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Use Visualization the Correct Way in order to Build a New Habit


Use visualization to build a new habit

Perhaps you’ve heard the advice that a good way to increase your likelihood of success is to visualize yourself succeeding. Sure it’s fun to fantasize about winning that award or fitting into those skinny jeans, but is that really increasing your effectiveness at meeting those goals?

Over at the 99u blog, Gregory Ciotti wrote about the role of visualization in building habits that stick. Turns out that fantasizing about results is not very helpful, but visualizing the steps necessary to get those results can make a difference:

Researchers found that those participants who engaged in visualizations that included the process of what needed to be done to achieve the goal (ex: fantasizing about learning another language, by visualizing themselves practicing every day after work) were more likely to stay consistent than their peers (that visualized themselves speaking French on a trip to Paris). The visualization process worked for two reasons:

  • Planning: visualizing the process helped focus attention on the steps needed to reach the goal.
  • Emotion: visualization of individual steps led to reduced anxiety.

 We think a lot about developing habits, especially those that can help patients improve their oral health. Have you had success with coaching patients to adopt healthy habits? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

Dentistry and (the Dentist’s) Discomfort—Ergonomics

back or neck pain?

Back or neck pain?

According to data collected at the ADA Health Screening Program at the 2012 Annual Session in San Francisco, 70 percent of dentists and dental team members examined reported neck or back pain. That’s not too surprising considering the positions many dentists adopt when working.

Ergonomics is the science of the physical relationship between you and your environment. It means that you adapt tools and procedures to fit you, rather than adapting yourself to fit the environment. The ADA has a number of tip sheets that suggest ergonomic adaptations to help you implement these approaches.

Looking for more ergonomics resources? Check out the Conference on Dentist Health and Well-Being taking place at the ADA Headquarters in Chicago September 19-20. Conference attendees can attend ergonomics workshops and meet one-on-one with physical therapists.

Make the Most out of Your New Orleans Experience

The New Dentist's Guide to the ADA Annual Session Make the most of your experience at the ADA Annual Session October 31-November 3, 2013 in New Orleans. Download this two page PDF that highlights everything you need to get the most from your Annual Session experience:

 Download The New Dentist’s Guide to the ADA Annual Session (PDF)

Haven’t registered yet? Advance registration deadline is Friday, September 20 at 5 p.m. CDT. Register Now.

Not attending this year? Visit ADA 365, the online extension of the Annual Session. Through ADA 365 the ADA will offer live streaming of a variety of Annual Session courses and give you a taste of what attendees experience on-site.

Working with an Attorney—the Time to Negotiate is Before you Start


The time to negotiate is before you start

The August 2013 issue of ADA New Dentist News (ADA new dentist members, look for your copy wrapped around the Aug 19 issue of ADA News) features a story on working with an attorney. Two ADA members who are both licensed dentists and licensed attorneys spoke about how dentists can work effectively with lawyers.

We weren’t able to fit all of the tips into the print piece – here’s something that we are sharing exclusively on the blog. Dr. Lillian Obucina, pointed out that a little advice from an attorney early on can save headaches later. Here’s Dr. Obucina: 

“I see a lot of associates in situations where there is nothing in writing, and there’s a lot of risk with that. I was just talking with an associate-dentist who worked for an owner-dentist for three years. He had said he would let her buy in when he was ready to retire, and now he’s changed his mind. I asked where the contract was and she didn’t have anything—there was no contract.

“At this point there’s no negotiation because the relationship has gone sour. The time to negotiate is before you start. If there is something that is important to you, whether it’s salary or the chance to buy into the practice or a restrictive covenant, don’t assume that you can negotiate those things later on, go ahead and spell that out in writing before you begin. That’s when you have the leverage.

“Sometimes I hear, ‘I can’t bring this up now or I won’t get the position.’ And my response to that is, ‘Maybe that’s for the best. If you can’t be in agreement about this matter that is important to you, then it is probably better to look for a different opportunity.’”

To find more suggestions about working with an attorney, check out the latest edition of ADA New Dentist News.

Leadership: What they don’t teach you in dental school (Part One)

Dr. Jonathan Ford

Dr. Jonathan Ford

by Dr. Jonathan Ford

I recently attended the ADA New Dentist Conference in Denver. The conference had a great mix of continuing education for the young dentist. including a special emphasis on leadership development. Here is part one of the leadership skills that I learned at the ADA New Dentist Conference—I’ll post part two next week.

1.          Always keep learning I had this notion in dental school, that to be successful I needed to put the work in while at school and I could coast once I graduated and had a steady job. Unfortunately, I’ve been sorely mistaken.

To be successful, you have to always be improving yourself and growing. Take classes, listen to lectures, or read books that address and help you improve your weaknesses. But, remember to continue and improve your strengths as well. I recently found a series of blogs and forums that are quick ways to review and refresh my leadership skills (examples: curiousdentist.com and excursives.com)

2.      Mind your words and their impact Do you say thank you to your staff before they leave for the day? I always try and say a quick thanks to close the work day. Do you say “I love you” to your significant other every day? Of course, you do! However, these simple messages might not have the impact as the first time you said them.

One of the speakers talked about the monotony of words. The words may be extremely important (ex. love and thanks), but hearing them over and over again lessens their effect. By changing the words slightly or altering the delivery, the words can have a greater impact and make others feel more appreciated. So, instead of saying thanks on your way out of the office, say thank you to your staff in front of a patient and use specifics. Great job on getting that x-ray!

3.      Have faith in yourself Each of us has core values and principles. As a dentist, you are seen as a leader in your office, whether or not you feel accustomed to that role. Patients definitely look to you as a leader in improving their oral care, or they wouldn’t be coming to you.

It is important to maintain these values and ensure that they don’t waver. Some people call this a mission statement; others call it long term goals. Call it whatever you want, know what your values and principles are, stick to them and other will be drawn to you.


Dr. Jonathan Ford is a general dentist in Huntington Beach, California. He served as the New Dentist Co-Chair for the Orange County Dental Society in 2011 and 2012. He currently serves on the Council for Endorsed Programs for the California Dental Association. You can reach him by emailing him at drjonathan@fordentalgroup.com.

Don’t be the Victim of a Sales Scam

Don't be the victim of a scam

Don’t be the victim of a scam

Recently, ADA News ran a story about fake companies posing as an online Yellow Pages service that have been targeting businesses, including dentists, and saying they owe money for an Internet phone book listing. The scammers then start sending urgent-sounding invoices for hundreds of dollars, threatening to turn the unpaid bill over to a collection agency if the business owner doesn’t pay. You can read more about this scam at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website.

Small businesses, such as dental practices, can be easy targets for fraud. The ADA legal department has created the resource How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Sales Scam to help you recognize these scams and avoid being victimized.

One suggestion — provide your staff with a script to handle high-pressure sales calls:

For example, “I’m not authorized to answer any questions regarding supply orders. I’ll transfer you to our [unnamed] Purchasing Manager.” You should also train employees on how to end calls if the employee designated to make purchases is not available to intercept the phone call. This may help nervous employees follow protocol and avoid being pressured into giving out too much information.

Prohibit unauthorized employees from giving out any information about office equipment or supplies over the phone.

You’ll find more tips, including suggestions for what to do if you think you’ve been the victim of fraud, here.

How do you approach your Lunch Break?

eating lunch at a desk

How do you recharge during lunch?

For starters, we’re assuming that you have blocked off a chunk of time between patients so that you can get a bite to eat. In addition to eating, what do you do with that time? Catch up on paperwork? Chat with a friend? Run some errands?

For productivity expert Bob Pozen, the efficiency gained by eating at your desk might not be worth it if you could gain even more by stepping away. Fast Company blogged about Pozen’s ideas for how to maximize the value of a lunch break:

You could eat alone perhaps away from a screen. Pozen says that since you’ll sometimes have a very full day, eating alone can help you restore your personal resources. And don’t pull out your phone: An absence of stimulation encourages associative or integrative thought, spurring your creativity. As well, if you have an idea that you’re working on in your head, eating alone allows you to continue uninterrupted.

Pozen goes on to say that every individual is different—maybe you would benefit from some exercise or a brief nap (that last option sounds especially appealing)—so it’s smart to experiment with the lunch break that gives you the biggest bang for your buck and leaves you best-prepared for the afternoon.

Any suggestions for using lunch to make the afternoon as effective as the morning? Leave your answers in the comments.

New HIPAA Rules — Are you Ready for September 23?

ADA CE online

New rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) require covered dental practices to make changes to how they comply with the law. The new rules took effect March 26, and dental practices must be in compliance with most of the new rules by Sept. 23.

ADA CE Online is offering a new online course to assist dental practices with compliance. Dental Practice HIPAA Compliance: An Overview of Changes in the 2013 Omnibus Final Rule was developed by the ADA legal division, offers one hour of CE credit and costs $41.00.

For more information on HIPAA, visit hhs.gov/ocr/privacy. And be sure to check out all the free CE courses available to ADA members at ADACEONLINE.org.

Life as a New Dentist—Associate

Dr. Tisha Rekhi enjoying a vacation in San Diego

Dr. Tisha Rekhi enjoying a vacation in San Diego

The ADA is made up of individuals—here’s one of them.

Who are you? I’m Dr. Tisha Rekhi. I’m a member of the Class of 2011 of the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. I’m an associate dentist working for my older brother — Dr. Princy Rekhi — who is the owner-dentist of a three-location practice here in the Greater Seattle area.

 Was your plan always to practice with your brother? Absolutely yes! I’m fortunate to have such an awesome relationship with my brother. He really helped me with that transition from thinking like a student to thinking like a working dentist.

Talk a little bit about that transition You know in school I can remember having a patient who needed two restorations and I would do the procedures in two appointments with each restoration taking like three hours. And that’s not how it goes in the real world. We use different materials than we used in school, I’m working with a chairside assistant now, and that’s not like being a student. I feel like my brother was patient with my learning curve. If I have a problem or question all I have to do is ask and he’s there for me.

That sounds very harmonious Well it took us a little while to get there! I have my own house and my brother has his own house but most of the time we end up having dinner at our parents’ house (it’s a cultural thing—we’re Indian.) He and I would bicker and our parents said, look you can’t stress each other out at work and at home. If you are going to practice dentistry with someone in your family you have to work on those boundaries between work life and home life.

What’s your schedule like? Like I said there are three locations, so I work at #1 on Mondays and Fridays, #2 on Tuesdays and Thursdays and #3 on Wednesdays. Basically I need to pay close attention to what day of the week it is because if I let my mind wander while I’m driving I’ll end up at the wrong location!

Any recommendations for someone in your shoes? Having a great dental team makes all the difference. You are going to be spending a lot of time together so it’s important to enjoy one another’s company. I truly enjoy going to work every day, and I know not everybody is lucky enough to be able to say that!

Interested in sharing your experience as a new dentist? If you are fewer than ten years out of dental school we’d love to hear from you! Contact us at newdentist@ada.org.

Handling Unacceptable Requests from the Dental Team


“I’d like to think about what you’ve just said.”

In the ADA Podcast Be a Great Boss, communications expert Mary Byers suggests a three-part reply for use when an employee makes a request or suggestion that is unacceptable:

  1. I appreciate your input.
  2. I’d like to think about what you’ve just said.
  3. Let’s discuss this tomorrow.

“This allows for a response that is well thought out and not over-reactive,” Byers explains, “and if the response sets precedent, it’s going to be a precedent that the dentist will be comfortable with.”

Be a Great Boss is one of more than twenty audio podcasts produced by the ADA for dentists. Topics include strategic planning, finding and retaining dental team members and using social media. Find all the podcasts at ADA.org/podcasts.