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Is the Stress in Your Practice Killing You?

May 24th, 2016 | By Dr. Marynak | Blog

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By Dr. Deborah Marynak

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You, The Dentist

After almost twenty years in private practice, I looked back on all I’d learned about the issues that caused stress in my practice that had nothing to do with the skill of performing Dentistry. It was all the things you didn’t learn in Dental School. I recall the Instructor who said: “If you think Dental School is hard, wait until you get out.” This same Instructor gave up Dentistry and became a stock broker; I always thought he was so brave giving up a profession he’d spent so much time acquiring.

We were required to take the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI); the MMPI is a psychological test that assesses personality traits and psychopathology. It is primarily intended to eliminate applicants who are suspected of having mental health issues. It’s important to rule out applicants with psychological issues, but I would be the first to say there are other important personality traits that could potentially determine success or failure in Dentistry.

One of the most important measurements of success in Dentistry is an individual’s ability to Lead. Good leadership rarely comes naturally, and it isn’t taught in Dental School. Sometimes I think that the reason those Dentists were teaching was because of that saying: “those that can, do and those who can’t, teach.”

In my opinion, success in Dentistry requires an outstanding personality, one who’s aware of his strengths and weaknesses, possesses a cool exterior under pressure and a deep love of people. Learning effective Leadership comes easier with these attributes.

Employees, Your Greatest Asset

Are your employees on board with your vision? Do they arrive on time and leave their personal problems at the door or better yet, at home? Do they all work together as a Team even if they don’t care for each other on a personal level? Are they open to constructive criticism and willing to try new ideas? Do they understand that it’s not you who pays them, it’s the patients?

You spend the greatest part of your day with your Team; are you comfortable with the relationships you’ve brought together to serve your patients? Do you have an employee manual that clearly defines your expectations? Are you dealing with an employee whose long-term employment is questionable and you’re putting off dealing with it?

Do you have an Office Manager who’s got your back and who’s someone you can trust implicitly? Or, are you trying to deal with all these issues by yourself, leaving you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed?

Patients, the Good and the Not So Good

Over the years your patients become an extended part of your family and friends. Patients provide income for you, your family and your employees. Sometimes however, they’re more stress than they’re worth.

Do they chronically fail or arrive late to their appointment? Do they pay their bill at the door? Are they overly difficult to treat? Do you have signed office policies and financial arrangements for your patients? Sometimes going to work is just easier if you invite them to find another dentist.

The next time you’re reviewing the schedule and you see that name that causes your stomach to sort of…react…do yourself a favor. Stop and reflect on the behaviors that are causing that guttural reaction; write that patient a “we’ll see you for emergencies for 30 days, then we’ll part ways” letter. Dentistry is enough; there’s no need to compromise your day (or your Team’s day!) by keeping difficult patients in the fold.

Systems: It all Comes Down to Solid, Repeatable Systems

Do you have strict boundaries on the chronic “no show” patient? Are your policies clearly defined and do they require a patient’s signature? We can forgive one forgotten appointment, number two should come with a price tag, and number three means we part ways. You can rotate this policy at any interval you deem necessary. Lose these troublesome patients…you don’t need them ruining your day and affecting your bottom line.

Without concrete systems, all these issues can cause insurmountable stress. An Employee Manuel clearly defines your expectations, leaving no room for ambiguity. A top-notch Office Manager can handle issues for you, leaving you to focus on Dentistry and an inventory system saves time and money. Are your systems in place or are you struggling to put them together? With over 65 years of experience, Dental Staffing can help.

“For a business to survive and thrive, 100% of all the systems must be functioning and accountable. For example: an airplane is a system of systems. If an airplane takes off and the fuel system fails, there is often a crash. The same thing happens in business. It’s not the systems that you know about that are the problem-it’s the systems you are not aware of that cause you to crash.”

– Robert Kiyosaki, The Cashflow Quadrant

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