If you have ever worked with a dental consultant, you know that he or she will typically focus on the professional realm alone. Consultants will look at budget, marketing, scheduling, and similar practical concerns. However, anything other than tangible business matters are usually outside their domain. As a dental coach, I take a slightly different approach. I recognize that your personal and professional life go hand-in-hand. You cannot grow in one area if you do not develop both aspects of your life.
When I work with new clients, I usually begin with a comprehensive self-assessment. I ask them to take an honest look at their practice growth, financial status, interactions with the team, patient relationships, family, life, and personal satisfaction. Often, if there is a problem in these areas, it is a common thread running through most aspects of dentists’ lives. Following self-evaluation, I help my clients develop a plan of action. I encourage specificity. Dentists should have clear goals, defined means of accomplish those goals, and a firm timeframe in which to achieve them.
In contrast to a consultant, however, my work goes beyond the strictly professional realm. Budgeting, marketing, and similar matters are certainly important elements of my work. At the same time, I recognize that without correlating growth in other areas, my clients will never experience true practice growth and personal satisfaction.
Go Out and Do!
Here are five things I often encourage dentists to do. Although these activities have nothing to do with teeth, they often have monumental benefits for the business of dentistry. If you are looking for growth and greater satisfaction, try these activities.
- Get involved in the community: Community involvement and charitable work is important for several reasons. First and most importantly, it helps others (and presumably that’s why you do what you do, right?). Second, it makes you a more fulfilled and well-rounded person. Third, it gets your name out into the wider community. Potential patients will recognize you for your compassion and commitment to others.
- Take communication classes: Dentists rightly place a huge emphasis on continuing education. However, instead of taking yet another class on conscious sedation, I encourage you to take a class on communication and relationships. Above everything else, potential patients are looking for a dentist who truly listens and understands their needs.
- Take an oral surgeon out for a drink: It is important to forge relationships with specialists and other practitioners in your area. When you have a trusted colleague to whom you can refer your patients, it makes your own practice more credible. I encourage you to get to know other dentists in your area personally. It builds greater trust and expands your knowledge of dentistry. You may even make a new friend along the way.
- Take your spouse out on a date: Often, I see frazzled, harried clients who readily admit they have lost perspective. If this sounds familiar, I urge you to look closely at your family life. Have you neglected your spouse or kids due to practice responsibilities? If so, it’s time to find some balance. When you feel that you are a slave to your practice, you and your family are not the only ones to suffer. Your office team and patients are likely to become the unwitting targets of your frustration.
- Go Golfing: Ok, it doesn’t have to be golfing, but you should take time to do something for yourself – something you truly enjoy. Like many of my clients, you may think that this is “selfish” or “impractical.” The truth is that it is immensely important. Without solo downtime, you are likely to feel stressed and snappish. You may even lose your love for your profession. Whether it is golfing, hiking, or simply escaping to the movies, there is nothing selfish or impractical about this needed relaxation.