Dentists in private practice have historically been solo practitioners, isolated in individual offices. Even in “group practices,” dentists still feel isolated within the larger practice setting. In both instances, the actual dental work is in a world of millimeters within the confines of the mouth. Technical dentistry is always difficult. The added stressors of being a small business owner, CEO, COO, CFO, CMO, Director of HR and visionary can seem a daunting task, to say the least. Within the current educational system, there is very little training to prepare a dentist for all of the rigors of private practice, or even the majority of them, for that matter. The examples from which dentists have to learn are recent graduates with the same minimal formal business training or more experienced dentists with less formal business/practice management training but more hours struggling while learning “on the job.” There are many “dental consulting companies” available which can help most dentists to some extent. Systems-thinking and true integrative care is in its infancy. Combining the two is almost unheard of.
Most dental consultants or consultant groups have a “cookie-cutter” approach, meaning that they attempt to transition the dentist and practice to flow like another practice that has been “successful.” Success, however, is defined in many ways: By financial measurements, such as practice percentages or profit. It is also measured by the number of new patients monthly or annually, staff turnover or lack thereof, or by a myriad of other indicators like treatment failure rate, patient retention, bonus programs and profit sharing. Every dentist (and human being, for that matter) has a different view of happiness and success. More importantly, that vision is dynamic, not static. Some dentists could benefit more from technical improvement and growth and some from behavioral training. Some could focus more on organizational training, productive staff meetings, office systems, lab communication, or staff training, to name a few. The largest oversight of most consultants is the lack of work with the dentist to find what is most important, and how to grow that practice based on core values, with the goal of making each practice unique with purpose and intention. The foundational structure to help grow and sustain a modern practice is systems-thinking and integrative care.
SOLUTION: K² Facilitation and Dental Education. Read more about K² Philosophy