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

By | December 27, 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 two of the leadership skills that I learned at the ADA New Dentist Conference—read part one here.

 1.     Have fun! One of my patients is my English high school teacher. During each of our visits, he always asks me if I have fun being a dentist. He always says, “If you have fun doing what you get paid to do, you will never work a day in your life.”

While dentistry isn’t always birthday cake and ice cream, it can be fun most of the time. This theme repeatedly showed itself at the conference. If you can foster a fun environment, you also create a “want-to” instead of a “have-to” environment. This will help you attract and maintain a great staff. If you can make someone laugh during a root canal on #15 or an extraction of #16, it will create a more accepting patient base and attract a dynamic group of patients. People want to be in a fun environment. As one of the speakers stated, “Ultimately, life is about having the most fun possible before you die.”

2.     Recharge your own batteries As a dentist, you are definitely responsible for the margins on the crown you just cemented and how tight the contact is on #14-DO. In addition, you are probably the chief operating officer when the dental chair breaks down in room one. You are the chief technology officer, when the computer in room two doesn’t turn on. You are the chief customer relations officer when a patient complains, believing their co-pay is incorrect.

You are ultimately responsible for everything in your dental office and that includes yourself; therefore, you need to set time aside for you. It can be exercise like running or yoga. It can be meditation or writing in a journal. Do whatever it is that helps you recharge yourself relax.

Additionally, take time off. My wife and I have an agreement that we must plan our next vacation before we take our current vacation. It gives us something to look forward to upon our return and it helps to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I hope this gives you some insight into the ADA New Dentist Conference, and also gives you some ideas on how to better yourself and lead a successful dental practice. Hopefully, I will see you next year at the ADA New Dentist Conference in Kansas City, Missouri July 17-19, 2014.


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.