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The Tao of Dentistry

The Martian – A Self-Help Movie?

October 27, 2015

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I am a sucker for self-help books. I am not into the Kardashians, Dancing With the Stars or Entertainment Tonight, but put a self-help book in front of me and I’ll devour it in a day or two.  I have read them all – under the hope of becoming a better person, improving my business or my favorite…setting and achieving goals.

I am not alone.  Self-help books moved from a niche position to being a cultural phenomenon in the late twentieth century.  It is estimated to be an $8 billion a year industry in the US alone.

A self-help book is one that is written with the intention to instruct its readers on solving personal problems. The books take their name from Self Help an 1859 best-seller by Samuel Smiles.

Some respected psychologists like Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi have argued that self-help books will clearly not help people to become thin, rich and well-adjusted; indeed they will probably have no effect whatsoever.

Worse, some have claimed self-help books are actually bad for us by promoting ‘false hope syndrome’.

And that is what brings me to America’s first self-help movie, The Martian, Matt Damon’s new blockbuster that is drawing massive attention and attendance.

For many it’s a thrilling story, but for me, the sucker for self-help, it was another guide to goal setting.

I mean if his goal was to get back to earth from Mars (that’s 50 million miles), then what the hell, my production goals are a joke.  Take a look at that photo of him—all smiles and thumbs up.  Talk about having a good attitude.

Without giving away the plot (duh), I will attempt to point out some of the many self-help principles Damon used to get back to earth…principles that have actually guided me through my own personal journey.

  1. Be a life-long learner.  Commit to knowing your work as they taught me at the Pankey Institute many years ago.  Damon’s character was a botanist.  Think how handy that knowledge could be when you are stranded on a planet without water.
  2. Be a goal setter and monitor your progress.  These two go together because just setting a goal without understanding your deadlines and progress is just a dream.  Our film’s astronaut knew exactly how many days he had to get back to earth and how much rations he needed to get there.  The story really takes off when they have to figure out every component of his rescue was necessary.  As an author I can tell you that writing a book is nothing compared to getting home from Mars – so reaching your monthly production goals—piece of cake.
  3. Fail Forward.  Look, no one bats .1000.  Murphy’s Law is always in play, besides, what kind of movie would this be if nothing ever went wrong.  The key is to pick yourself up and use the failure as a learning experience.  It’s a good thing Matt was familiar with Thomas Edison’s lessons learned from inventing the lightbulb.  After failing 10,000 times he told a reporter he learned 9,999 ways it didn’t work.
  4. Be Persistent. Overcome Resistance and Do the Work.  Those three points may look like three separate lessons but they are all related.  Everyday we face resistance.  Our tendency is to put things off.  Damon could not…he was in survival mode.  He had to act with a sense of urgency everyday.  To me this is life’s greatest lesson.  The clock is always ticking.  Our job is to continue to move the ball down the field.  Most of us (and I mean our patients as well) don’ understand that without forward continual motion we get stuck.  Sure there is resistance—our job is to overcome it.  Calvin Coolidge said it best:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

 

5. Have Fun.  Once again, as you can tell by the picture above, Damon continued to maintain a positive attitude throughout his mission.  Tough to do?  Sure, but attitude means everything.

6. Leave Your Legacy.  Once again, I won’t ruin the movie for you but understand that Damon had people on Earth that needed him back.  He becomes a mentor—a teacher—because in the end we are all here to pass the baton.

Enjoy the movie.  Hollywood has an agenda.  How else can we learn life lessons these days?  The Kardashians?

 

 

 

Related articles

How to Deliver Bad News

October 19, 2015

Filed under: Case Presentation,Communication — Tags: , , — Barry @ 2:34 PM

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As a practicing dentist for over forty years, if there is something I do regularly it’s deliver bad news.  As the GEICO ad tells us…“if you’re a doctor you deliver bad news…it’s what you do.”

Not a day goes by when I don’t have to tell someone that they have a cavity, periodontal disease or worse yet, how much it will cost them.  And it’s not just the dentistry: how about when a case comes back from the lab and the shade is off or worse, we need to take another impression.  In a dental practice the situations are endless.

It’s a rare moment when we get to say “Mrs. Jones…it’s a boy.”

This is not the fun part of a dentist’s job…and many dentists paradoxically try to avoid it.

Think about that for a second.

A longtime patient comes in for a routine cleaning and you discover early decay under a old long-span bridge.  It’s a bridge you made for her fifteen years ago.  She comes in regularly and she has not needed work in years.  You know she’s under the impression that as long as she flosses daily and comes in on a regular basis that she is immune to major problems.  Worse yet, she is recently divorced and approaching retirement.

Tense times…for everyone, unless of course you lack empathy.  That’s another problem, but if you truly want to master the art of delivering bad news better – then this may interest you.

Leadership and communication lie at the center of your success in dentistry.  Present your case in a positive manner and you will get more acceptance, less complaints and most importantly better health for everyone.  In the past I have written blog posts about the charismatic dentist and empathy…delivering bad news better can go a long way to improving your charisma scores.

In a new book, Broadcasting Happiness, The Science of Igniting and Sustaining Positive Change, author Michelle Gielan offers her Four Cs on how to deliver bad news.

If you practice the Four Cs I am sure your dental practice will become more positive in every way and you will never complain about “people” again.

Let’s take a look at the Four Cs in dental practice:

  1. Create Social Capital.  A buzzword being used these days in business and sports, is culture.  But what exactly does that mean?  Dental practices need to build cultures of trust.  Covey, years ago referred to an emotional bank account.  Social capital refers to the resources that we have available to us based on trust and the willingness of practice to support our actions.  For patients of record this trust is built up over the years.  For new patients it is built through the examination process, and how the practice welcomes patients in.  Other resources include our ability to communicate, educate and motivate through listening and clear expression of thoughts and ideas.
  2. Give Context.  How you frame your conversation means everything.  If we frame our treatment in negativity…pain, cost and inconvenience, our acceptance will go down.  Just this morning I entered my hygiene room and my patient sensed my presence and said, “Uh Oh!”  She was joking, but let’s be honest most patients frame their dental visits negatively.  One way to provide context is to use what I call a “reason why philosophy.”  It takes a bit longer but I usually give a thorough explanation about why I need to do dentistry.  Not only what needs to be done but why it needs to be done.  This takes a bit of skill. but it can be learned.  Many dental practices use what author Gielan calls a Band-Aid mentality in delivering bad news- they just rip it off fast so it won’t hurt as much.  I hate when that happens to me…the reason why philosophy builds trust.  This comes up more often than we might think.  Even in the case of a patient who repeatedly refuses x-rays…just saying “because I said so,”  doesn’t inspire trust.  Taking the time to give a well thought explanation goes a long way.
  3. Express Compassion.  One of the strangest things for me to understand is noticing how so many of my dentist friends feel when they are on the receiving side of bad news.  And I mean any bad news.  They especially love to complain about the cost of things these days, yet they have no problem dispensing the bad news.  It’s human nature to not take bad news well.  Just knowing that means we have to step back and show empathy…it’s appreciated.  Dentistry is expensive these days.  If you’re reading this and getting angry because your fees are justified, I get it.  You know who doesn’t get it?  Most patients, so show compassion.  Talk about it.  And it gets worse when it’s your work that fails.  According to Michelle Gielan, compassion not only makes moral sense, it makes business sense. 
  4. Stay Committed.  Earlier I said that delivering bad news was an aspect of leadership and communication.  The leader’s commitment is to the patient and their well being.  Leaders deliver long term value and in order to do that we must remain committed.  In the end delivering bad news starts with being human.  If we remind our patients of what John Lennon once said, “Everything will be okay in the end.  If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

So take heart, if delivering bad news gets you down, use these 4 Cs to change the way you look at things—because “if you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Voice From the Grave

September 30, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barry @ 11:49 AM

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It has been two weeks since the second Republican debate was televised to the American public.  I found it ironic that the debate was held at The Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.  The backdrop for the event was Reagan’s presidential plane, acting as a constant reminder of the deceased ex-president.

America learned many things from the debate…but this blog is about dentistry and life, so I will leave that discussion to those who choose to argue about the political issues.  I want to go beyond the issues to the candidates and how they choose (or don’t choose) to get their message across…because we all have a message to get across, and our success depends on how we do it.

The setting was ironic because Ronald Reagan was a master of leadership and communication.  He was the Great Communicator.

The irony reared its ugly head throughout the evening as many of the candidates acknowledged Reagan’s ability and ranted how our country lacked leadership…and then proceeded to insult each other and carry on as if it were a street fight.

I recalled something someone once told me, “Never argue with a moron, because from a distance, you can’t tell who is the moron.”

The irony was that the issues got lost in their expression.  That is still holding true two weeks later.

How we say something is more important than what we say.

Maybe that is the lesson from the grave.  Communication is the gateway to better leadership.

During the debate I tried to see through the issues and concentrate on how each candidate chose to get their message across.  Who could deny the haughtiness of Trump, the contentiousness of Fiorna, the humility of Carson or the storytelling ability of Rubio?

My own affinities toward or against these styles was irrelevant especially during the debate while my emotions interfered with what was really going on.

All the while Reagan’s image watched over…The Great Communicator.

It has been two weeks since the debate and I find it interesting how the polls have moved.  Trump is trending downward while Carson and Rubio upward.

And Ronald Reagan is smiling from the grave.  Communication will out the real leader…it always does.

Even Jack Kennedy had a communication problem until Bobby, his campaign manager convinced him to school himself on how to relate to the public…how to become “everyman.”

But I digress…this is a dental blog.

Everyday we have our platform.  We have opportunities to impress our public everyday.  Our new patient examination is our platform.  We cannot abuse the platform.

We have abused the platform—some of us are Trump, some Carson, some Fiorina.  Watch these candidates, learn what creates followers and what doesn’t.

Mostly, understand that your message and how you express it will determine your success, and never, never, never abuse your platform.

 

 

 

 

 

The Indescribable Value of Autonomy

September 9, 2015

Filed under: ARTICLES,Happiness — Tags: , , — Barry @ 9:10 AM

 

 

 

For old timers like me this film clip is one of Hollywood’s most iconic ever.  Go ahead and watch…and if you’re too young not to remember this scene from Nicholson’s Five Easy Pieces…enjoy.

The scene is Jack Nicholson at his best.  It illustrates why he has so many fans — he is the renegade in all of us.  He is truth, justice and the American way.

Oh if we all could just behave like that when we are being shit on.

Five Easy Pieces was made in 1970.  Yet watching this clip tells me things haven’t improved much…and maybe in the world of health professionals has gotten worse.

Most dentists go to school to be free from micromanagement.  We want to be masters of our own destiny.  But that is not happening today.

Autonomy is the word I like to use.

Another word might be discretionary, or being allowed to use one’s own judgement.  That’s probably the reason I never accepted dental insurance—it was the Jack Nicholson in me.

I always had a difficult time writing letters to “beg” for approval—the equivalence of “holding the chicken salad.”

A few years ago I was asked to be on a panel for the Huffington Post (See the blog post Dentistry Looked Bad – May 2013).  On the panel was two patients, an insurance company fraud specialist and myself.

What a joke!  The fraud inspector said it all.  Probably like the waitress in the film clip, there was such a lack of trust that it is hard to do a good job.  That’s where we have come over the last forty five years.

No one likes to be surveiled.  No one wants someone looking over their shoulder.
We want the freedom to do our jobs to the best our our abilities…that’s how we build our self-worth.  Through our work.

And I am not just writing about doctors and dentists.  We need to trust our employees enough to do the right thing.

Take a look at Jack’s reaction.  How often do we feel like that when speaking with an uncooperative service provider?  How does it feel?

What’s worse though is the stifling effect it has on the provider.  It can destroy trust in the entire system.  Whether it’s getting something as simple as two pieces of toast or getting your cable turned on in time for this week’s football game—we need people to have the freedom to use their judgement and behave with a sense of autonomy.

Dentists, as well as doctors are feeling this more and more.  The ideology of insurance companies and now corporate dentistry, is putting constraints on health professionals in order to become more efficient and more profitable…at the cost of losing autonomy.

When autonomy is gone…so is passion.  It’s just a job..and that’s not why we went to school.

 

 

 

Dental Yoga

August 10, 2015

Filed under: Technical dentistry — Barry @ 12:48 PM

 

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Can a dentist be a yogi?

I practice hot yoga three days per week.  I have reaped the rewards.  The word “yoga” means “to join” or “to yoke.”  What gets joined is the body, mind and the spirit.  First comes the body, then the mind, and then the spirit.

Physical, mental and emotional benefits.  Harmony!  Balance!

When the owner of my hot yoga studio, a yogini, came to see me, she was in acute pain.

She had been reluctant to see a dentist for years because she found it difficult to keep her mouth open for cleanings or x-rays.

But pain is the greatest motivator, and she could no longer avoid the inevitable.  She was skeptical, but when I explained that the jaw followed the same principles of muscle physiology that governs the body, she agreed to having an occlusal splint made.

The occlusal splint, as most dentists know, quiets the major muscles of the face – like a perfectly executed Yoga posture.

Jess wore the splint.

When I showed up for my next Yoga class, she greeted me at the entrance with a huge smile on her face.  She demonstrated that she was able to freely move her jaw painlessly, in all directions.

I pride myself in reading people’s emotions.  That’s a skill dentists get good at over time.

I can read pain, I can read fear and I can read frustration.  That is how Jess presented that first day.

On this day, I was reading pure joy...as if she were being let out of prison.  As a matter of fact during our class she admitted to always feeling reluctant about going to the dentist because of the jaw pain.

I told her many people suffer from facial pain and headaches due to TMJ dysfunction – and even those who don’t have the acute symptoms, get relief of subclinical symptoms they never knew they had.

Just like Yoga.

Mild constant chronic pain can effect us mentally and emotionally.  We tend to adapt to not feeling well.  Since I began doing Yoga I have become pain free, I have more energy, and yes I am happier—the union of the body, mind and spirit.

People walk around with subclinical pain.  They accept it as being normal and make life choices based on not feeling well.  It’s amazing how pain relief can affect the mind.

So many people walk around with chronic pain, and accept it as part of their life.

Taking care of the body goes way beyond the cosmetic…it’s life changing in many ways.

With all of the emphasis these days on cosmetic dentistry…I still feel better about getting a yogini back to the mats than doing a big cosmetic case.

 

 

 

 

Cecil and the “American Dentist”

August 3, 2015

Filed under: Ethics — Tags: , , , — Barry @ 11:05 AM

 

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Well, I’ve just about had my fill of Cecil the lion stories,  but I still feel obligated to write about my take on this tale.  Like most stories these days, this one too will soon be forgotten because, as someone once said about Americans,…we have short memories.

So, in the spirit of Jimmy Breslin, who once won a Pulitzer for journalism by walking away from JFK’s funeral to interview the man who was digging Kennedy’s grave…I will attempt to give you my spin on Cecil and the “American Dentist.”

First, I want to say that I think what the “American Dentist” did was despicable.  I have been breeding dogs for twenty years.  I have been involved with boxer rescue and placed numerous homeless dogs.  I never forgave Michael Vick…and never will.  Killing or hurting defenseless animals is wrong…aggression is wrong.  I don’t even like aggressive drivers.

So what bothers me about the Cecil story?

In 2005 our “American Dentist” lost a sexual harassment case for $127,500 that also carried a penalty of him having to undergo ethics training.  It seems that his ex-employee Tammy Brevik, 43, accused the married clinician of subjecting her to unwanted ‘verbal comments and physical conduct’ involving her ‘breasts, buttocks, and genitalia’ in the 2005 complaint.

But crowds didn’t gather around his office back then…trying to put him out of business.  No!  His patients allowed him to go back to work, I guess, because everyone deserves a second chance…just like after Vick spent time in jail we watched him play football, for which he was  handsomely paid.  We forgive and forget.

Yes…as unbelievable as it sounds we will forget about Tom Brady and the deflated balls…and Ray Rice…and Donald Trump’s aggression toward John McCain.  Tune in Thursday for the Republican debates if you want to see aggressive behavior.

Maybe it will take Cecil—the so-called domesticated lion to teach America a lesson...but I don’t think so.

I mean placing Cecil’s image on the Empire State Building —stop it!

The human brain is driven by testosterone.  We depend on our executive brain to control our behavior…and sorry to say, for most people it just doesn’t work.  Aggressive behavior is a double-edged sword.  We are taught in business to create BHAGs…Big Hairy Audacious Goals.  Our “American Dentist” did just that.  Big game hunting has been around for thousands of years…at one time it was a matter of survival—and that made it okay.

People say the same thing about Wall Street, Politics and the NFL.

And boy, do the crowds love a hanging.  Is testosterone at work when the crowds come out to the gallows to see justice?  Is it okay to put our “American Dentist” out of business?

Is that justice?  And why did the public give him a pass on the sexual harassment?  If he were a pedodontist that wouldn’t have happened…I would hope.

But things will be okay now…because we have Cecil.

I am sure that Disney, the people who brought us the sweet little mouse with the squeaky voice, will adopt Cecil as the symbol of compassion and empathy.

The problem my friends is aggression and human nature…my advice…the same as the Dalai Lamas’s:  Practice compassion at  every level and the world will be a better place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Character Matters

July 27, 2015

Filed under: Leadership — Tags: , , , — Barry @ 11:15 AM

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I guess most people know who said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”  For those who don’t, the answer is Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, arguably one of America’s greatest presidents.

There have been a few in our history…Abe Lincoln comes to mind.

Teddy’s renowned quotation, succinctly says more about character than most famous sayings.

And watching Donald Trump lately, confirms why he will never succeed in becoming president…as a matter of fact I wonder how he ever succeeded at anything…without a little help from his friends.

Character matters.  From Presidents to paperhangers.

Positive psychologists know this.  Martin Seligman PhD, the dean of positive psychology has written extensively on the meaning of virtues and character strengths in developing the “good life.”

His work classifies 6 core virtues into 24 character strengths.  Working with strengths can be a key to a successful life as well as becoming a great leader at any level.

The 6 virtues are:

  1. Wisdom and Knowledge
  2. Courage
  3. Humanity
  4. Transcendence
  5. Temeperance
  6. Justice

When I look at “The Donald” I see a man who is way out of balance.  But then again, no one is perfect.

I don’t think he represents what Teddy meant by carrying a big stick.  It was a metaphor for “presence.”  Polls show that the American people are dissatisfied with our “presence” in the world —not that we should destroy everything in our path.  This isn’t the real estate business.

On the other hand, I think speaking softly says it all.  I hear wisdom, courage, humanity and justice in the quote, don’t you?

One of the reasons I consider myself a moderate is that I believe in the balance.  I learned this along time ago when I first went to the Pankey Institute.

These ideas are not new.  L.D. Pankey studied Aristotle.  The Greek spoke the same language of virtues that Seligman is bringing to life currently.

Sure I learned technical dentistry at the Pankey Institute, but I also learned the principles of being a good professional, which transferred to a “good life.”

The lesson for everyone (Presidents to Paperhangers) is that character matters.

We have problems in this country.  Many of the problems relate to a shift from a moral world to a materialistic world.  In the wake we lost character.

I am beginning to see a trend back to morality with books like David Brooks’ bestseller, The Road to Character.  

Essentially this post is about leadership.  We need leadership at every level.  From the White House to your practice to your house.

When I look back at my own life and practice I see it was the moral lessons that made all the difference.

When I go to vote I will be looking for character strengths and virtues…hopefully everyone else will as well….Goodbye Donald!

 

 

It’s All Good

July 20, 2015

Filed under: Happiness — Tags: , , , — Barry @ 10:28 AM

 

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As I have mentioned in this blog many times, I am a hot yoga enthusiast.  I mostly do it as a form of exercise, a very demanding form of exercise.  Yoga, they say, has many additional benefits, from the medical to the metaphysical.  I really love to sweat.

Occasionally, one might hear something in a Yoga class that can change the way you look at the world.  Just last week my teacher, Leo, said something that made a big difference.

First, let me tell you about Leo.  He’s a professional Bikram teacher, and amateur philosopher.  People flock to his classes for the workout, the philosophy and the humor.  Leo always has a smile on his face…he’s never in a bad mood.

In Philadelphia we have a sports radio broadcaster who when asked how he is doing, always answers, “Never had a bad day in my life.”  Then he goes on complaining, criticizing and condemning just about everyone in town…including his call ins.

But that’s not Leo.  He never complains, condemns or criticizes anything or anyone.  He truly understands Dale Carnegie’s first rule of how to win friends and influence people.

Whenever I meet someone who maintains a genuine positive attitude I am in awe.  I just completed my next book, Short Guide to a Long Career.  I will be distributing it for free at summer’s end.  If you are on my mailing list (See the ADL list on the right >>>), you will get your copy as soon as it’s ready.

In the book I write about what it takes to have a long sustainable career in dentistry.  Most dentists know that is not something to take for granted.  I write about well-being and happiness.  Sustainable happiness.

The positive psychologists tell us that well-being is determined by 5 nutriments:

  1. Positive Emotions
  2. Engaging Work
  3. Positive Relationships
  4. Meaningful Work
  5. Achievement

The first one…positive emotions is a tough one…especially in such an emotional profession like dentistry.  Staying positive has always been my biggest challenge.  I suppose it’s a big challenge for other dentists too…with all of the negative complaining, criticizing and condemning I read online these days.

Let me return to Leo…how does he do it?

During our last class I listened as he taught the students.  He corrected people and as he noticed frustration—he just said, almost as an automatic response – “It’s all good.”

Then it hit me—he created a thought habit—“It’s all good.”

And it is!

So I have been practicing.  I slow down and think.  No matter what happens—I choose my response…and it’s all good.

It has a great calming effect.  Days go by much better…I have more energy.  Negative energy can suck the life right out of you.

Norman Vincent Peale was right—there is power in a positive mental attitude.  The problem is how to maintain it…

Try it…it can’t hurt…It’s all good.

 

 

 

 

The Most Annoying Man in the World

July 13, 2015

Filed under: Business of Dentistry,Self-development,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Barry @ 12:51 PM

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Yes…that would be me.  Well I used to be a lot worse.  You see I am a devotee of hot Yoga.  I have been practicing at least three days each week for five years and I have reaped the rewards.

I want other people to take advantage of the same health benefits I have enjoyed.  So I push it.  Occasionally someone takes me up on it, but most of the time I hear reasons why they will pass:

“I’m not flexible, I can’t take the heat, Ninety minutes in a hot room, are you kidding?, How much?

I was being nice when I called them “reasons.”  But in reality those reasons are nothing more than excuses.  People don’t like making excuses, so they give you what they think are very legitimate reasons for not doing something.

That’s why I think I could really be annoying.

At the end of the day it’s the people who go to the gym, go to Yoga or participate in any form of physical exercise on a regular basis, that truly value their health.

They have placed positive meaning on their health...and my pushing doesn’t do a thing to change that…hence, I annoy them.

You would think, as a dentist, I would know that.  After all, who listens to more excuses than a dentist?

“My dog is sick.  Something came up.  I just threw up.  My car won’t start.”

Doctors…you’ve heard them all, haven’t you?

Nothing but excuses – or reasons why they can’t make it in.  The real reason?  They haven’t prioritized dentistry.

Does that surprise you…that anyone can’t find the value or meaning in taking care of their teeth?

Oh, do I hear you saying that they have a high fear or they can’t afford it?

Reasons!

At the end of the day they don’t get their teeth fixed.  Now don’t get me wrong I am not hardhearted about these reasons, and I never get angry when I hear them.  Even after a cancellation.

You see, these reasons are just an indication that some good dialogue is necessary.  I used to get upset…even angry…and that’s when I really was the most annoying man in the world.

Our culture loves reasons.  How about the reasons why people don’t want x-rays?  How many have you heard?  Or, forgive me…the amalgam issue…or the one about the hard pretzel breaking their tooth?

We love stretching the correlation implies causation issue don’t we?  It sounds so good…but in the end, just more reasons to believe their particular truth.

I used to argue…to no avail…and be labeled, yes...the most annoying man in the world.

No more!

I don’t used bullshit reasons in my own life…and I don’t get angry when people choose to use reasons to justify their behavior.

Dentistry can get quite emotional.  Destructive emotions like anger, frustration, guilt and inadequacy can truly ruin a good relationship.  People used to avoid me in the supermarket if they missed their last check-up.

No more!

These days I am much more likable.  Much easier to get along with.  And a funny thing happened….

Gandhi was right…he advises to be the change you seek in the world.

And you will attract people who share the same values as you do…people who truly value their health.

Try it…it’s quite calming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Applying the Knowledge

July 6, 2015

Filed under: Business of Dentistry — Tags: , , , — Barry @ 10:28 AM

 

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Do you know where Cherokee Place is in New York City?  Don’t cheat by going to Google Maps.  Fifty years ago NYC cab drivers would sit around their favorite eatery, The Belmore Cafeteria on Park Avenue, and quiz each other on the little known streets in the Big Apple.

Cherokee Place is an alley between 77th and 78th streets between York Avenue and the East River.  The Belmore, by the way is long gone; it was a cab driver’s hangout made famous by Martin Scorsese in the movie Taxi Driver.  I know because I drove a cab while going to dental school.

My point is that cab drivers back then had to have a certain knowledge about the city’s geography.  That and a license to operate the cab, known as a medallion, were the only barriers to enter the field.  In London, cabdrivers have to take a test called “Appearances” to “Acquire the Knowledge” of over 25,000 places in that city.  That’s a barrier tho entry.

Today things have changed.

First there were 2 way radios, then gypsy cabs and those black cars would roam the streets, unlicensed, picking up passengers.  Today there is Uber and Google maps.  The barriers to enter the taxicab industry have all but broken down.  The prices for medallions are falling by the day.  All industries get disrupted…books, music and even healthcare.

In the cab industry guilds were formed to protect the independent drivers.  Taylor Swift recently spoke up about protecting artists.  In dentistry I wonder who or what protects the fee for service dentists who are seeing similar disruptions in dentistry.  And the forces are quite formidable.

Adam Smith one of the original framers of capitalism warned of “pirates” entering a marketplace for their own self-interests.  We have seen the age of dental insurance and now we beginning to see the age of the dental service organizations.  Corporate dentistry is moving quickly to become the predominant force in dentistry…as providers and educators.

Prominent practices owned by some of dentistry’s finest educators are being swallowed up by dental service organizations.  The smaller practices are being bought at discount prices and young dentists who have spent a fortune to become independent practitioners will soon have no choice but to work in corporate dentistry.

Who is protecting them?

Who is the voice of fee for service dentists?

Not the ADA.  Not dental schools.  Not the state licensing boards.

Really, they paid a heavy price to enter dentistry…in time and money.  Okay, I know that dentists will still be able to make a respectable income, but what about the ability to learn and grow through autonomy…doing the kind of dentistry they enjoy rather than selling out to corporate forces.

Really, what’s at stake isn’t money as much as it’s well- being, autonomy and independence—the real reasons for becoming a dentist.

Unlike driving a cab, dentistry is a complex job.  Today’s complete dentist must know more than “acquiring the knowledge.”  He must be able to “apply the knowledge.”  The application goes way beyond technical dentistry.  Today’s complete dentist must be expert in leadership, business and communication in addition to diagnosis, planning and treatment.  The dental service organizations will compete with economies of scale that the fee-for service dentist cannot match.

Cab drivers could not see Uber coming.  Dentists must learn how to become “Complete Dentists.”  The answer lies in the dental education system…training dentists to learn just how complex their job really is and applying that knowledge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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