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Helping You Succeed as a Dentist

Small GPR program in Evanston, Ill. delivers volumes of experience

Dental school is only the tip of the iceberg. The more I learned, the more I realized what I didn’t know. A general practice residency (GPR) was the next logical step.

Dr. Carolyn Norton

Dr. Carolyn Norton

I was looking for a small residency program with sufficient fixed prostho and endo experience. What I got was exactly that plus significant oral surgery experience, my own full time assistant, and a wealth of mentors who also teach for some of the best continuing education institutes in the country. Being one of two residents at the NorthShore University Hospital in Evanston, Illinois, my dental education is specific to my interests and my patients’ needs. My attendings ask me what I want to learn, and that’s what we pursue. The attendings are truly there because they love to teach and want to help me succeed as a general dentist.

I also wanted a program where I had responsibility. I wanted to deal with emergencies and difficult cases. In dental school, all difficult cases were sent to the graduate specialty clinics, or an oral surgery resident would swoop down and save the day. I needed to learn how to take care of business myself. I alternate the call schedule every seven days with my co-resident, covering four hospitals within the NorthShore University System. Every time I get paged and go in for an emergency, I see something I have never seen before and learn something valuable. Being on call is never time wasted. It is exactly what I needed.

If you’re interested in a GPR, it’s important to know what you want out of the experience. Go visit the program and talk to previous residents. You can find more information about my GPR program here. All programs are very different, so you need to do your research.

I still find plenty of time for the gym, spending time with loved ones and enjoying Chicago. I am more than happy with my GPR experience and already feel confident about entering private practice. And to think, I still have six months of learning left.

 

Dr. Carolyn Norton is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and a 2014 graduate of the University of Florida College of Dentistry. She is half way through a 12-month general practice residency at the North Shore University Hospital in Evanston, Ill., affiliated with the University of Chicago. Dr. Norton was a contributing editor for the American Student Dental Association from 2012-14.

PBHS: 3 rules for a successful direct mail campaign

Here are three rules to follow to make your direct mail campaign a success, according to PBHS, the website and marketing services provider endorsed by ADA Business Resources:PBHS

  • Select your mailing list: Define your audience by selecting demographic constraints that are applicable to your target market. For example, age of targeted patients, household revenue and geography. Legally purchase your list from a reputable source. The more careful you are in analyzing your direct mail lists, the better your chance for success.
  • Deliver a clear message: A direct mail campaign should visually engage your audience and create an emotional response within a few seconds. State a clear message, incentivize your patient and promote a call to action which will drive the patient to contact you easily and quickly — offer, suggest, encourage and evoke a response.
  • Design is the key: Let a professional designer help you select images, fonts, colors and layouts that best reflect your practice brand in a consistent manner. Visually engaging campaigns create a feeling of trust and encourage the audience to take action. Support your campaign with online tools, such as analytics, call tracking and contact form to better understand your return on investment.

Have you ever done a direct mail campaign? How did it go?

Volunteers sought for Navy humanitarian missions

According to ADA News, the University of California San Diego Pre-Dental Society nongovernmental organization seeks civilian volunteers for U.S. Navy hospital ship humanitarian mission trips from April through September 2015.

The USNS Mercy will travel to Southeast Asia and the Oceania Islands, with stops in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Philippines, Micronesia and Vietnam. A smaller ship will make stops in Kiribati, Micronesia, Solomon Islands, Philippines and Vietnam. The USNS Comfort will travel to the Caribbean, Central and South America with stops planned stops in Belize, Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Colombia, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Haiti. This is the first time both hospital ships will be on humanitarian missions at the same time, and the first U.S. Navy mission trip since 2012.

“These missions change the lives of participants from our nation, partner nations and host nations,” said Dr. Irvin B. Silverstein, UCSD Pre-Dental Society director. “Our participants have been able to help with and see some amazing things and bring friendship, understanding and build closer relationships with different people in the world. These are not just humanitarian missions. They help forge diplomatic ties and help create friendships.”

UCSD Pre-Dental Society seeks dentists, physicians, pharmacists, optometrists, nurses, dental hygienists, dental assistants, medical assistants, medical and dental lab technicians, pharmacy techs, physical therapists, biomedical repair technicians, sonographers, translators, educators, engineers and all other health-related professionals.

Both ships will leave about April 1. The pre-dental society NGO will serve as a civilian partner in the Navy’s humanitarian missions.

Volunteers can choose the length of time and countries in which they will serve. Professionals must serve at least two weeks; technicians and assistants must serve at least four weeks. Preference will go to those who can volunteer for longer periods. Volunteers must pay for their transportation to and from the ship. Once aboard the ship, the Navy will cover volunteer expenses, including food and lodging.

Request an application via e-mail at ucsdpds.missions@gmail.com or dsilverstein22@cox.net as soon as possible to begin the credentialing process.

Working with a marketing firm

After buying the practice where he had been an associate in a few years ago, Dr. Ash Vasanthan wanted to start from scratch when it came to rebuilding his brand.

“I had a client base and an active website, but I wanted to rebrand myself,” said Dr. Vasanthan, a periodontist who has been practicing for 5 years in Roseville, California.

Dr. Vasanthan  In January 2013, he started working with PBHS, the ADA Business Resources-endorsed website design and practice marketing firm.

Working with a graphic designer, one of his first decision was choosing colors, which led to the creation of his practice’s logo. Both colors and logo are used throughout his practice, from his website and stationary to letterheads and coffee mugs.

Meanwhile, PBHS also built Dr. Vasanthan’s website — which, for people searching for periodontists in his area, is now the top result online.

“Everything had to be very precise,” he said, when it came to working with PBHS. “Building my brand was a defining moment for me because I was a new business owner.”

Dr. Vasanthan spoke with ADA New Dentist News to share some suggestions and advice for making the most out of working a marketing firm.

Call around

“PBHS isn’t the only marketing firm around,” Dr. Vasanthan said. “But dentists need to do their research to find the best firm for their needs. I really wanted a company that would take me and say, ‘We can brand you, we can start from scratch.’

“I zeroed in on PBHS because I felt they would be able to provide me with what I was looking for. It’s also a good idea to just call around. I partly chose PBHS because their customer service was great. I never reached a machine.  Jay Levine, PBHS president, was always available and accessible to answer any questions despite being the very busy.”

When it came to building a website, which Dr. Vasanthan considers his top marketing tool, he compared the construction of a house.

“If you want a beautiful, sturdy house, you have to find the best builder in town for you,” he said. “I called a few places, visited several websites and asked friends for recommendations before I found the one.”

Consider your budget

“For new dentists starting a practice, you have to spend money on so many things on top of trying to repay student loans,” Dr. Vasanthan said. “For me, I didn’t go for PBHS’ top tier offerings. I went with somewhere in the middle. I would tell new dentists to really look at what you’re getting for what you’re paying. Sometimes, you don’t have to choose the most expensive package or service to be happy and to get the results you want.”

Get a website

Dr. Vasanthan said his main focus when he hired a marketing firm was to increase his Web presence.

“My website is my number one marketing tool. It’s my face on the Internet,” he said. “When starting a new practice, it’s important to have a website immediately. I would say it’s only second to having a phone number set up for the office. A potential patient can only reach you 8-5 on the phone. A website allows them to access you 24/7.”

Make things easier for patients

Just because a website or a successful marketing strategy help potential patients find you easier, it should also make things more convenient for them, Dr. Vasanthan said.

“The simplest thing a new dentist can do is to have a responsive Web design with a fill-able patient registration available online,” he said.

Dr. Vasanthan’s website allows potential patients to fill out and submit new patient registration forms when making an appointment. This way, the patient doesn’t have to fill it out at the office and it helps his practice track how many new patients are coming in due to his Web marketing.

Stay involved

When it came to the designing your brand, you have to be very involved, Dr. Vasanthan said. He worked exclusively with Alejandro Salazar, a PBHS graphic designer, who translated his vision into art and helped design his logo, business cards, letterheads, etc.  Dr. Vasanthan said he is extremely proud to hand out his business cards just because of the many times he gets complimented on the design and the quality.

“I put my logo on everything. I’m very proud to show it off. To me, being able to explicitly express what I wanted or looking for was very, very important,” Dr. Vasanthan said. “What you’re doing should reflect who you are.”

Have ideas for the ADA’s Center for Professional Success?

The Center for Professional Success is a members-only Web resource that provides practice management information, online education and support tools to help you manage your career.Center for Professional Success

They are currently seeking new members for their Center for Professional Success users group. You will help determine the direction of the Center’s content. What are your major practice concerns? What tools do you need to improve your practice?

If you are interested in learning more about the user group or becoming a member, email Sarah Hughes at hughess@ada.org. The deadline to apply is Dec. 19.

 

Log on to Success.ADA.org for valuable resources

The ADA Center for Professional Success, Success.ADA.org, is a unique web portal for dentists in every practice setting who want to succeed as dental practitioners.

Resources include frequently asked questions about dental codes; information on Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance issues; financial calculators for loan and overhead analysis; in-person and online educational opportunities; and guidance for new dentists on how to understand employment agreements before they sign on the dotted line.

The ultimate goal of the Center is to provide accurate answers to specific questions members have helping them balance their professional careers with their personal lives.

Pick up practice management skills from the comfort of your own office

The ADA Center for Professional Success recommended some ways for new dentists to pick up practice management skills from the comfort of their own office or home, and earn continuing education credits at the same time.

Center for Professional Success

  • Improve your own organization: Use the SMART goal process to learn to set organizational objectives to help improve the efficiency of your office. Evaluate your external and internal strengths and obstacles that factor in your goal attainment. Develop new habits and processes that will result in a smoother, more efficient work environment each and every day. It’s free for ADA members. To learn more, click here.
  • Interested in peer review? Peer review is a way to address the issues of quality oral health care for our patients in a self-regulating manner. It is a dispute resolution program that is based on our ethical obligations as dentists to provide our patients with the best care possible in each situation. This course outlines the administrative aspects, the differences among different systems and an overall look at how to best structure a system that is confidential, consistent and easily accessible. It is free for ADA members. To learn more, click here.
  • Other courses available: ADA CE online offers a number of courses for member dentists. Take time to browse through the selection, and find the perfect class to suit your needs. To learn more, click here.

ADA launches new dental student Web portal

The ADA launched this month a new Web portal designed to provide a one-stop shop for dental students seeking information, ranging from financial resources to finding a job.

ADA for Dental StudentsThe portal ADA for Dental Students can be found at ADA.org/student or can be accessed via the Member Center on ADA.org.

The portal provides dental students easy access to a variety of ADA resources and benefits, including information on dental careers and finding a job, financial planning and student loan debt, dental licensure and examinations, professional ethics, and more!

The portal will be regularly updated with new and noteworthy information and resources. For more information, contact the ADA Office of Student Affairs at studentaffairs@ada.org.

Maintaining a positive online reputation

Do you know what your patients are saying about you? Your online reputation depends on whether and/or how you react to what people say about your services.

Today, according to the ADA Center for Professional Success, many patients investigate your office prior to an initial appointment using Google, Yelp, and many other review and research sources. Make sure you are doing everything you can to maintain a positive online reputation.

PBHSADA Business Resources and Protective Business and Health Systems (PBHS) recently hosted a webinar on managing your online reputation. A recording of the seminar along with the question and answer section is now available for ADA members.

In this webinar Jay Levine, president of PBHS, offered tips and best practices to monitor your public reputation and take a proactive approach to addressing online reviews. To view the webinar, accessible to ADA members, click here.

This information is provided courtesy of PBHS, the only marketing company endorsed by ADA Business Resources. Learn more about PBHS, click here or by calling 855.932.4232.

 

ADA executive program in dental practice management

According to the ADA Center for Professional Success, new dentists can match their passion for dentistry with a mind for business with the ADA’s Executive Program in Dental Practice Management.

Launched in September, this Web-based program takes on the tough practice management challenges today’s dentists must master, such as reducing costs, enhancing marketing strategies and practicing amid increased regulation.

Center for Professional SuccessDental practice management experts and first-rate business lectures from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business — all carefully selected by the ADA for certificate fulfillment — merge to provide a comprehensive six-course certificate program in disciplines crucial to practice success. The first three to be available are:

• Legal and Ethical Issues in Dental Practice
• Negotiation and Conflict Management
• Understanding Leadership

And following soon will be:

• Business Strategy and Systems
• Dental Team Management
• Financial Management

Accessible by desktop, Internet-enabled mobile device, MP3 and MP4 formats, the state-of-the-art online classroom is available anytime and anywhere, with around-the-clock technical support. Participants will also be able to earn continuing education credits when appropriate from those classes which apply, but must take the entire sixty hour series to earn the certificate.

Whether you have your own practice or aspire to do so, it’s time to complement your clinical expertise with skills for the business side of dentistry. To register, click here.