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743: The Secret to Efficiency: The Checklist – Miranda Beeson & Carlie Einarson

What takes a practice from good to great? One secret ingredient is the checklist. To explain how a simple habit can make your life better, Kirk Behrendt brings back Miranda Beeson and Carlie Einarson, two of ACT’s amazing coaches, to share the best practices for creating, maintaining, and implementing checklists in your practice. To learn how to be more efficient in your day, listen to Episode 743 of The Best Practices Show!

Learn More About Miranda & Carlie:

Learn More About ACT Dental:

More Helpful Links for a Better Practice & a Better Life:

Episode Resources:

Main Takeaways:

  • Checklists create efficiency and predictability.
  • Having a checklist will help you be present with patients.
  • Don't set it and forget it. Use your checklist on a daily basis.
  • You can't make the checklists for your team. Get them involved.
  • A checklist will make it easier for your team to support one another.
  • Audit your checklists regularly. It will motivate your team to follow them.
  • Use checklists in other areas of your life to help you be more productive.
  • Your checklists are living documents. They will change and grow with you.


“One of the reasons the checklist is so important is efficiency. Checklists help us to organize tasks, help to make sure nothing falls through the cracks, reduces our overall stress, and creates smoother operations.” (2:03—2:18) -Miranda

“[Having a checklist] helps our team members have roles and responsibilities and clarify the tasks in the office. It is a living, breathing document that can always be changed. I love to laminate the checklist, have it available, out and ready for every single team member to be able to use. It's always living and breathing, so we can always change it and adjust it. It helps so that we don't micromanage as much, and it keeps everybody on the same page. So, I think they're amazing.” (3:01—3:32) -Carlie

“When we're people-dependent, it's really, really hard when people come and go. What if Jane has to move? Jane has been an amazing patient care coordinator for you for five years, and now we have to bring on someone new. But Jane has everything in her brain that she does every day, day in and day out. It's a replicable resource to have a checklist so the next person that comes on board, it's not so people-dependent. It is more systems-dependent. And now, Susie, who joined your team, can use her personality to stand out in your practice, not just her knowledge base.” (5:00—5:30) -Miranda

“Teams will often ask, ‘So, we made that checklist. Should we have that out?’ Yes, you do want to use the checklist that you make on a daily basis, for sure. That's a big piece of this, is actually utilizing it. We don't want to write it down just to document it because, yes, if it's not written down, it doesn't exist. We always want to document systems. We want to have something as a written resource that we can work from, always. But with a checklist, it’s a little bit different than a system. A checklist is intended to be utilized on a daily basis.” (7:46—8:21) -Miranda

“At a certain point, even though a checklist is amazing, it can get a little stale. So, I do really love that it's living and breathing. We can always update and change it because we are changing all the time, and we are growing and getting better.” (8:49— 9:03) -Carlie

“You have to start by prioritizing the tasks that are most important. Maybe you start with what's most important and what you're doing most frequently so you can focus on the key activities that contribute to patient care the most. Personally, I like them for administrative team members, and I like them for chairside procedures for dental assistants, first. I think hygienists . . . there's a little more monotony to our day. There's not as much variation, to be completely honest. Could they function in the hygiene department? Absolutely. But I think that for most offices, if you look at prioritizing departmentally, what do we do the most frequently, and then what provides the most impact or importance contributing to our patient care?” (9:28—10:13) -Miranda

“I love having a checklist for everybody so that everybody is involved, and everybody is held accountable. So, even if it's a back-office checklist that the hygienists help with for a.m., p.m., closing down the office — how many times have we left the office and been like, ‘Oh my gosh, I forgot to do X, Y, and Z’? If it's on the checklist, then you know you did it. It helps with the headache, so you know you're coming in and you're going to have a very productive, smooth day the next day because everything was completed the evening before.” (10:33—11:06) -Carlie

“[The checklist is] a living, breathing document. So, you get it to the first 80% on your first go around, and you are going to find things that are missing from it, or like, ‘Oh, you know what we should add on here?’ And the really cool part is when the team is participating in that checklist, they're going to be the ones who are making the additions and making the changes and getting more and more bought in. The more they contribute to developing it, the more bought in they're going to be to the outcome of it.” (13:28—13:49) -Miranda

“Getting the team involved, having them take it to the next 80%, getting them bought in, will also make them hold each other accountable as teammates. So, it won't just be you as the leader having to hold every single person accountable. Everyone else will be able to hold each other accountable too.” (14:13—14:29) -Carlie

“E – R = C. Expectations minus reality will always equal conflict. One of the things we hear most often from teams are those little complaints or concerns of like, ‘I'm not sure if so-and-so is doing everything they're supposed to be doing,’ or, ‘I wonder what she's even doing up there,’ or, ‘Goodness, gracious. She has to leave the room every time we're doing a crown prep procedure. It's driving me crazy.’ And so, the question I always pose to coaching clients, or what I always share with them is E – R = C. Is the expectation clear of what it is that you're expecting of that person, and then the reality is just missing the mark, or have we not been clear with our expectations? And so, now there's this false conflict because the person thinks they're doing a great job because all they've ever heard from you is, ‘Great job today. Thanks. Great job today. Thanks.’ These checklists allow you to have a lot of clarity around what the responsibilities are around the tasks for each role or each procedure or each department.” (14:41—15:38) -Miranda

“I'm going to play devil's advocate. I'm a doctor. ‘I don't have time to look through seven checklists at the end of the day.’ It doesn't have to be that scrutinous. The fact that it's there, for one, is a sign that they're doing it. If it's expected to be there, they don't need to know that you're not like, grading them. But if it's expected to be there, the likelihood of follow-through is going to be much higher. So, I don't want anyone to think that it's going to be this added level of stress. It's literally a glance to go like, ‘Oh, great. We checked everything off the list today.’” (21:08—21:38) -Miranda

“Doctors think I'm crazy when I work with teams where maybe their X-rays aren't awesome, or they maybe are still consistently having issues with not having everything available in the setup. I say, when you walk in the room, another level of accountability is like, ‘I'll be back when that checklist is ready.’ And then, you turn around and come back after a few minutes. If you do that twice, the assistant is going to be working the checklist the next time.” (21:42—22:08) -Miranda

“If somebody is in the weeds, you want to be able to step in and help. A lot of times, you don't know what to do. If I'm a hygienist, I don't know exactly how to help a dental assistant or how to help the insurance coordinator. But if there's a checklist or something with very clear directive, then I can if I have an hour where I have a patient that didn't show up. I can go support my teammates through their checklist.” (24:39—24:59) -Miranda

“If you're just getting started with this, you're not going to have every single checklist under the sun that you're going to need for the office. So, take it day by day, step by step.” (26:21—26:29) -Carlie

“You can't make the checklist for your team. A lot of doctors want to be like, ‘I'll just get it done. It'll be faster if I go make these checklists and get it done.’ Number one — sorry, but you really don't know a lot of what everybody does in the office. There are so many little things that you don't know — and that's okay. If you want to get them to the first 50%, maybe. But really involve your team. Make sure the team is part of the creation of the checklist.” (27:34—28:01) -Miranda

“The more that your team is involved in the creation of [your checklists], the more they're going to use them and be on board with the process.” (28:34—28:40) -Miranda

“Have [your checklists] be a living, breathing document. Again, it can change in your practice any day, any time. Obviously, we want to follow the checklist. But if we need to update it, we can. Always be able to revise them. So, keep a digital version. And then, make sure that they are out and in use every day. They're in front of our faces. We don't just make them and keep them on the computer and never look at them again.” (28:50—29:16) -Carlie

“With patients there in front of you, [a checklist] does help you become more present with the patient, or on the phone, because then you're not worrying about, ‘Oh, what was I doing right before I answered this phone?’ or, ‘What was I doing right before I was presenting this treatment plan? I need to go back.’ It's there for you so that you can be more present in the office with the patients, which is why we're in the office.” (31:37—31:59) -Carlie


0:00 Introduction.

1:29 Why this is an important topic.

7:38 Use your checklist every day.

8:37 A checklist is a living, breathing document.

9:13 Prioritize your most important tasks in the checklist.

10:24 Have a checklist for everyone to keep them involved.

11:32 Be fascinated, not frustrated.

13:25 The simpler, the better.

14:29 Clarify expectations with checklists.

19:19 Audit your checklists.

21:05 Be consistent and use positive reinforcement.

23:58 Checklists make it easier to support one another.

27:14 Final thoughts.

Miranda Beeson, MS, BSDH Bio:

Miranda Beeson, MS, BSDH, has over 25 years of clinical dental hygiene, front office, practice administration, and speaking experience. She is enthusiastic about communication and loves helping others find the power that words can bring to their patient interactions and practice dynamics. As a Lead Practice Coach, she is driven to create opportunities to find value in experiences and cultivate new approaches.

Miranda graduated from Old Dominion University, and enjoys spending time with her husband, Chuck, and her children, Trent, Mallory, and Cassidy. Family time is the best time, and is often spent on a golf course, a volleyball court, or spending the day boating at the beach.

Carlie Einerson Bio:

Carlie Einarson is a lead practice coach who has a passion for helping others succeed in the dental field. She loves helping to create a stable foundation for practices so both professionals and patients have a great experience every time they walk in the door!

Carlie graduated from Utah College of Dental Hygiene. She has ten years of experience in the dental field, including clinical dental hygiene, front office, and leading teams.

In her free time, she enjoys spending quality time with loved ones, traveling, skiing, playing volleyball, and golfing.