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I want your help.

I am writing a new book for young dentists.  The book’s theme is creating a long , successful and rewarding life in dentistry.

For some this may be self-evident.  It depends on what stage of career you are in.

For others it is very difficult.  And you don’t have to be a dentist to appreciate the question I am about to ask.  The question actually raises more questions as to where we are today in terms of health care, the economy and our work.

I am biased on the side of long, healthy, happy careers—maybe what used to be called The American Dream.

 

So here is my premise:

I am producing a remake of the classic Dustin Hoffman film, The Graduate.  The scene at the pool where Mr. McGuire tells young Ben, “One word, plastics.”  It’s a classic line.

Now remember, the movie first came out in 1969…times were much different then…and in my movie Ben just graduated from dental school. (If you are a physician…make believe he’s graduating from medical school).

You don’t have to be a health professional to answer…it’s more about our culture.

Here’s where I need your help—

What one piece of advice would you give young Ben as he entered into the workforce, as a dentist in 2014.  By the way—dental school left him with $375,000 in debt.

Be brief—and one caveat —you can’t advise him to stay away from Mrs. Robinson.

Don’t go there!

Leave your comments below—if they are good I will include them in the book and give you credit.

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2008 seems like an eternity ago.  That is the official start of what we call the Great Recession.

My practice didn’t feel the effects for a few years, then slowly things began to deteriorate.  I adjusted like so many dentists who were effected.  I heard that it wasn’t as bad in the central part of the country…but here in New Jersey, where the per capita number of dentists is very high, and real estate took a dive...it was pretty bad.

The good news is that everyone survives.

Financially I did what needed to be done.  I came to find out that most dentists were doing similar things like watching expenses and streamlining hours.  I was lucky because I am at a stage in my career that I could handle the losses which averaged to about 30%.

It’s just numbers.  Most dentists who practiced in the eighties and nineties, what we called the Golden Age, were used to earning a lot more,

Just numbers.

The numbers always will work out.

More important, for me anyway, was my basic model of practice.  I developed at practice based on strong relationships and comprehensive care.  I wrote a book about it.

In that book I wrote about the external forces that effect the way we practice like advertising and insurance.  Now there were more forces like the Internet, social media and that recession.

There were many times I considered throwing in the towel…maybe I could advertise, or maybe I could sign on with insurance companies.

I can’t tell you how torturous these feelings became…and I know many dentists in the same predicament who considered those alternatives.

I would rather fight than switch.

Some did….I didn’t, and I am so glad I held out…here’s why.

It took years to develop my professional and business philosophy.  Years of hard work.  Years of failure.  Years of torment.

When I finally honed it into a working model, not only did it allow me to earn a good living but more importantly it gave me peace of mind.  I was finally happy in dentistry.

I would never give that up…but honestly there was a lot of pressure.  There are lots of bullies out there.  I don’t have to tell you who they are.

Lately I have begun to see a reversal of fortune.  I didn’t want to write about it before I truly believed that it was real…not just a blip on the radar.

My new patient numbers are going up.  Resistance to treatment is going down.  Patients are coming to me and leaving their networks.

Is this a trend?  Are you seeing it too?

It’s amazing that people see and expect great service when it comes to buying a pair of shoes online, but they have been putting up with such poor health care services for so long.

And it seems to be getting worse. 

No matter what the bullies tell you, they don’t have the answers for the quality and service problems in health care.  For years we had a system that worked.  It wasn’t perfect but it worked…the bullies in Washington and in Big Business (insurance) have been pushing the public around for years – maybe it’s time that the public is fighting back…at least I am beginning to see signs.

In the past month or two I also noticed many patients coming in who are upset, even angry with their dentist.  Many of them didn’t even know their dentist’s name (a pet peeve of mine).

I won’t go over the specific issues that these people were upset with…but from the perspective of both technical errors and just plain poor service…they knew they could get better.

Is this the backlash we were told would come when those practices that sold out or the DMOs, just couldn’t provide the same level of service that the committed caring dentists were willing to provide.  Were they beginning to see the value—en masse?

Let’s hope—our health and the health of our patients depend on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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