Is Everyone Smiling But You? Here Are 3 Ways to Fix That

In Impact by Dental Entrepreneur

Have you ever felt like everyone was smiling but you?

Hours upon hours in sim-lab. Quick, rushed, less-than-tasty dinners so you can hit the books. Patients who don’t show up. Faculty who smirk as they change their minds ten times at your expense. Short weekends. No summers. I could go on…

Can you picture a moment where everyone was smiling but you? Let’s talk about how to overcome that!

Step One

Live with character. The most successful, joyful people I’ve ever met live, lead, and build teams of character. Here’s how:

They develop a vision for one perfect day. I don’t need you to figure it all out. I just need you to dream up one perfect day. The future’s the future, but tell me – given your current circumstance, what’s your perfect dental school day?

Next – stop worrying about how to make that happen. You heard me. How to’s get immeasurably simpler when you tap the breaks on how to and focus on who. Who do you need to make that perfect day happen right now? 

Here’s one example. P.S. – reach out if you want a one-on-one sesh to game your exact scenario. Let’s say your perfect day revolves around finding more free time. I know that was one of my biggies as a student. If that’s you, one of your “who” is someone who’s successfully navigated this specific challenge. 

Here’s one pro tip – grab your smartphone. Open up your screen time. Take a look at how much time you spend a week checking emails and hopping on your go-to social media platforms. You’ll find a minimum of 9 hours a week as most people check their emails 36 times per hour and are on social at least 151 minutes per day. 

So – want more time? Turn off your notifications for emails and social, and schedule times every day you’re going to check-in. It’s unrealistic to not have those activities daily. You can control them.

Step Two

Take the above example as a demonstration of how process can help you. Now – make a list of the top 5 things you do every single day. Once you have your list – break it down. How much time are you devoting to each of your top 5? Is that the appropriate time? If yes – keep doing it as you are. If not – adjust the time as needed.

Then look at how you’re doing – what you’re doing, and remember, the whole who thing from above. I bet there are several people in your class who are doing similar things and can help. And if not – hit me up. I’m happy to help!

Processes take you and me from winging it to best practices. If you want to smile more, once you’re living your best character and finding people of character to help you, add process to everything you do.

Here’s one example – you’re in clinic doing a crown for tooth #30. Character means you show up prepared. Your team of character might involve a classmate who assists. The process is your map for that appointment. 

  • Seat patient (3 minutes). 
  • Small talk and review medical and dental histories (5 minutes). 
  • Anesthesia (5 min)
  • Proximal slice (2 min)
  • Pack cord (2 min)
  • Occlusal reduction (2 min)
  • Axial reduction (6 min)
  • Refine prep (2 min)
  • Scan or impression (5 min)
  • Fabricate temp (10 min)
  • Post-op instructions (2 min)

*Plug in your faculty checks and your level of experience and adjust your times.

Do this every single time, and your patients will have the best experience possible, your faculty will be blown away, and your efficiency will go through the roof.

Here’s one pro tip – build these steps for every procedure you do routinely. Map out the steps, the materials, the technology, all of it – and if you want help, I’ve done this for hundreds of dental students – just ask.

Step Three

Take a look at everything you do globally. Meaning – look at the big picture first and then dive deep where you need to. Whether you’re trying to be productive with patients, with time in sim-lab, with study time, or in your down time – learning to stop putting out fires all the time and thinking big-picture will bring you what you’re looking for.

Here’s one example – you’re still in clinic. Your goal is great patient care and crushing your requirements so you can graduate with as little stress as possible. Want that? Thought so!

Here’s one pro tip – focus on 3 accelerators (these work in private practice as well FYI). 

Diagnosis. Friends, if you can’t see it, you can’t treat it. I know you want that handpiece going every second – but I’m going to be honest with you. That’s a feel-good. Not your best good. 

The happiest, most successful dentists I’ve ever met are the ones who look at a patient and see their future. It helps them deliver top-notch care. It makes them 3-5 times more productive than all others. 

Treatment. I gave you one example of process above. In the practice world, we call those clinical operating procedures. Use the right materials, the right tech, with the right people, in the right clinical situation and you will own clinic today, as well as set yourself up for success as a new grad.

Technology. I know you have limitations as a student. Each school has its own level of tech you get exposed to. Don’t sweat it. Just get your hands on it as often as you can – when you have the potential to use it.

Bringing it home for today – you’re going to have moments where everyone is smiling but you. That’s a life thing. That said, your ability to focus on people, process, and production will keep those moments, moments, and not days, weeks, or longer. When you want help – reach out. When you feel alone – I’m here. 

You’ve got this!

David Rice, DDS, is on a mission to improve our profession by leading the next generation of dentists to grow successful lives and practices. The founder of igniteDDS, Dr. Rice speaks to over 35 dental schools and residency programs a year on practice building, team building and wealth building. Dr. Rice is a private practitioner, educator, author, and mentor who connects students, young dentists, and professionals from diverse dental-related businesses, “fueling passion beyond the classroom.”