The New Zealand Dental Services
Only the bigger hospitals had a room set aside as an office. In the smaller ones all the clerical work was done in the surgery and, while admitting some convenience in this arrangement because of the smallness of the staff, it would appear that a separate office, not necessarily large but close to the waiting room, is more efficient and easier to run. Clerical duties such as calling up and interviewing patients, filing records, writing reports, telephoning and typewriting should not be allowed to interfere with the work of the dental officer in the surgery. Little emphasis was put on providing efficient office equipment, probably because in most cases not enough emphasis was placed on the business capability of those expected to carry out the work. Untrained people were expected to run the clerical side of the equipment of perhaps sixteen or seventeen dental practices working to full capacity. They had to see that every man in camp was called for treatment in time to be made dentally fit before leaving for overseas. They had to study the movements of men from unit to unit as laid down in routine orders. They had to keep a record of work to be done, work completed and stores needed and expended. They had to type reports and correspondence, see that the dental records for each patient were forwarded to the proper quarter at the correct time, as well as arranging all details for the unit such as pay, leave and clothing. When it is remembered that, except by a fortunate accident, none of them could use a typewriter, except later when girls were employed, and that in the early part of the war it was even difficult to get a typewriter, their work stands out page 101 as an example of willing service, often misdirected and needlessly prolonged. The result was that the Principal Dental Officer was continually submerged in a morass of clerical duties because there was no trained clerk to help him. There is a strong case not only for an office in every dental building but for trained clerical staff to run it.