In December 2016, a Wisconsin Veterans Affairs medical center made national headlines when nearly 600 patients were exposed to HIV and hepatitis B and C after a dentist reused his own dental instruments instead of performing procedures with hospital-sterilized, disposable tools. This past April saw the publication of “Lion Hearted,” an account of Cecil the lion’s last hours before he was shot and killed by Walter Palmer, a Minnesota dentist who became an overnight internet pariah following his ill-fated safari in July 2015. These are just two news stories, but each one can impact how the public views our profession and how much our patients trust us.
We spend a lot of our time reading, whether it’s PowerPoint slides, research articles or textbooks. The conceptual knowledge we gain in our first two years of dental school positively impacts our procedural knowledge in clinic. However, there are other aspects of clinical practice that aren’t taught as thoroughly in school, including effective leadership and communication. These four books are great resources for enhancing these skills.
My first involvement with organized dentistry happened when a dentist from the Great Houston Dental Society (GHDS) invited me to Texas Mission of Mercy. I took on the opportunity, which opened the door for other community service outreach that provided free dental care for veterans and underserved populations. These experiences reminded me that we have the potential to generate a positive impact on others’ lives, even with the smallest amount of help we can provide. Together with our mutual passion and skills, we were able to improve the health of our community. Without this cooperation and guidance, none of this would have been possible.
For many of us, part of the decision to become a dentist was based on our desire to work independently without a “boss.” While that may be the goal, even those who intend to become business owners and independent practitioners may have to report to someone along the way. Most will start off working for someone else, whether as an associate in a dental corporation or in a private dental practice. While you may be the preferred provider for many patients in the practice, in order to truly succeed in these initial positions, you will need to figure out how to build a good relationship with your boss and get the most out of your time in that practice.
In April 2012, I emptied my class locker, turned in my required department signatures and stood in line with half a dozen classmates to terminate clinic privileges as a graduating dental student. Maybe I was expecting confetti or balloons. A parade for all of us seemed appropriate. But instead, there was just some paperwork to be completed and the return of my student ID and ASDA office key.
Risk management is our best defense to ensure a healthy and prosperous dental practice. Ranging from malpractice claims to employee claims, becoming familiar with common lawsuits in dentistry is critical. It is also vital to practice risk management in your dental practice. Risk management is significant in combating and defending yourself against claims and lawsuits. Outlined are essential details to recognize when considering risk management in your dental practice.
If you’ve experienced clinic, I suspect you have had at least one difficult conversation with a patient. Having these types of talks is one of the hardest parts of our jobs and can occur every day. As dental professionals, it is our duty to report the facts about our patient’s oral health to them. Once the patient is informed, they are tasked with making a decision about the course of treatment. How can we make these conversations easier for ourselves and our patients?