As a dental student, we’re often not confronted with the importance of experience in business settings. My work history as a human resources professional gave me firsthand insight into the key leadership and management skills that I can use as a practicing dentist.
An article from the Journal of Dental Education defines motivational interviewing (MI) as a “person-centered, goal-directed method of communication for eliciting and strengthening intrinsic motivation for behavior change.” In dentistry, MI is a strategy that can be used to improve patient outcomes and acceptance of treatment plan and suggestions for oral health care by increasing a patient’s motivation for behavior change.
After over a decade of working as a general dentist in England, my wife and I decided to move to her hometown, Los Angeles. This decision brought one huge implication: My dental degree and license were not accepted by the state of California. So I set out to enter a program for international dentists, which meant spending at least two years in dental school again.
Shelves and shelves full of toothpastes, mouth rinses, teeth whiteners and more — which one to buy? In addition to having to choose from a multitude of items, patients may also have questions about the chemicals that make up these products. Dental professionals field questions about toothpaste and whiteners with ingredients such as fluoride, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), triclosan, and hydrogen peroxide and/or carbamide peroxide. Some patients favor products free of these elements and move toward what are perceived as better, natural products. Dental professionals should know about research regarding chemicals in dental products that patients are likely to encounter.
Dr. Mark Costes has a wealth of experience in leadership and practice management, having owned more than 15 dental practices and employed hundreds of people throughout his career. He now has a group of seven practices and a consulting company in the Dental Success Institute. What qualifies him to be a coach? “Having made all the mistakes in the book,” he says. He urges dental students to learn from his experiences, immerse themselves in all of the free self-education resources out there and get out of their comfort zone.
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.