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Peer Review Resources from the ADA

open mouthThe peer review system is a voluntary process for resolving disputes between a patient and a dentist outside of a legal venue or the “court of public opinion.” The ADA promotes peer review as an option to the public at MouthHealthy.org, and dentists may encourage dissatisfied patients to consider initiating the process as a way of settling a disagreement.

Access the complete range of ADA peer review resources online at ADA.org.

Working on the Weekend?

Pocket watches in a bunchWhen it comes to work/life balance, one common piece of advice is to avoid working on the weekends whenever possible. But productivity writer and blogger Laura Vanderkam, writing on the Fast Company blog, suggests that work on the weekends might just be the key to a successful work/life balance.

Working on weekends is the flipside of having flexibility during the week, notes Vanderkam. Taking the time during the week to have dinner with your family or attend a child’s event might create a deficit in your number of working hours, and it makes sense to fill that gap over the weekend.

Of course not everyone uses Saturday and Sunday as days off — we’ve chatted with numerous dentists who see patients on one or both of those days. What about you — do you ever take time on your days off to catch up on paperwork or address other work obligations? Leave your answers in the comments.

Tackling a Tough Challenge? Know your Conative Style (and Find a Friend)

New Dentist ReceptionWhether you are tackling a new year’s resolution, juggling a change in your home or work life, or facing another challenge, you probably have a preferred conation.

Conation is a concept developed by Kathy Kolbe, a specialist in learning strategies, and it refers to the way you like to tackle a task. Kolbe identified four conative styles:

  • “Quick starters” swing into action, using trial and error.
  • “Fact finders” need information and research
  • “Follow through-ers” use methodical systems
  • “Implementers” figure things out by building models or using tools.

It’s easy to see how a conative strength could also be a weakness — for instance a fact finder could become stuck in “analysis paralysis.”

Author and blogger Martha Beck suggests that we often have friends who share our own conative styles, so the solution is to find a friend (or a group) with a different conative style. For instance, if you are a fact finder, you might benefit from chatting with a quick starter in order to get your project off the ground. Beck asserts that she never starts a new project without building a team of friends with different conative strengths.

If you are looking for a group of dentist friends it’s a good idea to attend a local meeting. And it’s a great idea to attend the 28th Annual New Dentist Conference  July 17-19, 2014, where you can get to know colleagues from across the country who are tackling the same challenges you may be facing.

What’s your conative style? Leave your answer in the comments.

What to do when Delegating Goes Wrong

NegotiationWhen we talk with new dentists, one challenge comes up frequently — the difficulty in getting comfortable with delegating. But whether you own a practice or work for one, there is simply no way to do it all yourself.

Over at the HBR blog, Elizabeth Grace Saunders has a series of suggestions for how to delegate effectively. Here’s a tip that caught our attention:

Once you start to let go of control, inevitably there will be a time when something doesn’t get done in the way that you would prefer. Your gut reaction will lead you to blame yourself for letting go — “Why did I ever let anyone else do this?” – which typically manifests on the surface as anger toward or frustration with others. But instead of immediately putting the work back on your agenda, transform this situation into an opportunity for learning. First, evaluate whether you could do anything differently in the future. Second, help the people who did the work understand what they need to know to complete the work successfully next time. Often you don’t know what went wrong until you really dig in.

What is your best advice for someone new to delegating tasks? Share your answers in the comments.

What Comes Before Leading Others?

Thanks to the local arrangements committee for helping to make last year's conference a success!

Thanks to the local arrangements committee for helping to make last year’s conference a success!

We are hard at work making plans for the upcoming 28th ADA New Dentist Conference. The conference offers a full day of leadership programming, and that’s why this post by Kaan Turnali over at Forbes caught our attention. He recaps several famous leaders and their personal qualities — they inspire, they motivate, they instill confidence:

But it’s easy to forget, or fail to note at all, that these leaders have one other thing in common: They all had to lead themselves before leading others.

Leading oneself to inspiring one’s own heart and discipline one’s own ego is the first step any great leader takes before embarking on a great leadership role. The backgrounds of all great leaders reveal struggles that molded their character, helping them conquer fears and doubts, and making them more passionate and resilient.

Turnali goes on to say that leadership isn’t something that only happens when we are in the driver’s seat, but that it is an attitude that we practice repeatedly so that when we are asked to drive, we can take the wheel with confidence.

If you’d like to increase your capacity to lead, please join us at the 28th ADA New Dentist Conference taking place in Kansas City, Missouri July 17-19, 2014 at Sheraton Kansas City, Crown Center (mark your calendar). In addition to a full day of leadership development, the Conference includes:

  • hands-on endodontic and implant CE courses at UMKC School of Dentistry
  • Friday night social event at KC Live! In the Power & Light District
  • breakfast-and-learn sessions; all-inclusive lunches

See you in Kansas City!

Helping Patients “Dejar de Fumar”

burning sigaretteIt’s time for New Year’s Resolutions, and for many smokers and spit tobacco users January 1 is when they try (or try again) to become tobacco-free.

The ADA’s consumer site MouthHealthy.org has a section on smoking and tobacco — feel free to share the link with patients who have resolved to kick the habit.

And don’t forget — the resources of MouthHealthy.org, including the section on smoking and tobacco, are available in both English and Spanish.

Create a User’s Manual about Yourself for your Team

Young girl using tabletWe’ve written before about using employee agreements to clarify expectations between the practice and the dental team. So we were interested when we read on The Build Network about a corporate strategist who developed a one-page user’s manual to help his new employees understand how to work with him effectively.

Check out the original post for a series of questions to ask (and answer) for developing a user’s manual:

  • What are my expectations for commitment to the job beyond conventional work hours?
  • What are my idiosyncrasies—that is, what are the individual quirks that anyone working with me should know about?
  • What weaknesses of mine should the team know about — and how can they help me improve?
  • What is my process for handling conflicts?
  • When it comes to mistakes, what’s the best way for employees to come forward?

Seems like this could be helpful when it comes to bringing new team members up to speed with your working style and preferences. After all, over time it becomes second nature to know how different personalities interact, but a shortcut could accelerate that process.

What about you — what has been your approach to letting the dental team know how you prefer to work? Leave your answers in the comments.

Fight Decision Fatigue and be More Effective

checklistDoes this scenario sound familiar? At the end of a day full of making decisions and answering questions, someone asks what you want for dinner and you realize I have no idea what I would like to eat for dinner.

The term for this is decision fatigue and it refers to the idea that decision making is like a muscle that can get tired with over-use. Every choice makes you a little less able to make the next choice, until you are unable to decide about supper.

Blogger James Clear has some suggestions about tactics you can implement to fight decision fatigue. Here’s one that attracted our attention:

Plan daily decisions the night before. There will always be decisions that pop up each day that you can’t plan for. That’s fine. It’s just part of life. But for most of us, the decisions that drain us are the ones that we make over and over and over again.  For example, decisions like…What am I going to wear to work? What should I eat for breakfast? Should I go to the dry cleaner before or after work? And so on.

All of those examples can be decided in 3 minutes or less the night before, which means you won’t be wasting your willpower on those choices the next day. Taking time to plan out, simplify, and design the repeated daily decisions will give you more mental space to make the important choices each day.

What about you—how do you keep yourself sharp in the face of countless decisions? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

Ethics, Dental Exams and Documents

open mouthIn the December 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) a reader asks:

A patient came to our office with a complaint of dental pain. He had not been to the office for two years for any type of examination or treatment.

The patient brought along a form from his employer. He requested that I sign the form after I performed the examination. The form stated that the patient had received a preventive dental examination.

Signing this form would allow the patient to receive more insurance coverage at lower cost from his employer for preventive care. What should I do?

You may be surprised by the answer (ADA Members have access to the complete online archive of JADA including the regular ethical moment column.)

Facing a thorny ethical issue yourself? The ADA ethics hotline is an easy, confidential way for ADA members to get some advice on next steps when navigating an ethical dilemma.

The hotline doesn’t provide legal guidance. Instead it provides a fresh perspective through a consultation with a member of the ADA Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs (CEBJA.)

To access this ADA member benefit, call the toll-free number on your ADA member card and request the ethics hotline. After confirming your membership, you’ll be transferred to a voicemail system and asked to provide some information about your issue.

You’ll receive a personal telephone call from a member of CEBJA. This dentist will then discuss the application of the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct to your situation. The goal is for you to receive a response within two or three days. However, if you request a rapid response, volunteers and staff will work to accommodate your request.

And you are encouraged to familiarize yourself with the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct.

Negative Feedback and the Performance Review

NegotiationIt’s December and for many organizations, that means performance reviews and appraisals. If you are the boss, this might be the time of year when you provide feedback to your team. And if you are an employee, this might be the time when you are on the receiving end of an evaluation.

Over at the Fast Company blog, Celia Shatzman has posted 8 Questions to Ask your Boss that can Make or Break your Career. The post draws heavily from the book Great on the Job: What to Say, How to Say It: The Secrets of Getting Ahead by Jodi Glickman. Question #8 attracted our attention:

“I’m sure that I’ll have some additional thoughts and questions as I digest all this information. Could we schedule a follow-up conversation in a few days?”

When to ask: At the end of a not-so-great performance review or any conversation wherein your boss gives you valuable, if not altogether positive, feedback.

Why it’s important to ask: It’s hard to think on your feet and ask constructive questions when you’re feeling beat up. By asking for a few days to collect your thoughts, you’ll have time to reflect on your boss’s words and brainstorm ways to move ahead. “The last thing you want to do is lose your cool,” says Glickman. “Remember, the goal of feedback is not to make you feel good. It’s to make you better at your job.”

Seems as though this would also apply if you were the one delivering the negative feedback—you might propose that the two of you meet again in a few days for a follow-up conversation.

What has been your experience with negative feedback, either on the giving or receiving side? Share your observations in the comments.