Scheduling for School Aged Children
Your pediatric patients have needs (both psychological and medical) that vary with age. These needs affect the way your office manages their care. Kids in school can have difficulty adjusting to changes in their routine. They have the energy and curiosity characteristic to young children, but they are also learning discipline as they settle into a structured routine of education.
The way you schedule school aged children for their appointments needs to reflect an understanding of their strengths and limitations.
Consider Energy Levels and Attention Span
Kids tend to be friendly, cooperative, and positive first thing in the morning. They have more energy and are eager to start the day. Afternoons tend to be more difficult. Children are tired out from what could have been a stressful day at school. Some young children even need a nap in the afternoon and are used to having that rest time during the day.
Another factor to keep in mind is that treatment can unexpectedly run overtime. Whether this is due to dental complications or the patient's lack of cooperation, this event can be exhausting for patient, parent, and provider. An appointment that runs late in the morning should be less fatiguing than one that goes overtime at the end of the day when everyone is ready to go home.
Work with the Parents' Schedule and Preference
Parents may prefer to bring their school-aged child to a dental appointment in the afternoon when it won't interfere with work or school. This is understandable and may be feasible in some situations. The most important thing is giving each child the dental care they need, no matter when it happens.
Nonetheless, try to help the parents to understand how a wisely scheduled appointment will make the treatment the success it can be for their child. Missing one day (or even just a half day) of school shouldn't adversely affect a child's overall attendance and performance. Help parents see that you are on their side and support their child in every endeavor. If required, have an absence note provided to the school to excuse the child's absence.
Promote Preventive Care
Stressing the value of preventive care is a great way to encourage parents to schedule their children when you recommend. Preventive care includes procedures such as sealants, excellent oral hygiene, fluoride use, and regular dental cleanings and examinations.
If parents diligently bring their children in for dental checkups, then the likelihood of their child developing cavities and needing extensive treatment is reduced. Is it preferable to miss two mornings of school a year for cleanings? Or to miss several entire days due to the need for extensive dental treatment?
Balance Policy with Flexibility
As a professional dental care provider for children, you are obligated to put the patient's needs above all else. One way you do this is by striving to ensure that each child is treated at a time that will do him or her the most benefit. You can successfully collaborate with parents in this matter to determine an appropriate time of day to schedule children that are currently enrolled in school.