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Where do you turn when you need information about your practice?
Most dentists learn about the business of dentistry from the same learning institution - The School of Hard Knocks. And while some may argue that experience (both good and bad) is a great teacher, the dental profession is now much more competitive.
Today’s dentist doesn’t have the luxury of spending years trying to figure out how to make his or her practice successful. So what’s the first step? Where do you turn when you need to know what to do?
Of course, there are a myriad of resources for dental professionals - However, there will be regular challenges to the practice that require real-time advice and solutions. Choosing the most effective resources to help you navigate those challenges will help ensure practice success.
Understanding your options
Successful business leaders know that learning agility is one of the keys to success. While dentists are keenly aware of this when it comes to continuing education for their clinical training, they aren’t often as intentional about advancing their dental business knowledge.
There are a number of resources to help increase your understanding of the business of dentistry. They key is finding what’s most effective. Let’s examine the different options:
Articles. Articles often have good points but typically they’re brief and do not directly relate to the challenge a practice is facing at the moment. However, I’m a big believer that reading articles is valuable for building a knowledge base over time.
Books. In a survey we performed, we found the average dentist reads one business related book a year. Like articles, reading books helps build valuable knowledge. However, books offer far more comprehensive information than articles.
The internet. The internet has an amazing amount of good information. Unfortunately a great amount of the information found on the Internet is superficial, unregulated, and not peer reviewed or vetted. In addition, many Internet resources require that you buy someone’s book, subscription or other product for access.
Experts. Dental consultants can offer lots of great advice and strategies to help your practice. However, they are often expensive, time-consuming, and don’t necessarily focus on the specific challenge or opportunity a practice is facing.
For example, I recently received a call from a dentist with staff labor overhead 11 percent higher than it should have been. His income was going down every year and he was still expected by his staff to give raises. Depending on which expert he asked he would get a series of different solutions. He could stop giving raises, fire the entire team, and make his life and practice miserable. He could reduce salaries, which would probably lead to negative attitudes. Choosing the right expert solution could prove to be as difficult as facing the challenge itself.
Colleagues. One of the best options I can recommend is learning from your colleagues. For too many years dentists have not wanted to share information because they compete. While the competition factor is real, it is also very common in the business world for competing organizations to discuss the best industry standards and methods of doing business. Sharing with colleagues is one of the best opportunities to address real-time challenges and opportunities for the doctor or the practice.
There are many ways to access education. The key is to determine whether the method you are using will address the specific challenge or opportunity you’re facing. While all of the above recommendations all have pros and cons, my favorite is turning to your colleagues for guidance. When you can access a group of dentists who are open and willing to help you, you’ll gain great advice from colleagues who are facing the same business challenges that you do every day.