My BEST Dentists Journal

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From the time I entered dental school I was taught to be different.

For the first time ever, I learned to care about the millimeter increment and the position of our mandibular condyle in the resting position.  I was even taught a different language.  Mesial, distal, occlusion, mastication, halitosis and bruxism became my new buzz words.  I was taught to act differently.  I was taught to have compassion yet inflict pain.  I was taught to serve and heal and to drill and fill.   But truthfully, I grew into a professional different from other professionals outside of the dental industry.

The practice of dentistry is both a profession and a handcraft.  It's also one of the most valuable skills and blessings to others in this world.  

After all we keep people smiling by eliminating their pain and fixing their teeth.  We give them confidence and self worth.  I’ve done it, I’ve seen it and I love it.   But this result, this influence, comes about more from the handcraft than from the profession.  Professionals are not characterized as repair men (or women) in the literal sense. Professionals are more about the business side, the operational side and the management side.

I had an EXCELLENT dental education.   But I was barely taught how to enter the business world or what the business world was for that matter.  

Fourth year offered one  limited business class, and in that class instead of learning correct business principles and practices, I learned the dental way of owning and operating a practice.   You know the dental way, have one class your senior year, buy a practice for a lot of money and hire an office manager with a lot of experience to run your office.

As a result I spent a lot of my career not understanding what the rest of the world’s business professionals do to be successful.  And so like most, I determined my success on clinical cases, awesome crown and bridge and margins so clean a blind lab tech could nail it.  But truthfully, on a business level, I wasn't very good at running a practice, leading a team, marketing or anything else.  My clinical skill and personality was the bedrock of my practice success.

So, I tried to learn more about the business of dentistry, but I found that there was still some misalignment with “dental” business and the rest of the business world.  Take for instance our unique understanding of patient attrition.  No, we aren't talking about tooth attrition, but about patients who leave the practice.  In the latter sense, what we may characterize as patient attrition rate is commonly known in the real business world as churn rate.  The general idea that you have people leaving out the back door of your practice.

Small differences like this can make our profession less professional.  To further complicate things sometimes the handcraft or “clinical” side even puts up barriers to joining other professionals in word and action.  Truth be known, true professionals drive business, professionals direct, lead and stand up and focus on business success.  Some frown on these ideas for a dental practice, after all we provide a service in the true sense of the word.

I am not a master in business and I would barely consider myself equivalent to a first year student.  I’ve been around the block only to realize that my experience is just that, only one block.  There’s a whole lot more out there, right now and more to come in the future.

So where do I learn to keep my profession professional and where do I learn about what's on the horizon?  Well it starts with some good business organizations in our space that I’ve come to know like the DEO, ADSO and the ADA.  It comes from good books, facebook groups and great connections with vendors.  But it really comes because I make the choice to educate myself.   A move that Blockbuster wished they had made before Netflix came around and a move that Netflix made when streaming became mainstream.

Our profession is changing, time to head back to school and learn to be different.

(08/09/2020)
by Bryson D LeMone DDS

More Information: https://www.mybestdentists.com/BrysonLemone

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