One of the major hurdles to project participation is a practitioner’s perception that ten days to four weeks away from the practice will be disastrous. But, that is typically not the case. With proper planning, a volunteer mission need not be a financial hardship. Patients will still be there upon your return and may actually have a more favorable view of your practice. If volunteering becomes somewhat routine, patients are likely to inquire as to the success of the last trip or even about plans for the next one. Your service can also generate a significant amount of interest in and curiosity about the office, especially if some other staff members are on the team as well.
When a dentist is away, practice activities can continue smoothly—especially if he or she is in a group practice. In solo practices, it is possible to hire a semi-retired or retired dentist or a recent dental school graduate who has some time available. Often, the local dental association will have a list of locum tenens dentists who will be able to cover the practice during your absence. The hygiene practice can continue and, with proper notification, other patients could be scheduled as well. The other option is, of course, to shut the office down completely and have all staff take their vacation days at the same time.