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What We Can Learn About Dental Practice – Playing Blackjack

February 21, 2019

Filed under: Art of the Examination — Barry @ 10:56 AM

Would you like to learn how to win at playing Blackjack? If you have about five or six hours I can show you how. I offer no guarantees but at least you will learn a system that you can take back to your dental practice —and there I will guarantee the results.

Fifteen years ago I wrote my first book, The Art of the Examination. 

In that book I explained what was to become the heart and soul of my practice for years…the key system to which all other systems were connected. Intellectually I totally understood the importance of the system and felt qualified to write that book. Like playing blackjack, I understood the rules and felt that if I just followed the rules I would win. But life doesn’t work like that and in dentistry and in games of skill...it takes practice. While playing Blackjack I noticed a few things…things that would prohibit other players from ever winning over the long run. They might win a hand here and there…but they would always leave broke, and mostly frustrated or angry.

Like many dentists that I know…leaving work frustrated and angry.

Let’s face it, who has the emotional temperament or resilience to keep going when you always get bad cards…or bad patients. What I realized is that we have little control over the cards or the next patient who walks in our door.

And just what are bad cards? I have won when I had a 16 and the dealer showed a 10. I have won with 12s. I have lost with 20. In all of those cases I played my hands as “the book” told me to play…like the dealer (the house) plays. Like a robot, very boring.  With patients the same thing…I have had all kinds of patients accept all kinds of dentistry…and have people who I felt needed and could afford good dentistry, refuse treatment. But I always played by the rules I developed in my book and I always did a comprehensive examination on every patient…no shortcuts. Like a robot. No deviation and my staff learned to align themselves around the examination process.

I can write a book about that word process. I did.

I told you if you want to win you had to commit to playing for a long time. As time went on I began to realize that I did have control over some things. At Blackjack I could control the amount that I bet. When the cards heated up I would increase my bet (press the bet for those of you who never gamble). Those players who never pressed, rarely won. Occasionally they would go for broke and put all their chips on the table…just when the dealer gets her third blackjack in a row. Sad to watch.

In your dental practice you too have things you can control. Like the conversation…and with practice that gets better in time. You can also control the amount of time you spend with the patient. For those of you who have seen me speak I often talk about “slowing down” because when working with people slow is fast (their ability to make decisions) and fast is slow (their inability to make decisions). When you think about it there are so many things you can control or influence. So many dentists don’t take the time to provide this level of service. Many jump to conclusions by judging the patient way too prematurely, never getting the opportunity to get to “yes.”

Like busting before the dealer ever gets to play her cards.

When I began to practice playing Blackjack and practice my examination skills I began to win more…and more. You can too. Last week as I was leaving the casino I saw one of those losers walking to his car and cursing at the moon about how unlucky he was. Then he steeped in dog pooh. I couldn’t help smiling because he knows how to play, yet all he needed was a philosophy and good systems. Then…I looked down and on the ground was a twenty dollar bill just waiting for a new owner…I guess you might say I am lucky.

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