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

By | December 20, 2013
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.

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

  1. Thiago daLuz

    I can definitely agree to that. Our new dentist in St John IN is every bit a leader. Our last one was something of a doormat. Your patients notice if you don’t have it!

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