I am so excited to be able to share my introduction for Practical Practice Solutions: Building Your Successful Future. My inspiration for this book came from my experiences after finishing dental school. We were “let out” into the world, without a single class on how to run a business. “The dental curriculum gives the students a foundation on which to build true expertise, but the depth and the breadth of the dental curriculum does not leave much room for courses on dental practice management. New graduates have little-to-no knowledge of what it is like to run a business, let alone be the CEO of a small company. Practicing dentists are challenged by the demands of keeping current in the field while managing change in the office.”
To succeed in the business side of dentistry, we have to learn about the many facets the business that involves dental practices. Being a dentist, we are the CEO
CFO of our own company. Even if you are an associate, you are the clinician treating with your patient. Your success has a lot to do with your patients returning for recare and follow up appointments. Like any other business, dentistry takes patience (and patients) to succeed. My journey from dental assistant to dental hygienist to dentist gave me ideas as to how to grow my business.
My main goal with this book if to offer insight for dental students, new graduates and seasoned clinicians on the nuances of the management of a dental practice. It is a stepping stone for a more in-depth look at content topics, such as social media and accounting. Please contact me if you have any comments, and check it out on Amazon.
Though my dental training was comprehensive, one of the main content areas that was lacking in my dental school curriculum thirty plus years ago was business management. Upon graduation from University of Illinois College of Dentistry in Chicago, we were set loose on to the world to become small business owners. CEOs of our own company. In our new practices, we became human resource managers, chief financial officers, inventory management control specialists and corporate relations liaisons, all in addition to focusing on the technical aspects of dentistry. No one gave us a course on how to manage a dental team, decide upon what type of practice to enter, navigating dental-benefit companies or seeking out financial advice.
We had faculty advisors on the correct cavity preparation, but not on the correct way to enter into the world of business. We went to the major dental suppliers who created an office design for us and then purchased furniture. Alternatively, if you have the luxury to wait, we visited the major dental trade shows to look at equipment along with someone from the dental supply company to fill up the space. We had to sell ourselves to the banks for financing. We opened our doors with a plan of success because our doors were open.
We managed without knowing how to manage. We created a fee schedule from various practice management gurus, respected journals, thoughtleader articles and word-of-mouth discussions with colleagues. We filled out claim forms (sometimes by ourselves, occasionally with the help of a team member) and prayed for accuracy and timely payment. We entered into arrangements with malpractice carriers and leasing agents. We started businesses from the ground up and learned along the way. Unfortunately, this lack of practice management coursework continued over the years. The world is a little different now. You can’t just “go” out there and start a practice without a plan or some basic information. Although dental schools still teach state of the art dentistry, very little management is in the curriculum.
The American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) sets the curriculum for dental school. Although the majority of course content is similar, some schools will offer a variety of seminars and topics not mandated by CODA. Dental schools are starting to offer courses in practice management, though there is not a whole lot of time in the dental school curriculum to offer a full semester course in practice management. Few schools do offer this option, but for the most part, the technical and scientific aspects of learning dentistry far outweigh the “practical” aspects of being a CEO.
With many outstanding thought leaders out there to inform us on topics such as practice management, dental benefits, paperless offices, team strategies and financial matters, it is a lot easier now to make educated decisions about the type of successful practice you would like to have. Dental publications offer advice. Online courses are also available. Dental MBA courses are springing up. The American Dental Association has an MBA course, as well.
I am pleased to offer a starting point for conversation about practical practice management in the pages of this book. You will find a collection of outstanding submissions authored by industry experts, which cover both basic and complex concepts that you will need to start a practice when you are ready to commit to being your own boss. I would like to thank each and every one of my participating authors for contributing to this text that is, in itself, fairly revolutionary, as there are so few practice management books that are as comprehensive as this one convenient volume.
I am grateful to Linda Mehta, my editor and publisher, for answering my phone call and having the vision to publish this content. Thank you for taking this journey with me. I would like to recognize all the amazing contributors who presented a piece of the wonderful puzzle of a successful practical practice life.
I would also like to thank Dr. Jane Selbe and Dr. Fae Ahlstrom, for teaching me about leading, my father, Irving Doniger, for his support in pursuing my dental career (and financing my office when banks, at that time, would not talk to me), and my husband, Bob Pollyea, for always being there.
Sheri B. Doniger, DDS
With Permission from PMPH
Sheri B Doniger, DDS is a leading dental clinician, author, educator, and consultant. An avid researcher, Dr. Doniger has up to the minute practice information and the newest technology. She has authored numerous articles on topics ranging from periodontal disease to new dental technology, and has presented many lectures with an ongoing focus on health and wellness. She is honored to be working with many of the leading industry companies who seek out her expertise. Her “one patient at a time” attitude comes from many years of personalized dental service to her loyal patients. “Excellent dentistry takes focus: focus on the patient as a whole in addition to their oral care needs. It is imperative to focus on one patient at a time. This is what we do best.”