A peer-reviewed journal that offers evidence-based clinical information and continuing education for dentists.

Waiting For A Calm That Will Not Come

Waiting for a Calm That Will Not Come.


I’m sitting on a boat dock in a quiet cove in eastern Tennessee. The sun is setting. A stiff breeze from the north is rocking the dock. Just wait for the calm they said, it comes every day at this time. The wind dies down and a cool breeze wafts in from the south. I anticipate relief from the dock heaving side to side, interrupting my thoughts. But an hour after sunset the turmoil persists. The calm eludes me.

So goes dental practice. We’re always hoping for those tranquil moments when everything flows as it should. Patients are doing well, insurance companies are at bay. Then the phone rings — a two-week toothache has become an emergency at 4:30 on Thursday afternoon.

All is not calm. So how do we deal with the situation? … That depends on your approach to life and your economic status

Let’s face it, these days there is more chaos than calm. To quote Bob Dylan (again), the times they are a-changin’. The world is changing, our country is changing, our practices are changing. The middle class that many of us have depended on for our livelihood continues to be negatively affected. Jobs once closely held have migrated overseas or to neighboring countries. All is not calm.

So how do we deal with the situation? As Rahm Emanuel said, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

How can we use the situation to our advantage? That depends on your approach to life and your economic status. A number of us will be forced to make significant changes due to financial constraints. Some will decide to accept insurance assignment when they never did before, or take more of those patients than they currently do. Some will go with corporate dentistry. Some may even retire. Others may go into group practice or change their hours to make their offices more accommodating for patients. A smaller number will take the challenging steps to make their practices stand out from the crowd.

This last group of dentists will get more training, clean up their offices, retrain their staffs and develop special skills that they enjoy and can do well. Then they will let the world know what they have done. They will communicate with existing patients on Facebook and Twitter, and send birthday greetings to patients. Their websites will have great before and after photographs of their work, along with patient testimonials.

The group that waits for the calm will slowly give up more and more autonomy to third parties. Fees will be lower and dentists will have less independence in making therapeutic decisions.

Each of us has a choice. Wait for the calm (which will never come) or take steps to practice as independently as possible.

Which will you do?

From Decisions in Dentistry. September 2016;2(09):8.

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