Can You Write Me an Excuse Letter for School?

The Quick Letters feature makes it easy to create customized excuse notes for patients to take back to school or work.

When I worked in a dental practice, we had a middle school across the street from our office, and students would walk over from school for their dental appointments. Since these kids were usually not with their parents, we would write them a note to take back to school so they could receive an excused absence. For a long time our office would photocopy the excuse notes and write the name and date of the appointment on the note. Then I got smart . . . I added a new Quick Letter so all we had to do was select the appointment, open Quick Letters, select the excuse note, and click Print. My team thought this was the coolest thing ever! I’ll show you how to set this up in Dentrix.

From the Office Manager’s Maintenance menu, point to Practice Setup, and then click Preferences. Click the Paths tab, and then click Open Folder next to Letter Template Path. This is the location where you need to save your new letter so the Quick Letters feature can find it. If you look through this list of letters, you will find a document called dtxlm99.doc. Doubleclick it to open it in Microsoft Word. This document contains all the merge fields that are available to create a new letter.

Now let’s create your letter. Since you already have Microsoft Word open, from the File menu, click New, and then double-click New Document to open a blank page where you will type your letter. Your excuse note doesn’t have to be long; it can be as short and simple as this: “Please excuse «FName» «LName» from school/work. «FName» had a scheduled dental appointment on «Appt_Date» with Amazing Smiles Dental. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to call.”

To insert the merge codes, such as «FName» and «LName», you can copy and paste them from the dtxlm99.doc letter that you opened. But if you’re using Microsoft Word 2007 or later, there’s another, perhaps easier way. In Microsoft Word, click the Mailings tab. From the ribbon toolbar, click the Letter Merge Fields button. The Dentrix Letter Merge Fields task pane appears. From the Letter Merge Fields list, expand a category, such as Patient or Appointment. A list of letter merge fields appears.

Select a letter merge field from the Letter Merge Fields toolbar, and click Insert Field. There are two different appointment dates you can use: Next Appointment Date (under Appointment) pulls today’s appointment date if it has not been set complete; Last Visit Date (under Patient) pulls today’s appointment date if it has been set complete. You need to select the correct merge field depending on whether you print excuse notes before or after appointments are set complete.

When you are ready to save your letter, make sure you save it in the Letter Template Path you noted earlier. Because the letter name cannot have more than seven characters, you may want to name it “excuse”. Look at the Save as type field and make a mental note of whether you are saving the file using a .doc or .docx file format.

From one of the Dentrix modules where you have a patient selected, click Quick Letters on the toolbar to open the Quick Letters dialog box. Click New. In the Letter Name field, type a description of this letter, such as “Excuse Letter”. In the Merge Letter Template field, type the letter filename, such as “excuse.docx”.

Make sure you specify a file extension for the correct file type you used when saving the template: either .doc or .docx. Click OK. With the Excuse Letter selected, click Build/View to make sure Quick Letters can find the letter and merge your patient data. You are now ready to use your template to create a quick excuse note for any patient.


Learn More

To learn more about Quick Letters, see the “Quick Letters overview” topic in the Dentrix Help.

For more tips designed for Dentrix Office Managers, subscribe to the Dentrix Office Manager blog at thedentrixofficemanager.blogspot.com.


By Dayna Johnson, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Dayna Johnson, founder and principal consultant of Rae Dental Management, helps dental offices improve patient care, increase collections, and reduce staff headaches by implementing efficient management systems. With 20 years of experience in the business and technical side of dental offices, Dayna’s passion for efficient systems is grounded in both personal understanding and professional expertise. Dayna can be reached at dayna@ raedentalmanagement.com or visit her website at www.raedentalmanagement.com.

Originally published in Dentrix Magazine, Spring 2015