Managing the Practice During and After Pregnancy: Practice Owners/Managers

Guidelines for Practice Success | Managing Pregnancy Resources | Business Operations

While there’s no all-inclusive list of questions and answers that can cover every possible situation involving pregnancy, you can prepare for many of them by considering possible scenarios and developing action plans to implement if needed. The following list of suggested topics and questions can help you get started.

Personal health considerations during pregnancy

  • Have I developed a plan outlining the steps my team should take if I experience a medical event that requires attention?
    • What information should I include in the emergency plan? Does it include:
      • My physician’s name and contact information?
      • An outline detailing who else to contact plus their information?
      • Information regarding the order in which my contacts should be notified of the medical event?
      • Who should be contacted if my spouse/partner isn’t available?
      • The name and address of the hospital where I plan to deliver the baby?
      • A listing of all the medications and/or supplements I’m currently taking as well as information about allergies?
    • Have I decided which staff member I want to serve as my primary (and secondary) advocate in case I need that type of support?
      • Have I asked those individuals, in private, if they’re willing to accept that responsibility?
    • Have I shared the plan with my staff?
      • Does the entire team know who my primary advocates are so there’s no confusion among the team regarding who should take action if there’s a medical event?

Financial considerations during pregnancy

  • How long a leave do I plan to take? Two months? Three?
  • Are my savings/financial reserves sufficient to cover that amount of time?
  • Is my financial cushion enough to cover living and business expenses if I have to stop practicing earlier than expected or am placed on bed rest? Or if I decide to extend my leave?

Post-pregnancy

  • Is my financial cushion enough to cover my family and me if I decide to take an extended maternity leave, work part-time, or temporarily close the practice?
  • Who will care for the newborn? What are their hours, costs, etc.?

Patient considerations

  • How will my decisions regarding how to manage the practice while I’m on maternity leave impact my patients? 

It’s important to know that, in order for a patient to be fully engaged in and informed about treatment, dentists have an ethical obligation to inform them of changes such as the dentist being away on maternity leave, the temporary closing of the practice, or the decision to implement a mutual aid arrangement and/or involve a locum tenens dentist in the practice. Guidance on matters relating to Patient Autonomy is available in Section 1 of the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct

Business considerations during pregnancy

  • Should I lighten my schedule? 
  • How will I manage patients, and income vs. expenses, if I decide to work fewer hours? 
  • Should I stop doing lab cases at a certain date because I may not be able to deliver the completed case before my leave/delivery?

Post pregnancy

  • What happens when I begin my maternity leave?
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  • Should I close the practice temporarily or find another dentist, or multiple dentists, to treat my patients while I’m out?
    • How will I find – and vet – dentists who might be able to see my patients on an interim basis?
    • Will those patient care visits take place at my practice with my staff team or will patients go to someone else’s practice?
    • Does my state or local dental association have recommendations for dentists who might be able to fill in for me?
    • Is a mutual aid agreement an option?
      • Mutual aid agreements in dentistry are arrangements among dentists who agree to temporarily cover a colleague’s office and patients until the dentist returns to the practice or, if the dentist is unable to return to practice, until the practice can be sold. See the Guidelines for The Development of Mutual Aid Agreements in Dentistry, a comprehensive resource developed by the ADA’s Council on Dental Practice, for tips on how to set one up and details on the protections and responsibilities involved in a mutual aid agreement.
    • Who else can I contact for suggestions?
    • What if my pregnancy leave needs to be extended days or weeks due to my own medical necessity? How will I cover that extended time?
  • Does the leave I plan to take comply with my own policies?
  • Is there a “dentist/new parent network” that I can reach out to for general advice and/or specific concerns?

Staffing considerations during and post-pregnancy

  • How comfortable am I delegating certain responsibilities to my staff?
  • What duties can be delegated? And to whom?
  • Which staff members are most qualified to take on additional duties?
  • How do I distribute responsibilities so no one feels overwhelmed? Or overlooked?
  • What training will my staff need in order to successfully perform these new responsibilities?
  • Who has the passwords for different systems? Should back-ups be put in place?
  • Who do I trust to do payroll? Are they bonded? Do they need to be? What system of checks and balances should I put into place?
  • Should I keep the practice open while I’m on leave?
    • What happens if I don’t?
    • Will the staff lose their health insurance if the practice closes temporarily?
    • Is it possible to keep a few staff members on the active payroll to keep the practice open while I’m out?

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