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Helping You Succeed as a Dentist

Are you interested in learning about the different types of group practices?

Learn more about the different types of group practices in videos posted on the ADA Center for Professional Success website.

Center for Professional SuccessDentists from three different practice group models spoke at ADA 2014 — America’s Dental Meeting in San Antonio about their organization’s structure, management, patient care and more. In 2014, the ADA Health Policy Institute proposed a classification system for group practices and a nomenclature that would more specifically describe them.

The videos include presentations on group practices that are dentist-owned and operated; affiliated with a dental management organization affiliated; insurer-provider; not-for-profit; and government agencies.

The presentations are available here.

Integrating checklists into your practice is key to get things right

Time outs are performed minutes before a procedure begins. In dentistry, this is commonly done before an extraction or a root canal. Do I have the right patient? Is the correct radiograph displayed? Is the necessary equipment present? Do I know which tooth? How often do we breeze through this checklist or not read it at all?

Dr. Carolyn Norton

Dr. Carolyn Norton

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande shows how checklists which identify critical steps or points of failure can make up for our own human inadequacies. Checklists don’t stop at the example above. As the volume of dental procedures I preform increases every day, I have developed my own mental checklists to make sure I’m working efficiently and producing quality dentistry. Even your morning huddle is a checklist.

In 2001, a central line placement checklist was implemented at Johns Hopkins Hospital by critical care specialist Peter Pronovost. Nurses were allowed to intervene if they saw a doctor not following the checklist. After two years of data collection, the central line infection rate went from 11 percent to zero. Dr. Pronovost found that checklists, “establish a higher standard of baseline performance, help with memory recall, and set the minimum necessary steps in a process.”

When the World Health Organization (WHO) contacted Gawande in 2006 to help create a solution to prevent death and/or harm in surgery throughout the world with no funding, Gawande went to visit a master of checklists, Daniel Boorman from the Boeing Company. Aviation heavily relies on checklists. “Only 1 in 500,000 flights ever suffers an accident of any kind.” Was your last flight delayed for 45 minutes due to maintenance? Someone was using a checklist.

Mr. Boorman says checklists must be “precise and to the point. They do not try to spell out everything — a checklist cannot fly a plane.” He suggests keeping the list between five and nine items. It should take no more than 60 to 90 seconds to run the list. “You must define a clear pause point at which the checklist is supposed to be used.” My favorite part of this book: a checklist for making checklists is provided in the appendix.

Dr. Gawande’s WHO safe surgery checklist included seven checks before anesthesia, seven checks before the first incision, and five checks before removing the patient from the operatory. The effect of their safe surgery checklist was studied in eight hospitals around the world. In every hospital, complication rates fell 36 percent and deaths fell 47 percent. Seventy eight percent of hospital staff “actually observed the checklist to have prevented an error in the operating room.” When asked if they wanted the checklist used if they were to have surgery, 93 percent of hospital staff said “yes.”

After reading Dr. Gawande’s book I see checklists all around me, and I believe they work. No one is perfect, and checklists are great tools to help even doctors to get things right. “The volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably. Knowledge has both saved us and burdened us.”

How do you use checklists in your dental practice? Share your best ideas and checklists with us below.

 

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.

 

IHS dental externship applications due Feb. 28

For dental students wondering whether a career with the Indian Health Service Division of Oral Health or a position at a specific IHS or Tribal site is right for you, an IHS externship can give you the experience to help make your decision.

IHSThe IHS Division of Oral Health (DOH) is currently accepting applications for 2015 Dental Externships. If you are seeking a life-changing cultural and pre-professional experience, we encourage you to apply. The application cycle is open from Jan. 2 to Feb. 28.

According to IHS.gov, externs will have the opportunities to work in the state-of-the-art facilities, in a career position with excellent pay and benefits, Loan Repayment Program, job stability, potential for advancement and mentoring by experienced staff, and the opportunity to provide much-needed care to appreciative patients.

For more information on IHS dental externships and how to apply, click here.

10 steps to starting a Head Start program in your office

Head Start began as a summer program in 1965 and serves the nation’s most vulnerable children. It focuses on school readiness with inclusion of medical, dental, nutrition and mental health.

Action for Dental HealthAction for Dental Health has created a basic 10-step process to launching your own Head Start program in your dental office.

In essence, the 10 steps are:

  • Step 1: Call the local Community Action Agency and speak with the director about oral exam federal compliance opportunities.
  • Step 2: Discuss with local officials (county commissioners) what percentage of their Head Start children have received dental exams and what more can be done.
  • Step 3: Arrange appropriate follow-up care for those children identified with dental needs.
  • Step 4: Present in-services on early childhood decay to local pediatricians/family medicine staff and promote the need for caries risk assessment, anticipatory guidance and referrals to establish a dental home.
  • Step 5: Become a registered state dental Medicaid provider.
  • Step 6: Meet with community leaders from United Way, local foundations or faith-based communities to discuss health needs/support for young children to access dental exams.
  • Step 7: Discuss opportunities to partner with local business community in holding events aimed at Head Start children receiving dental screening services and oral health education.
  • Step 8: Utilize local dental society meetings to coordinate Head Start screenings and follow-up care.
  • Step 9: Evaluate the success of the program.
  • Step 10: Visit the Women, Infant, Children Department (WIC) in the local health department or county offices and determine need for children under age 5 to have dental exams.

To read more on the 10 steps to starting a Head Start program in your office, click here. For more information, contact Dr. Jane Gover, director of the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations at groverj@ada.org. For more information on Action for Dental Health, visit ADA.org/action.

Editors’ Pick: Favorite New Dentist Now blog posts of 2014

It’s been an eventful 2014 for New Dentist Now as it continues to feature resources for new dentists and dental students, along with news and insight on the dental profession and beyond.

Just in case you missed them, here’s a look back to some of our favorite and most popular blog posts of the year.

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.