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You and your 168 Hours

Pocket watches in a bunch

How much time is there?

Ever get the feeling that there just isn’t enough time in your 24-hour day to accomplish everything that needs to get done? While most of us think in terms of the 24-hour day, author Laura Vanderkam suggests that it might be more effective to multiply that day by seven and think instead about the 168 hours available in each week. Over at the Happy Monday blog, Danilo Vargas breaks down the numbers:

Think about it this way:

168 hours minus 56 hours (for sleep) minus 50 hours for work (including a 2-hour commute each day) leaves you with 62 hours to spend however you wish.

And in those 62 hours you can:

  • Spend real quality time with the kids: 7 hours
  • Exercise: 7 hours
  • Household chores: 17.5 hours

And after all that, you’d still have 30.5 hours each week to spend however you see fit.

We don’t know that we’ve ever devoted a full 17.5 hours/week to household chores, but the idea of thinking about time in this way is interesting. In her book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think Vanderkam suggests that the first step is to log your time so that you can see how you really do use your 168 hours.

What about you? We know that many practice management software programs have time tracking features that provide information about clinical productivity — do you find that information useful? Have you tried similar time-tracking outside of clinic? Share your experiences in the comments.

Prepare for a Successful Practice Partnership

Practice Partnership

Practice Partnership

Whether you are looking to become an associate or take on an equity stake in a practice, successful partnerships don’t just happen—they take effort and planning. Here are four tips adapted from ADA New Dentist News:

Check for Shared Philosophies Managed care or fee-for-service? Limited hours with lots of flexibility, or an intense schedule with patients from dawn to dusk? Excellent dentists vary in their approaches to delivering quality patient care, so make sure you and your potential partner are on the same page.

Have a Trial Period If you are looking to buy or build a partnership as equals, use your initial meetings to gauge your compatibility—does agreement come easily or do you differ significantly even in the planning stages? For employer/employee relationships, like an associateship, 90 days is a typical time period for both parties to get to know each other and have the opportunity to reconsider the arrangement if necessary.

Identify How You Want to Approach Decisions While you can’t predict tomorrow, you should assume that the future will bring change, and it’s helpful to have a framework in place for how you will handle those changes, especially those that could impact the income of the practice. What will you do if only one partner wants to decrease hours, buy the latest technology, or stop practicing altogether?

Communicate Expectations for the Whole Team The staff might be concentrating on keeping one dentist busy, rather than all of the partners—not a good idea! Especially when there is a partnership between a seasoned dentist and a newer dentist, it’s important to clarify the chain of command in the practice. For instance, “On the days when I’m out and Dr. Smith is in the office, she has the authority to modify the work schedules for the team.”

What about you — is there something you wish you had considered before forming a partnership? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

Life as a New Dentist — General Practice Residency

Dr. B. Alexandra Barton

Dr. B. Alexandra Barton

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

Who are you? I’m Dr. B. Alexandra Barton, a proud member of the Class of 2013 of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry, and I’m currently enrolled in a twelve-month General Practice Residency (GPR) at Denver Health Medical Center in Denver.

If you could have any job OTHER THAN dentistry what would it be? I wanted to go into broadcast journalism — I even took some courses in undergrad. But while it was easy for me to see myself anchoring one of the morning news shows, I couldn’t sell myself on a work day that starts at 3 a.m.

How did you choose this program? I wanted a GPR program that would give me more experience in endodontics and pediatric dentistry. Of the different programs where I interviewed, this one seemed to offer the most opportunities in these two areas and so far the program has lived up to my expectations!

What’s your schedule like? There are seven of us who are residents, and we attend lectures once or twice a week. But mostly I’m here from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Once a week I’m on-call in the evenings and then I’m on-call over the weekend every six or seventh week.

I was surprised at how often I actually get called in when I’m on-call. This facility is the #1 trauma hospital in the state, so most patients in the area get sent to our emergency department.

What are you doing for fun? Lots of outdoor music and festivals. The mountains and hiking trails are an easy drive from the city, and Colorado has some excellent breweries that I’ve been exploring with my fellow residents!

Any advice for someone considering a GPR? Funny you should ask! Last year at this time I was just starting the application process for residency programs, but I wasn’t fully convinced that I was going to actually enroll in one—I gave serious thought to going straight into an associateship.

Fast forward to today, and I’m really happy I chose this additional year of training. I can tell it’s going to be so much easier to transition into private practice than if I had gone straight from dental school. I’m getting real world experience working with an assistant, using a dental lab, and I’m getting faster at certain procedures. Additionally, I’m exposed to a much different set of procedures in this setting than I was in dental school. I work with the oral surgeons on the bigger trauma cases, but I’ve had the opportunity to do splints, incisions and drainage, that sort of thing. And of course, it’s great that I can bounce ideas off my fellow residents and the program director.

What are your plans for after you complete this program? I’m hoping to stay in Denver, assuming I can find an associateship here, so I’ve been networking with the Colorado Dental Association and getting involved with their new dentist committee.

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.

Spend a Haunted Halloween in New Orleans

Follow the New Dentist Track at Annual Session

Follow the New Dentist Track at Annual Session

Don’t miss your chance to partake in the revelry during Halloween weekend in New Orleans. From haunted houses to costume parades, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!After earning your CE credits, hop on over to the 2013 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, aka Voodoo Fest. Headliners include Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, Kid Rock, Calvin Harris, Bassnector, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and more!

The ADA New Dentist Committee wants you to 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 including information about:

  • New Dentist Reception (exclusively for new dentists and dental students)
  • Distinguished Speaker Series — President Bill Clinton
  • Mission of Mercy event

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

Add IF and THEN to your To-Do Lists


Implementation intentions

Have you ever put something on your to-do list, only to find that it’s still on the list days or even weeks later? To be honest that kind of delayed action can be a problem for us, so we got interested when we came across this suggestion from Heidi Grant Halvorson at the HBR Blog:

What you need is if-then planning (or what psychologists call “implementation intentions”).

This particular form of planning is a really powerful way to help you achieve any goal. Nearly 200 studies, on everything from diet and exercise to negotiation and time management, have shown that deciding in advance when and where you will complete a task (e.g., “If it is 4pm, then I will return any phone calls I should return today”) can double or triple your chances of actually doing it.

So take the tasks on your to-do list, and add a specific when and where to each. For example, “Remember to call Bob” becomes “If it is Tuesday after lunch, then I’ll call Bob.” Now that you’ve created an if-then plan for calling Bob, your unconscious brain will start scanning the environment, searching for the situation in the “if” part of your plan. This enables you to seize the critical moment and make the call, even when you are busy doing other things.

We’ve talked before about to-do lists, and we’re always interested in optimizing these basic tools. Any tips that you’ve found to be especially effective? IF you have a useful suggestion THEN leave it in the comments.

Ready to Take your New Dentist Committee to the Next Level?

New dentist workshop at the Greater St. Louis Dental Society

New dentist workshop at the Greater St. Louis Dental Society

Whether you are looking for a basic workshop to get off to a good start, or an advanced workshop, customized to meet your group’s needs, an ADA New Dentist Committee Workshop can help you elevate your connection to new dentists to the next level!

Both the basic and advanced workshops are designed for current and prospective members of your New Dentist Committee, as well as society leaders who work with or have an interest in the activities of the committee. The workshops are conducted by ADA staff in conjunction with the district representatives from the ADA New Dentist Committee.

There is no charge for workshops. The ADA pays for all of the speakers’ expenses, and the society hosting the meeting is requested to provide continental breakfast and lunch for the attendees as well as a location for the program.

To Schedule a Workshop or For More Information Please contact the ADA New Dentist Committee office at newdentist@ada.org.

How to Promote your Accomplishments when Working for Someone Else

open mouthUnlike dental school, where assignments, expectations and evaluations are clear-cut, working as an employee offers fewer opportunities for you to get clear feedback on your performance. You’ll need to keep your boss informed about what a great job you are doing, but how to accomplish that without coming across as a blowhard?

Over at The Daily Muse blog, Allison Jones tackles that question in her post How to Brag at Work (Without Sounding Like a Jerk). Of course in order to promote your successes, you’ll need to keep track of them. Jones suggests monitoring your goals and achievements on a quarterly basis, maintaining a journal of accomplishments and one suggestion that was new to us:

Take a look at your job description. For each duty, say to yourself, “I know I am doing this well because…” and list a specific example that illustrates your success.

This got us wondering about those of you working as employee dentists — do you have a written job description? And for those of you answering no what method do you and your boss use to make sure you are in alignment with each other? Share your answers in the comments:

Learning Labs and Super Sessions in New Orleans

Follow the New Dentist Track at Annual Session

Discover more about women in dentistry and geriatric patient care at the Learning Labs at Annual Session.

The Learning Labs are new, interactive courses where dentists can exchange ideas and dialogue with their peers in a small group environment. Participants will receive two hours of CE credit and there is no fee to participate in the learning labs. Space is limited so sign up today.

In the related Super Sessions, sketches, audio commentary and photos of the discussions held in the Learning Labs will be shared so a broader audience can reflect and continue the dialogue. Participants will receive one hour of CE credit and there is no fee.

If you are interested in the topic, you may sign up for either the Learning Lab, the Super Session, or both!

Two topics are scheduled for 2013:

Issues Impacting Women in Dentistry (Course # 6101), Nov. 1 from 9-11 a.m.

Dr. Linda Niessen will host this Learning Lab — a participant-led discussion to explore experiences, challenges and discoveries as women in dentistry. A Super Session (Course #7336) is scheduled for Nov. 1 from 11 a.m.-noon.

Special Care Issues in Geriatric Patient Care (Course #5188), Oct. 31 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. or (Course #5189) from 3-5 p.m.

Dr. Gretchen Gibson will host these Learning Labs — a participant-led discussion on treating elderly patients and explore how to improve care for the older adult population. A Super Session (Course #7335) is scheduled for Nov. 2 from 9:45-10:45 a.m.

Marketing the Dental Practice — Community Involvement

Dr Alexa Vitek

Dr Alexa Vitek

Getting involved in your community can be a great way to give back, as well as raise awareness of your practice and bring patients to your door. But with so many deserving causes and different opportunities, it can be a challenge to direct your energy to where it will be most effective.

In March 2013 ADA New Dentist News spoke with a number of new dentists about how they used community involvement as a practice builder. Dr. Alexa Vitek, who built a general dentistry practice from scratch in DeWitt, Michigan, talked about the importance of getting people who could be potential patients into the practice. Here’s what she said:

“I had great success donating custom whitening trays for a silent auction fundraiser,” she recalls, “it literally put new people in my chair.”

Dr. Vitek also organizes events for the merchants in the shopping center where her practice is located, including a holiday prize drawing. “Prize winners come to my practice to pick up their prizes, presenting another opportunity for someone to see firsthand how friendly and welcoming our practice is.”

What about you—have you used community involvement as a way to build interest in your dental practice? Leave your suggestions and experiences in the comments.