “sick” defined? What symptoms validate staying home?

I was wondering this myself, and then I had an epiphany. As a mother, there are very strict guidelines for when you CANNOT send your child to school. Generally if they have a temperature over 100, a new cough, on antibiotics less than 24 hours, skin rash, those sorts of things will deem the child to be kept home. It’s not at the judgement of the parent, but at the insistence of the school for the safety and good health of everyone else in the facility.

Why can’t we do the same thing? Having a Sick Policy in our practice that defines what qualifies as “sick”, and take the blame off the person who doesn’t feel well to begin with. Just a thought, but it seems to work at school. That way, with set parameters, you cannot be accused of just being sick in the head! 

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