Okay, a touch of sarcasm in the title, but I think it’s quite appropriate for our times. The future of dentistry is in the balance. Unless you live in a cave, you can’t have missed a cultural shift in our profession. It’s been occurring for years, and now we are in a definite realignment. It all started with the fragmentation of dentistry. First with the institution of dental insurance in the seventies, then the onset of professionals advertising and the loss of meaning of the original ADA’s Code of Ethics in the eighties.
The nineties brought us the proliferation of “institutions.” Oh, how many “special groups” do we have these days. It seems as if every Institute has its own special group—none sanctioned by any organizing group.
The last decade really fragmented us with the power of the corporations and manufacturers. Major advances in hi-technology have continued to dictate how dentists practice. Dentists get “ranked” as far as what new piece of technology they bring into the practice from cat scans and lasers to cad-cam.
All of this used to upset me – but lately I have seen this as a realignment of the profession.
In the future there will be dentists who do single tooth dentistry, insurance based commodity dentistry vs. those that do comprehensive full mouth dentistry. I can see the periodontists, oral surgeons, restorative dentists and labs aligning themselves as this is written. The turf wars have begun and will continue. The specialties are doing the work of generalists and the generalists are doing high risk specialized procedures. It’s the Wild Wild West.
If you want to be in the first group, here is a way to continue your path to mediocrity (my tongue is in my cheek). This list is modified from Tommy Newberry’s book, The Obama Administration is Shattering the American Dream. Of course the premise of that book is that there is a trend in our country to make us all the same. The death of meritocracy. Insurance companies love this approach. Dentistry as a total commodity.
- Tolerate average standards for yourself. Of course this means don’t worry about your own dental health or the dental health of your staff. Don’t keep up with continuing education.
- Hang out with moaners and complainers. You know where to find them. Local dental society meetings where they argue about politics and the economy. Complaining about insurance companies and still participating.
- Make a habit of doing the minimum. Never go the extra mile. Only do quick exams, never take a full mouth series of radiographs. Don’t take models and never use photography…you get the idea.
- Look for the worst in people and situations. Always tell yourself that your patients won’t accept comprehensive dentistry. Always start by assuming the patient can’t afford your dentistry. Use the words, “Why bother?” as your mantra.
- Blame others for your mistakes and disappointments. When the shade is off…blame the lab. When the patient cancels…blame your receptionist. When the work comes out poorly…blame the assistant or the patient.
- Harbor resentment and discontent. Don’t listen to the good advice of Dale Carnegie and “Never complain, condemn or criticize.” Just carry your long face around all day…that attitude will rub off and really produce mediocrity.
- Mock the successful around you. You know that guy down the street… just put a real hate on him. Get filled with envy.
- Practice group-think about issues small and large. Never think out of the box. Just follow the masses.
- Waste as much time as possible. Don’t go to work with any sense of urgency. Put off working on your practice. Put off that CE course. Watch more television. Check your e-mails instaed of spending time with the people who need you.
- Predict the worst about your future. Continue your pessimistic view of the world. You know how things are going to turn out …so once again…”whatever,” and “why bother?
Okay- so there you have it. Follow those 10 ideas and you are surely going to align yourself in the group of dental practices that will be mediocre. But don’t worry… in America, there will always be a strong market for mediocrity.