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Washington State Dental Association

7 Habits of Highly Effective Dentists

Lynne Nelson of Columbia Bank, a WSDA preferred lender, shares seven habits of highly effective dentists.

The first few years of practicing dentistry can be very intimidating. From financing your practice to hiring staff and creating your brand, developing the foundation for your career in dentistry takes a lot of hard work. While mistakes might be inevitable, you can be proactive in your efforts by fostering habits of highly effective dentists. 

  1. Continue Education: What is considered a healthy overhead for my practice? Am I on target within each of my expense categories? Not wanting to trip over dollars to pick up dimes, how do we maintain a cost effective approach to ordering supplies? What is my return on investment for my practice marketing? Dental schools can teach you how to be a great dentist, but most don’t teach you how to be a successful business owner. Continuing your business education is a key factor in developing your ideal practice in the future. While success won’t happen overnight, you’ll benefit from building a solid business foundation earlier than later in your career. The effective young dentist and their practice never stops evolving or improving. 
  2. Communicate: To be a great dentist, you have to be a great communicator. Strong, purposeful communication skills will allow you to effectively manage staff, help patients to understand their treatment options and grow your practice. Understanding that there are many ways to communicate messages means that you are constantly perfecting and improving the way you communicate as a dentist – and efficiently reaching your audience. 
  3. Identifying Weaknesses: Successful doctors typically aren’t experts in every aspect related to their dental practice. Being self-aware will allow you to identify your strengths, so you can focus on your weaknesses. From leadership skills, accounting to marketing, knowing which areas will require improvement will make a positive difference for your practice, staff and patients. 
  4. Build Financial Awareness: Micromanagement can be harmful to your practice, especially when it comes to managing finances. By giving yourself and your team an awareness of what is needed to maintain and grow larger, you can enlist your staff in reaching new goals on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. Empowering staff with this information is mutually beneficial and allows everyone to stay on track and maintain efficiency in all aspects of practice productivity.
  5. Network & Engage: Surrounding yourself with like-minded professionals is a practice that is effective for professionals in any industry, but is especially powerful in dentistry. Aligning yourself with professionals who share your vision for growth and advancement will mean you can depend less on luck, and more on strategic planning, to be successful. 
  6. Goal Oriented: Knowing where you want to be in 20 years means you can begin taking steps to accomplish those goals today. By breaking down large goals into smaller steps you can monitor, evaluate and adapt as you work toward long-term objectives. Don’t be afraid to revisit your plan and evaluate your plan to confirm you’re still on the right path. 
  7. Celebrate Success: Purposefully taking time to appreciate your hard work in achieving milestones is important so you can recharge and continue to be effective in your pursuits. Be sure to examine any unrealized goals for what didn’t work and adjust when you need to. Know that it is okay to not reach a goal on your first attempt and be sure to celebrate any progress – no matter how big or small – you make along the way! 

Lynne Nelson is a Vice President of Professional Banking servicing Columbia Bank’s growing client base of dentists, veterinarians and physicians in Eastern Washington. She has more than 25 years of experience in the dental industry and works with a team of dental experts across the Pacific Northwest to provide targeted insight and financial solutions. Connect with Lynne today to learn more about starting your dental practice.

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