Where Dr Chris works: The Orthodontic and Pediatric Department entrance of the Advanced American Dental Center in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us." -- Joseph Campbell.
Michael E. Gerber's "The E-Myth Dentist" is an excellent book on the business of dentistry .
Though she prides herself as being a Texas girl, Dr. Chris Baker practices in the Khalidiya neighborhood of Abu Dhabi, UAE.
“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” ~ Zig Ziglar
Before you go further, read that quote from Zig Ziglar a couple of more times. That’s a WOW!
The question is, what do you want? That’s the “rub”. Work to figure out what you do want. So often we hold life in our hands like water, squeezing tightly to hold onto the water, and life trickles away.
“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell
We need to figure out who we are, what we are here to do, to create, to become, what we truly want.
So just what DO we want, anyway?
I would venture a guess:
You want to Be Loved.
Nurture relationships with patients and their parents. These are the people who make your practice possible. Fall in love with them.
Creating love between your company (you and your staff) and those you serve will be absolutely priceless. You’ll go home amazed every night to think how much you are enjoying serving and loving everyone.
And, the funny part is that a love and caring-focused culture in a practice is a rarity and most fail in this department. Yet this is a great opportunity - to love and be loved by those in your practice.
“Do what you do so well that they will want to [experience] it again and bring their friends.” ~ Walt Disney
What else do you want? You want to enjoy every minute of your life.
While that seems obvious, few of us do this. We function by rote, and habitually. As Michael E. Gerber says, practice “Internal awareness and external intention.” Do what you are doing intentionally. It’s the Ram Dass thing, “Be here now.” Be present this moment. Let the fear float away like clouds.
“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don't wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it's at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.” ~ Earl Nightingale
Any other wants? You want to have a successful business. It’s what you do for a living and to support your family.
In our orthodontic and dental practices we are the doctor, the manager, the business owner, the entrepreneur. These are big roles that often feel overwhelming and complex. We go into these roles assuming that because we know how to provide orthodontic or dental care, we can do it all. We have a huge job!
We have a plan - or perhaps we should say a “wish list,” of what we assume the practice will accomplish.
As my recent blogs have discussed, our business plan, our dream, vision, purpose and mission need to be systematized so the system accomplishes what it should.
All these wants - and more - are dependent on YOU. You are the key. But - what to do?
Here are some benchmarks to help:
Benchmark 1. WRITE down what you want. Sit down in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed, with no phone, no computer, no TV, or other media. Take your pad of paper and pen.
Start with “want to be loved, enjoy every minute of my life, and have a successful business,” which are true for all of us.
Then think about you. Who are you? What did you come here to do, be, create, experience? Write it all down.
Plan to refer to the list as you go through your next week or two, and edit as needed, or just review and remember what YOU want.
Benchmark 2. Begin developing your relationships with the patients and parents in an even more meaningful way. Be real, be honest, be genuine. Genuinely interact. Use their name, as you greet and talk to them. Their name is the sweetest word in their world!
Show them - and TELL them - you are HONORED to evaluate and treat them. The great orthodontist Dr. Walter A. Doyle often reminded his students, "They are not YOUR patients; You are THEIR doctor. "
Listen. For the moments you are with each patient, focus on that person (or the parent with them.) Stay focused, and do not let your mind wander onto the trillions of other things in your day.
Develop ways to help the patient “own” their dental situation. It’s easy for us as giving, approval-addicted dentists, to let the patient “give” their dental needs to us. The reality is that their needs are theirs. We can offer treatments to help.
When the patient has not worn retainers adequately, TELL them, and NO, you should not make new ones for free.
When acidic plaque finally manages to start new decay, NO, you should not restore for free.
When the 12 year molar fractures due to apparent clenching, grinding, or just plain occlusal forces, even though it had a restoration before, NO, you should not take care of it for free.
But - remember - HOW you say it is everything. Loving, gentle explanation of what has happened in their mouth, with their teeth, without any judgement or finger-pointing is critical. Keep it informational.
Here's an example of how you can explain a diagnosis to a patient:
“Our human bodies are a tough place for teeth to ‘live.’ There are amazing pressures from biting, chewing, clenching. Teeth will always move and change from these pressures for our whole life. BUT - when you’ve had braces, you want the teeth to stay in the beautiful, functional position they’ve been put. So, the wear of your retainers is so very important. Your teeth need more wear than they’ve been getting. 7 out of 7 nights, (or 24/7, or whatever they need.)"
Communication and information is crucial. Diagnose thoroughly. Tell the patient what is going on. Otherwise, how can they know? Write scripts so your staff can communicate how the human body varies, is vulnerable, and will ALWAYS, ALWAYS change over time.
Say please and thank you frequently. Graciousness and kindness are what they want to experience as well as what you want to experience. You give it and watch it come back to you!
There's lots to think about and incorporate:
Time to get started! Go for it!
Start today, and let me know how it’s going.
Dr Chris Baker
Dr. Chris Baker is Past President of the American Orthodontic Society, a pediatric dentist and teacher of orthodontics, An author, dental practice consultant, mentor, and a current or former faculty member of three U.S. dental schools, Dr Chris practices and blogs in beautiful Abu Dhabi, UAE, and glorious Texas, USA.
Text and images
© 2019 Dr Chris Baker