With the dawn of a new decade comes the opportunity to look at some resolutions for the next 10 years.
Live in the present
Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.
As William Shakespeare said, "What is past is prologue." We can't change what happened to us during the last year or the last decade, but we can improve our well-being if we focus on the here and now.
Be mindful of what is happening to you now and appreciate (or try to find something to appreciate) every day. It is so beneficial to find a few good things that happen each day rather than dwell on the bad, the sad, and the uncontrollable. As dental practitioners, we occasionally try to overguess, second-guess, or strive for unachievable perfection. Do the best you can, and if you can't, refer. There are amazing specialists out there who will help with patient treatment that is beyond our capabilities (which, truly, is a good thing).
Accept that not everyone will be your patient
Just as not everyone will be your friend (and nor do you want them to be), not everyone who walks in the door may be the ideal patient for you and your practice. We are all aware of the standard of care. Some patients may not "fit" into the standard of care and want to dictate their treatment. Others may not match with your personality and style.
It is awesome that people seek dental care, but, on occasion, some patients may be the square peg in your practice's round hole. It is not worth fighting with patients to make them agree with your treatment, scheduling parameters, or team members. The amount of anguish and turmoil created will offset the production value. Remember that a happy team is a productive team!
Treat your entire team (even if you are an associate) with utmost respect and care
Your dental team members are the most important people in your lives, next to your family and trusted friends. They will take cues from you and make your life easier. They will support you. They will diffuse situations you may never know existed. If you treat everyone with respect and consideration, it will be reflected back on you tenfold.
Patients see how you treat your team. Say "thank you" numerous times during the day. Everyone notices. Walk into your office with a smile and continue to lead your practice on a positive note.
Think about next steps
You have created a certain philosophy of practice. If you are an associate, you may have to fit into the practice's philosophy and business protocol, but that does not mean you can't have your own creative spin on presentations and care. Remember, one of the most important caveats of dental practice is that it is all about the relationship.
Know you always have a choice. Whether you decide to stay with one practice, to build another one, to take a break, to retire, to join a group, to make your own group, to start a family, or to take care of aging parents, these are all potential choices.
There may be starts and stops during the next decade. Always have a plan. Think about what is best for you and how you would navigate a change in circumstance.
Take care of you
We have only one body. Ergonomics is not a "tagline" or someone else's problem. It is everyone's concern. Anything can happen to your body in a moment that will change your practice for years to come. Take time for your own physical wellness: Schedule medical (and dental) appointments. Be kind to your body, focus on fitness and make time after each patient to stretch out your wrist, hands, shoulders, and neck. Think about using that mirror for indirect vision rather than inconveniencing the patient by having them turn one way or another. After all, who cares for the caregiver when the caregiver is incapable of care?
Finally, be grateful
Healthcare has experienced many changes over the past decade, and it will continue to change throughout the next one. Dentistry is an integral part of patient wellness. We are in an incredible profession. People will always have dental needs. If they truly took care of their teeth as we have instructed, we would be out of business. The fact that there are always good folks out there seeking our services is definitely something to be grateful for in the new decade.
Have an amazing new year!
Sheri B. Doniger, DDS, practices clinical dentistry in Lincolnwood, IL. Her book, Practical Practice Solutions in Dentistry, is available on amazon.com. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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