Graduating dental school and working in a private practice is an exciting time. Unfortunately, it also means a huge learning curve for young dentists. I was no different! Here are four common mistakes that I see new dentists make:
- Lack of focus on staff training and documentation
Your staff wants to do a great job (if they don’t, it’s time to part ways). Everybody wants a smooth-running office and stress levels that are as low as possible.The key is setting expectations. Training staff on what to do in certain situations and getting them accustomed to writing everything down will save you a lot of headaches. Written job descriptions and responsibilities ensures everyone is on the same page and will make dealing with future issues much easier.
- Being overly-critical
Over the years, all dentists have treatment results that, when evaluated outside the confines of the office, are less than ideal. When the difficulties of the appointment are considered–gagging, constant movement, a patient who can’t open–it’s amazing anything was done at all.Critical remarks will lead to places you really don’t want to go, and will destroy patients’ trust and confidence in you. Some patients will try to lead you to the dark side–don’t go there. Quickly show the positive solution to the patient’s problem and move on.Bottom line: be honest, find the positives and avoid criticism. This will lead to a cohort of happy and trusting patients.
- Poor patient follow-up
Building trust with patients is absolutely critical. A follow-up call the evening of an appointment is effective, unexpected and easy. If there are no issues, the call reinforces how well everything went. If there are issues, you can be reassuring and deal with any problems before they snowball into bigger ones.Don’t delegate these calls! It is important the calls come from you. If a patient sees you, they get a call. Start making these calls today and see your practice’s retention rate increase over time.
- Not referring to a specialist
There aren’t many things as embarrassing or that can dissolve trust as fast as having to refer in the middle of a procedure. On the other hand, referring beforehand can build trust and make your life much easier. The key is careful patient selection with everything you do. Know your skill level and don’t exceed it. Use your specialist partners for support.The great news is that as you gain experience, your skill and comfort level will improve quickly, and the cases you once thought difficult will become routine.
The first years of practice are hard but exciting. Don’t forget the fundamentals and be sure to avoid these common mistakes. You’ll do great!