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Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Business of Dentistry

Business vs. Charity

I started my career in the dental field working for a friends dad who is a dentist. He trained me how to assist. His assisting needs were very simple- basically hold the suction and clean the room and instruments.
From there I started a new assisting job for an upscale cosmetic office where the assistant did everything.
My original office worked with insurance and recommended treatment one minute before the tooth was lost to decay. Patients often wouldn't pay for dental work that they had done and he was perfectly content to read his paper if a patient no- showed. The second office focused on more proactive and elective treatment and tried to avoid letting insurance companies dictate treatment. Patients paid for treatment prior to receiving it and the main focus was on keeping the schedule full and productive.

 It was a difficult change in almost every aspect for me to make.

Every dentist, hygienist, patient... has an idea of what they think is ethical and good treatment. I can't think of another field where the opinions are so varied. My advice is to work for someone who's ideals align with yours.

After many offices and experiences I have come to the conclusion that there is a niche for every kind of practice. People on medicaid need dental treatment and so does Bill Gates. One does not make the other wrong. Some people choose to stay at the Motel 6 while others prefer The Ritz.

I have since wrapped my head around the idea that the office that I choose to work for must turn a profit in order to keep the doors open so that we can provide treatment to our patients. They must also bring in revenue to write my paycheck since this is the reason that I show up every day,the reason that I went to school and the way that I provide for my family.

A lot of hygienists have big hearts and want, as my husband puts it "save the world" not "sell" dentistry.
When we went to school they didn't teach us how to "plant the seed" or increase case acceptance- they taught us how to wash our hands for 3 minutes without touching the sink.

We get out of school start our first job and realize that washing you hands for that length of time may not be practical before, during and after each patient. We also realize that maybe we should have had a class or two on business- at least I did.

I hope that my following posts will help you feel more comfortable if you are struggling with the same dilemma I had when I first came to this realization. If you never had this problem then I hope my upcoming ideas will inspire you!

One last thought:
 A thriving dental practice can afford to reach into the community and help individuals who are less fortunate


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