This was a nice question from a patient this week. With the holidays past us, we're now into a new year, and we reflect on resolutions for the upcoming year.
With the new year upon us, we all have goals and resolutions. Here are mine for my practice in 2017.
1. Say thank you more
Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.
I resolve to say thank you to my team more than ever. Our teams are integral elements in our practice. Yes, we need sterile instruments and functioning equipment, but, personally, I would not be able perform the same level of dentistry without my team.
I am one to thank my team on a routine basis, at all times during the day. It may not be possible to thank them more, but I will try. I believe it is important to show patients how much we respect and appreciate our team members. Although our practice may not be as busy as it was 15 years ago, we still are grateful to have dedicated team members who understand the value of outstanding dental care.
2. Worry less
I resolve to worry less about being busy. This is a basic extension of the theory "You can only control the controllables in your life." We can't change the weather, and we can't drag people into our offices, no matter how much we try.
Remember those potential new patients you saw at the gym/post office/restaurant/friend's house? They were in desperate need of a dentist. They asked you questions about dental benefits, procedures, dental fear, and a plethora of other things, and then promised they would call your office. Well, they may not have called. We can't control these people who have a fear of dentists or a fear of the cost of dentistry. Eventually, they will show up somewhere, hopefully not for a painful extraction.
I resolve to be more appreciative of the patients we have. Someone once said, "Your best patients are from your best patients." I have always practiced under that wisdom: turning patients into star referrers.
We appreciate patients every day for the individuality they bring to our offices -- from their personalities to their dentistry, everyone is different. This is what makes practicing dentistry so special. Appreciating our patients to the highest level and showing them quality dental care in a comfortable surroundings will make for a happy patient who is more likely to refer to our practices.
“Often we get so focused on the dentistry at hand that we forget to ask our patients for referrals.”
4. Asking every patient
I resolve to ask every patient to tell his or her family, friends, and co-workers about our practice. Often, we get so focused on the dentistry at hand that we forget to ask our patients for referrals. It is important that we ask our patients, because some of them believe that our practices may be closed to new patients. It is our responsibility to personally invite patients to refer others. This is truly a whole team role, but it comes across better if expressed by the dentist.
5. Social media
I resolve to get more active on my practice social media sites. Yes, it is intimidating to ask patients for a referral, but it does drive people to visit your site and potentially make an appointment. Social proof is so important these days. Everyone wants to "see" the dentist first. Although this may be one of those resolutions like "I will drink more water," I promise I will do a little more each month to seek out "likes" and reviews.
Looking forward to 2017, I began to think about what I was most grateful for, besides my beautiful family. I am grateful for being able to practice in this amazing healthcare profession that is experiencing new technology at a rapid pace. I am grateful for each patient experience, which brings me new knowledge and understanding. I am grateful for the ability to write this column and have an audience who appreciates my innuendoes and storytelling. I wish all of you a healthy, peaceful, and prosperous 2017. May all your dental dreams come true.
Sheri B. Doniger, DDS, practices clinical dentistry in Lincolnwood, IL. She is the immediate past president of the American Association of Women Dentists. She has served as an educator in several dental and dental hygiene programs, has been a consultant for a major dental benefits company, and has written for several dental publications. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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