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June 2017

A Vacation/Leave Policy will Simplify Time-off Requests

Dental teams all need time away to recharge, rest, and renew that work/life balance, but. handling those time-off requests and keeping the needs of patients at the forefront can present some challenges.

The best tool to help manage this chaos is a vacation/leave time policy. This policy will be your guideline for granting that time off, outlining how time off is accrued, the parameters of how and when to request time off, vacation/leave time carryover, and what happens upon separation of employment with remaining earned time. NOTE: Leaves of absence are different than vacation or personal time policies.

Communication with staff is instrumental in helping employees understand the parameters and expectations of your policy. Great opportunities to communicate with staff include when new employees are hired, when updates are made to the policy, or when questions come up about a policy.

Your policy should:

  • define paid time off, who qualifies, what accrual system is used, and how is it taken;
  • outline how time off requests are to be made;
  • determine if any unused time is carried over to the next year or is paid out in cash;
  • define how any unused earned time is paid out upon separation from the practice and whether there are conditions that need to be met in order to meet this policy; and
  • establish any provisions for part-time vs. full-time employees, what occurs when an employee moves from part-time to full-time (or vice versa), and what happens when an employee who left the practice is rehired.

Patient care is your priority and the best practice when developing a time-off policy but it is also imperative to create a policy that is regarded as fair to employees. Employees will accept policies that they don’t like as long as they view them as fair. Nothing undermines office morale more than a feeling of unfairness.

In the event your practice does not have a complete employee handbook, make plans to attend the Dec. 8 MDA seminar “Make-and-Take Human Resource Handbook,” featuring Jodi Schafer, SPHR. The course will guide you through the process of creating a complete handbook, which includes all policies that should and shouldn’t be included in your handbook. If you cannot attend the seminar, check out the MDA’s Staff Matters Human Resources System, which includes an editable human resources handbook and a host of sample policies. Both printed and digital versions of Staff Matters are available on the MDA Web Store. If you are in need of single policy revisions or updates to single policies, please feel free to contact Brandy Ryan, MDA director of human resources, to help you update your policy.

Remind your dental team: license renewal deadline is Aug. 31

Take a moment and remind your entire dental team to check if their license expires this year — the renewal deadline is Aug. 31.

Dentists, registered dental hygienists, and registered dental assistants receive just ONE license renewal notice from the state of Michigan 60 days prior to their license expiration date. Sixty hours of acceptable continuing education is required for every three-year license renewal period for dentists, while RDHs and RDAs must complete 36 hours every three-year renewal period.

Just added to the relicensure process is a new requirement for dentists to verify they have a written dental records policy on file in the office. To help your office meet this new requirement, the MDA has developed a sample dental records policy for you to use.

MDA staff regularly attends the Michigan Board of Dentistry meetings and has noticed an increase in CE audits. If a dental professional renews his or her license without proof of the required CE hours, he or she will be in violation of the Michigan Public Health Code and subject to reprimand, probation, denial, revocation or limitation of license, restitution, and fine.

Likewise, individuals who do not renew their licenses by the deadline face serious consequences. Without a current license, an individual cannot legally practice as a dentist, hygienist, or RDA. A late renewal, even for a brief period, may subject the practice to the loss of thousands of dollars in income. Insurers will deny claims for any treatment provided while the license was expired. The doctor’s malpractice coverage will not apply if he/she practiced without a license. And, unlicensed practitioners may be forced to pay a late renewal penalty by the state.

Make sure your dental team is up to date on their CE, too. Several courses are still available this summer (see related article below) for those whose licenses expire in August. The complete 2017-18 Continuing Education Catalog appeared in the May MDA Journal and is also available on the MDA website. NOTE: The newly mandated training in human trafficking identification is not required for those whose licenses renew this August, but will be required before the end of licensees’ next renewal cycle.

Online renewal is available 45 to 60 days before the expiration of your license. Visit For questions on CE, contact Andrea Sundermann, or call 800-589-2632, ext. 403.

Benefits, insurance, and cross coding highlight upcoming CE seminars

Get the important information on dental benefits, insurance contracts, and the latest trend of medical cross coding at these upcoming MDA seminars.

Dental Benefits 2017 and Dental Insurance Contracts 101: At this two-part program on Friday, July 28, with Chris Smiley, DDS, and Dan Schulte, JD, you’ll get a review of the current dental benefit landscape, including new CDT codes, marketplace trends, plan design, and systems. Plus, learn the facts about dental insurance contracts — what you should look out for generally, and some less-than-obvious consequences when you sign your name to that contract. The seminar takes place at MDA headquarters in Okemos, with six CE credits.

Abra-“Code”-Abra: The Steps to Successful Cross Coding: Join Marianne Harper on either Friday, Aug. 11 or Saturday, Aug. 12 for a full-day course that takes the difficulty out of dental-medical cross coding and helps your dental practice become part of the latest trends in cutting-edge modern dentistry.


Contact Information

MDA Practice Management Department
Ginger Fernandez, RDH, RDA
Manager, Professional Review and Practice Management

MDA Human Resources Department
Brandy Ryan, PHR, SHRM-PC
MDA Director of Human Resources