Friday, June 7, 2013

Mistakes Made --- Lessons Learned in Owning a Dental Practice - Dealing with Isolation

Here is a another guest blog from our client Dr. Lurie.

It seems to me that there is a danger to dentistry that usually is never addressed.  This pertains to isolation and lack of socialization.  Dentistry by its' very nature is singular in that the doctor practices within himself to the very best of his ability.  He reports to his office, usually alone and if he is in solo practice, his interactions are with his patients and staff.  However, his inner thought processes, decision making, and perhaps his business decisions are made in a very narrow environment.  Does this sound like isolation?  To some degree, I think it is.  If he is in a group practice, the isolation is less but still present as regards his talent, self criticism, how he melds with his colleagues and staff.  Is he holding up his end of the workload, does the staff warm to him as much as his associates and so forth? It is difficult to write about this because it requires the same type of introspection that I am trying to bring attention to and perhaps solve.

Other health care professionals are in a different environment with hospital colleagues, much larger staffing, a general air of activity and motion, fellow practitioners available to discuss a case or personal issues and all other social activities that a group situation encompasses. Just being a dentist requires isolation in the field (mouth) that we work in, and the narrowness of our area of expertise (in the good sense) and the necessity to bring a critical eye to our work.  As has been said many times, there is an art to dentistry as well as the science of dentistry.  This might be one of the areas that differentiates us from other areas of health care providers.    When we are in a non-dental atmosphere (party, dining, sports etc), many dentists find it difficult to talk about anything other than dentistry.  How many of us have said that I don't want to go out with a bunch of dentists and talk shop all night? How many wives have said the same thing or that in going out, feel that it is part of the job  and not a fun or relaxing evening?

Over my fifty years, I have had these thoughts and also the arguments with my wife about this type of evening or even the general atmosphere of  "dental isolation"  Fortunately, I confronted this problem early on and discussed it at length with my CPA at one of our many meetings.  By facing the issue I was able to broaden my connections with the "outside world".  Hobbies were a big part.  I am an amateur photographer, and now in my retirement, assist a professional photographer on his many shoots.  My church activities certainly increased my socialization and again, in retirement, I am active and engaged in many outreach programs which require socialization.  It is interesting to note that in these non-professional groups, I am looked to for guidance and expertise.  I think this comes from the education and stature that we all possess but don't realize that we have.  These examples, of which there are many, have helped immensely with the social interaction with my fellow dentists and something I started doing and living long before I retired.  We actually have other things to discuss, question, ponder, and deliberate besides the mouth. 

Dentistry is our center and our love, but it can narrow our scope if we let it.  It should be number one during our work day, during out continuing education time and certainly in our relationships with colleagues.  However, be aware of becoming too narrow and don't be afraid to get advice from those who know you and love you.  These are just some thoughts... it seems to me. 

More mistakes made and lessons learned next time.

Dr. Donald B. Lurie, DDS
phone:  717-235-0764
cell:       410-218-2229

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1 comment:

Teresa Duncan said...

A very candid and honest piece - thank you!