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Work quandary-to compress workweek or not

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  • Work quandary-to compress workweek or not

    I'm almost 58 yrs. of age and have been working for the same employer in a large dental office(owned by a specialist) for the last 13 yrs(had my own office for 15 yrs). I am one of three general dentists in an office that essentially can support only two year-round, in terms of new pt. influx.  I currently work 4 days/week and was considering dropping 1 day in order to try and compress my schedule at least for a short period of time to see how it works out.  I presented my idea to my employer who basically told me he would allow me to do it, but it'd have to be permanent.  My schedule "fell of a cliff" mid-February of this year and hasn't recovered since.  I basically fill week to week and essentially spread a 2 1/2-3 day schedule over my 4 days. I prefer not to pick up work elsewhere at this point in my career.  My income dropped (by 4k) in 2017, the first time since I started back in 2005.  Not sure if its a sign of things to come; I sure hope not.  My wife and I are a bit underfunded towards retirement, but I hope to retire by the time I hit Medicare eligibilty at 65.  Any advice on dropping the 1 day in order to try and compress my already weakened schedule?

  • #2




    I’m almost 58 yrs. of age and have been working for the same employer in a large dental office(owned by a specialist) for the last 13 yrs(had my own office for 15 yrs). I am one of three general dentists in an office that essentially can support only two year-round, in terms of new pt. influx.  I currently work 4 days/week and was considering dropping 1 day in order to try and compress my schedule at least for a short period of time to see how it works out.  I presented my idea to my employer who basically told me he would allow me to do it, but it’d have to be permanent.  My schedule “fell of a cliff” mid-February of this year and hasn’t recovered since.  I basically fill week to week and essentially spread a 2 1/2-3 day schedule over my 4 days. I prefer not to pick up work elsewhere at this point in my career.  My income dropped (by 4k) in 2017, the first time since I started back in 2005.  Not sure if its a sign of things to come; I sure hope not.  My wife and I are a bit underfunded towards retirement, but I hope to retire by the time I hit Medicare eligibilty at 65.  Any advice on dropping the 1 day in order to try and compress my already weakened schedule?
    Click to expand...


    Are you sure this isnt just a temporary dip in patient flow that cant be fixed by a strategic change in marketing, etc...? If you're not wanting to do so, I definitely would not meet this lower demand with lower availability. Bosses telling you if it picks up you wouldnt be allowed to increase again is very concerning as well. Volume fluctuates, maybe it comes right back. Not sure 4k is an actual drop in income, thats a mild mild fluctuation.

    I would also make sure, not to be cynical but it happens, that there isnt some kind of disproportionate flow of new pts, etc...going on.

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    • #3
      Thanks for the reply. How much more time would you give it to see if schedule rebounds? Its already been about 6 weeks. FWIW, no one tells my employer what to do.  NP's are supposed to be assigned to whomever has space on their schedule.  One co-worker has been there about 20 yrs. and has the larger following.  I started 13 yrs ago to replace someone who later went out on disability(in 2009). The third individual was brought in 2010 and has been the source of my greatest competition. That co-worker has a great deal of student loan debt, a large mortgage and is quite a shopper.  None of which helps me. I have no recourse at this time other than to suck it up(and its making me good and depressed and angry) and take my chances that my schedule recoups or just drop the day for good. I'm not sure how much longer I can deal with it mentally.

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      • #4




        Thanks for the reply. How much more time would you give it to see if schedule rebounds? Its already been about 6 weeks. FWIW, no one tells my employer what to do.  NP’s are supposed to be assigned to whomever has space on their schedule.  One co-worker has been there about 20 yrs. and has the larger following.  I started 13 yrs ago to replace someone who later went out on disability(in 2009). The third individual was brought in 2010 and has been the source of my greatest competition. That co-worker has a great deal of student loan debt, a large mortgage and is quite a shopper.  None of which helps me. I have no recourse at this time other than to suck it up(and its making me good and depressed and angry) and take my chances that my schedule recoups or just drop the day for good. I’m not sure how much longer I can deal with it mentally.
        Click to expand...


        6 weeks is nothing really. I am in a field that is very sensitive to economics and see wild swings and have several times wondered if its "slowing down", once it stalled hard 0% growth for newer grad (local economy took a hit), but did 20% more the next year. This year feels "meh" but is steady, though I think the source is advertising and owner organizational errors from the past finally coming to a head.

        One year our busy time went dead, it turned out there was some kind of tax return change and returns moved from earlier in the year to several weeks later. Simple things like that make huge differences.

        If you have a young, hungry/desperate co worker, I'd assume any time you give up is gone forever. I'd make sure the changes are permanent, limited to you (ie, is everyone slower aka economy/marketing) etc...This may take quite a while. Probably best to try to find a calm head space to be in and see what happens over a much much longer period of time before making any permanent decision.

        In any case, I'd run your expenses, etc...to make sure your glide path is on track. Theres certainly no reason to work more days if it can be done in less, but your situation sounds like you'd lose it permanently and any volume increase, which if you're not ready for I wouldnt give up.

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        • #5
          afr,

          I think Zaphod fielded this one well.  I agree with him.

          Also, I think you need to get clear in your head what you want.  Do you want to work more and make more?  If so, create an action plan to make it happen.  Be more available (not less), market, analyze your referral patterns, etc.  Consider a side gig.  Or consider changing practices to a busier one.

          If on the other hand, you feel it is time to start slowing down, then embrace the option of part-time work.  I love my 3-day a week work week.  Partly because it was my choice though.  And I'm financially independent so I don't stress about it.  We create our own reality.  Decide what you want and go for it.  You may have to prioritize and choose though (work vs money vs time off).

           

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          • #6
            I hear that you have some income needs for a few years, I'd suggest you'd define what glide path you need, to help make the next decisions.

            I also hear some concern about the working environment, and if you are actually happy at this role. Reading between the lines, I think I'd ask if it was just time to find a new place to work. If your office doesn't have enough patients, and you can't seem to find more, then I'd go find a new place to see patients. Sometimes a change has other benefits too!

             

            As far as compressing your schedule, if you can have a better quality of life, then it sounds awesome. I don't read your posts as finding time to go fishing, or someother great activity, but instead as a response to a lousy situation.

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            • #7


              My income dropped (by 4k) in 2017, the first time since I started back in 2005. Not sure if its a sign of things to come; I sure hope not. My wife and I are a bit underfunded towards retirement, but I hope to retire by the time I hit Medicare eligibilty at 65. Any advice on dropping the 1 day in order to try and compress my already weakened schedule?
              Click to expand...


              I am not quite sure about your state of mind. You are not fully funded to retirement. You worked only 4 days and now work 3, hoping to see as many patients in those 3 days as the 4 day schedule. Why? were you getting burned out. There was always the risk that the patients you would have seen on the dropped day would go to the hungry younger partner and the extra slots you opened on other days would not get filled as they get the competition from other employees.

              You need to decide if the loss in income is palatable. If not, go back to the 4 day week.

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              • #8
                My employer will not permit me to market on my own. And the day I would have to sacrifice is not one that my younger coworker currently works or would pick up.

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                • #9
                  I just find it very depressing and demoralizing to spread 2-2 1/2 days of patients over 4 days. And only book week to week. Again, this has been going on since mid-February

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                  • #10




                    I just find it very depressing and demoralizing to spread 2-2 1/2 days of patients over 4 days. And only book week to week. Again, this has been going on since mid-February
                    Click to expand...


                    We certainly have times of the year that are slower than others, I think that is a norm, especially in dentistry. We usually have a slower month in either Feb, Mar, Apr. Most typically it is February, this year February was super busy and the end of March and beginning of April are a little slower. You have enough experience to know what is normal for you and your practice. Since you are alarmed, this must not be normal?

                    In an ideal world, you work less hours and do the same amount of dentistry (make the same). However, you could also in turn get slower due to less availability. You are going to have the best insight into how you specifically would be affected. When I started out, I worked 6 days a week, that was great to build a patient base and become a better, more efficient provider. I slowly cut back hours and now work 3.5 days a week, my production never dropped, I just have less openings and am far more efficient. We are at different points in our careers so it may not work the same for you.

                    I have also seen that if patients see a younger doctor that they like and have a good experience with, they may continue to see them if they feel their current doc is phasing out. Could that be what is happening?

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                    • #11
                      I harbor a lot of resentment and anger towards my employer for bringing a 3rd wheel into the mix 9 yrs ago. I average a decent income but it's gotten more difficult to maintain every year

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                      • #12
                        And unfortunately im underfunded in my retirement savings and got to grind out another 7-9 more years til I hit my 65th or 67th birthday

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                        • #13
                          compressing will likely lead to a drop in income.  time to look for a new job, I think.

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                          • #14
                            Unfortunately I agree about the drop in income. I was down 4K last year and don't see things improving. All my condescending employer says is to look at my YTD, which right now is 5k higher than last year.at the same time Though I can't see how that's gonna last.

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                            • #15
                              It sounds to me that you are suggesting that your employer does not have your back, prohibits you from taking more control of your referral network, and limits your access to new referrals. You sound frustrated and without hope that things can get better. This makes me think that unless you take control of the situation, you are likely to remain demoralized, underemployed and underfinanced. I think you need a new plan to gain more control of your work life, possibly leaving this practice entirely. And working a few more years need not be a slog. It is far more likely to feel that way if you lack control over the conditions of your work.
                              My Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFF...MwBiAAKd5N8qPg

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