A reflection during a pandemic
My name is Dr. Peter Markov and I am a pediatric dentist and the owner of VK Pediatric Dentistry in Arlington, Virginia. I shut down my practice for three and a half months starting in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nothing during my dental school education, pediatric dentistry residency, or private practice experience could have prepared me for the pandemic and its ongoing effects. However, I have had a unique opportunity to reflect on the situation and to try to find a silver lining through it all.
Remember to take your time:
Our office has limited all appointments to one family at a time, giving us additional time to spend with each family and maintain the highest level of safety possible. Although the pandemic has added stress and financial strain to my practice, it has allowed me time to reflect and grow closer to my patients and their families. It has enabled me to slow down, take a breath and remember why I got into dentistry in the first place – helping children overcome their fears and providing them with a positive experience that will have a life-long impact on their oral health. Having extra time to achieve this, while knowing I am keeping them and their family safe, helps me get through my day with a smile.
You are not alone:
Although dentistry can often feel like a one-person island, just remember, you are not alone. Almost every other business, including the dental office across the street, is experiencing similar challenges – whether it be handling the new requirements, staff stressors, or limitations on PPE supplies. Recently, a local restaurant owner stopped by my office to introduce himself and say hello. He shared that we helped his nephew get through some dental treatment a few months ago and wanted to check in and see how things were going at our office. After our conversation, I had a newfound appreciation for the challenges he was overcoming to get his restaurant up and running. Although dentistry can be a lonely field, we are not alone in the community. Reach out to a neighbor, local business owner, or dentist down the street and let them know they aren’t alone and that you are there if they need anything. Trust me, it will go a long way.
Difficult times lead to creative thinking:
Ask most successful business owners and they will tell you one of the most important aspects of their business success was their ground marketing: getting out there and shaking some hands. Unfortunately, right now, even fist bumps are not allowed. Events are shut down, public gatherings are restricted, and anything that might conventionally work for getting your name out there is difficult to do. Even though the pandemic has brought hardships, it has also inspired generosity and creativity. My office sponsored a local art competition, providing children in the local community an outlet to let their artistic abilities shine. It wasn’t a billable procedure and it didn’t create revenue for the business, but it did make a difference. Do not get stuck in the rut of negativity. See what your neighborhood needs and participate!
In the words of Dr. Seuss: “I learned there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead, others come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see. Now my troubles are going to have trouble with me.”
Dr. Peter Markov is a pediatric dentist and owner at VK Pediatric Dentistry in Arlington, Virginia. He graduated dental school with honors from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and completed his residency in pediatric dentistry at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He is passionate about children’s oral health and kids’ dentistry. When he is not practicing pediatric dentistry, you can find him out in Northern Virginia paddle boarding, biking in Mclean, and sightseeing the D.C. monuments.