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I was watching a film recently which started with some older astronauts training for a mission. In a flight simulator, the problems were piled up, one on the other. An engine failure, a fire, an asteroid hit, a power failure etc etc. It reached the point where disaster seemed inevitable. However, the experienced pilot gave up trying to fly with all the electronic help failing, switched off the computers and landed the spaceship by hand using skills he had learned as a young man flying basic aeroplanes. The lesson was about not getting overwhelmed by apparent calamities and to rely on core values.
Ever got distracted by multiplying problems in practice? It’s so easy to lose your way when we don’t know what is happening within our profession. It’s difficult enough developing a financial plan when there are so many variables in play with a dental practice . Outside threats come in many forms, from the political climate to varying public demand for treatment. How can we plan for the future when the ‘new/old’ contract is still in development? Is the recession still affecting patient’s ability to buy private treatment? When every other practice in the town is offering botox, should you spend money on a Facial Aesthetics course? The worries come in many forms.
Well, maybe this is the time to go back to basics.
There was a time when patients came to us for plain and simple basic dentistry. Sometimes, they only appeared on our doorstep when pain relief was required. Mainly they came for fairly regular check-ups and any treatment that was required to keep them orally healthy. This meant basic fillings and simple periodontal treatment, with a responsibility to talk about entry level prevention.
In order to do this, we needed a good understanding of the basic dental diseases and a foundation skill-set in providing simple restorations that would last a long time. This was our core business. If we cast our minds back far enough, this was what we were trained to do at Dental School. If you like, these are our basic flying skills.
When things get tough……
When things actually do get tough, we need to see beyond all those looming problems and re-visit these basic skills. They are the backbone of our business.
If you are not sure what to do, or what direction to aim for, spend your time on practicing basic dentistry and make sure you can do it well. This backbone will support you when patients are not buying sophisticated smile designs. It will serve you well when trying to negotiate the minefield of NHS contracts and create more UDAs than any other style of practice. Concentrating on basics will still bring in income while you are waiting to see what is trending in cosmetic treatments.
Core-business dentistry will help you get to know patients better too. Once they know you can do what you promise, they will trust you in the future. You can also be reassured internally that you are practicing ethically and with good intent. The backbone of dentistry and your moral backbone too!
Dr John Shapter – QCS Expert Dental Contributor