Sensational Seven: Rate Yourself. Part 2


Clinical Quality, we have found, is the least important of the 7 from a financial success standpoint.  That said, we provide quality care because it’s the right thing to do.  But in our model, quality is not done so much for financial success.  Of course, we MUST always treat to within the standard of care.  I give myself a 5 here.  Understanding that the standard of care is a range not a point and that all patients deserve our respect equally but not our time equally (in our model), I ultimately got EVERY procedure to within the standard of care.  When I struggled, I did it over again or gave a refund or paid for someone else to do it better or all three or two of the three.  Bear in mind, less successful dentists ALWAYS excuse that fact by attacking the quality of the more successful.  “I can’t earn as much as them but I’m a better dentist.”  Don’t be intimidated by this nonsense.  I’ve always wondered how these daters (dentists who hate other dentists) figure I could do another $1M worth of dentistry each year when I’m re-doing all the dentistry from last year.  Our Dental Board consistently reveals that Comfort Docs have FEWER complaints per patient visit than other dentists.  Those are facts.  Clinical Quality is important but it usually won’t make you more financially successful any more than being a top dental student will.  Which is not much.  Not saying it’s fair, just saying it’s true.

Confrontational Tolerance is extremely important and I give myself the only 10 here. This is the anti-Doc buries his/her head in sand factor. You know, “I just do the dentistry and the high school graduate up front will handle all those tough potential disagreeable issues.” Sorry, we want our Docs confronting these issues. CT may be the most misunderstood of the 7 as many think this means every issue means an antagonistic argument. Not at all and on the contrary those with CT skills are simply always up for confronting the patient, partner, staff, insurance, lab, whatever issue. The skilled here handle them directly, professionally and respectfully but with the confidence that he/she will do the right thing and do so NOW, before it festers. Like so much of the 7, this is a communication skill and I worry it can’t be taught, in large part.

Organizational Skills is self-explanatory and generally refers to practice management but that’s a bit too simplistic. I believe self -discipline is a huge part of this one. For us it means adherence to our Lean & Mean practice management systems. Can the Doc organize and order tasks mentally and accomplish them productively EVERY DAY. Sorry to be trite here but honestly, if Doc has a messy desk, I’m betting he doesn’t score well here and it hurts his success. I’ve always believed true multi-tasking is ordering, organizing and accomplishing a series of tasks efficiently one at a time rather than doing more than one task at a time. I never treated 4 patients at the same time but thousands of times while the impression was setting on a patient, I read a radiograph for another, checked a prophy on another, did a 3-4 minute initial interview on yet another before checking the set impression. Likewise, can you commit to front office tasks religiously, like watching the cash, monitoring the accounts receivable, seeing claim forms, and checking the schedule multiple times a day EVERY DAY? Do you prep and review today’s charts before each shift and pledge to never leave the office without your care call list. I NEVER blew off a care call list. I mean NEVER. I don’t mean just once or twice or a few times. NEVER. I realize how “out there” that sounds to many of you but that’s Organizational Skills and self-discipline. And by the way, I know of no dentist anywhere more financially successful than me. Another good example is charting completely yet concisely, consistently and ON TIME. The Doc who completes his/her charts after the day is done is not organized, I fear, less successful as a result, and is a liability ticking time bomb. I give myself a 9 here and I don’t know how to teach organization skills and self-discipline! Do you??

Finally and in no order that matters is Leadership/Character. This may be the most hopeless of all with respect to teaching. It is said you are born with it. A good description is Leadership is doing the right thing while others are watching and character is doing the right thing while no one is watching. The crass example of leadership in the dental office is when the Doc spruces up the patients’ restroom while the staff can see. Did it hundreds of times. If such a task is “beneath” the Doc, I worry about leadership AND elitism, an even greater sin. People follow leaders with character even when they might be wrong. Character is a heartbreaker because a lack of it in a partner makes me feel so helpless. Let’s say hypothetically, a small group of long-term (say 10 years or so) partners reveal themselves, over time to lack character. Again, hypothetically they are literally liars and cheats. Of course they won’t be around long but I would agonize as to how I could fail to impart any character to these people over a 10-year period. On the other hand, should we be expected to teach 40-something professionals right from wrong? Maddening that this can’t be taught. Poor leadership/lack of character is ALWAYS ultimately revealed and it kills careers. I’ll cut a measured corner here or there but still give myself a lofty 9 on Leadership/Character.

There you have it. That’s more than enough to get you thinking. Feel free to weigh in and help all of us deal with the frustrations I have outlined. That and rate yourself. Good luck improving your scores on your way to greater success. Then again, maybe I’m wrong . . . I’ve been wrong before . . . naw don’t think so.

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