Interesting read! Doctor’s make mistakes, have triumphs and have the full range of emotions that all the rest of us do. But gaining an understanding of how a doctor acts, reacts and stays in practice day after day takes a special story teller. It helps when the storyteller is a doctor, in this case a neurosurgeon, Dr. Henry Marsh. A valuable series of insights that both doctors and the rest of us can benefit from reading and thinking deeply about. Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery, was named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review.
I am pleased to announce that the newest revisions of the two American Dental Association publications I have co-authored are now available. The two publications are, The Practical Guide to Associateship: Success Strategies for Dentist – Owners and Prospective Associates and The Practical Guide to Valuing a Practice: A Manual for Dentists. They can be ordered directly from the ADA or from our webstore at www.BerningAffiliates.com. Note Berning & Affiliates also offers a Companion Reader for each title that directs readers considering a practice transition to key sections of the pertinent ADA publication.
In all I have undertaken six revisions of the publications since 1988, with the titles modified by the ADA from time to time. Thousands of doctors have purchased the publications over the years. I have been very fortunate to have outstanding co-authors. My co-author for the first 5 revisions was Larry Domer, MBA, DBA, AVA, now Professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado School of Dentistry, and my current co-author is Paul Baumann, CPA, ABV, CFF, CGMA, ASA, partner at Baumann Moreau.
When looking at retirement doctors can be pleased or disappointed as they look back. I see it all the time when handling practice transitions and succession planning for doctors because inevitably we talk about how the practice started and what happened over the years. In the book Triumphs and Experience by George Vaillant, the good news is that people over many years continue to develop. They are increasingly refined is the way I look at. This book tracks the Harvard Grant Study that tracked 200 undergraduate men looking at their physical and emotional health. As one reviewer, Martin Seligman stated, "If you are preparing for the last quarter of your life, this is a MUST read." And I agree. In addition to the book you can check out a recent column A Way To Get Past Regrets by Diane Cole WSJ where she interviews Dr. Vaillant. Here is one excerpt, WSJ: Which of the participants in the study tend to have regrets later in life? Dr. Vaillant (provides an answer) then WSJ asks How did that compare with those people who tend to be more content? Dr. Vaillant: The latter had learned not to cry about spilled milk. The had learned to savor the things that had gone right." Which to me is great advice for any retiring doctor!
Way too often Doctor CEOs and I talk about the sometimes clue less behavior of younger professionals seeking associateship, partnership or practice purchase opportunities. Here is an example. Practice owner pays for the airfare for a candidate to visit the practice, pays for the hotel, pays for two days of meals and takes time away from family to meet and interview the doctor. Many, many days after the visit the prospect texts, “Thanks again for the weekend visit! By the way could you help me out and send me some materials we discussed?” WOW! Anyone heard of a personal call as a follow up, or an email, or a note saying thank you? What about asking for a favor in the first communication? Anyone heard of building a relationship before asking for a favor? Maybe not. But I’m telling you to wise up. Your great clinical skills or the good program you came out of does not mean much if you lack basic courtesy. Remember, there are a lot of other candidates in line for a position!Consider reading this The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success.
What gets to you, the economy, your practice marketing (or lack of), your practice performance, politics at the national, state or local level (or all of them!) maybe the environment? Today it feels like you can take your pick and they all seem thorny and in some cases downright depressing! Maybe we need a more optimistic view. I have been through my share of recent practice planning meetings to know that some Doctor CEOs are finding particularly painful the slow overall economic recovery. Yet, there may be many reasons to see a future that is brighter. Once the economic recovery is on a firm footing the practices that have made it and are well regarded will be sought after. It should be a time of reaping the pent up demand from patients that have delayed care over the past 4-5 years. Subscribers of the Smart Doctor CEO Coaching Newsletter will have as a bonus this month a book review on the new book, Abundance, by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler. As you can tell from the title it is a very up book! If you are interested in a gaining a different perspective you can order it from Randall’s Reading List in our Store.
“To what do I owe my success?”, a doctor with 28 years of practice said in answer to my question. “I’d say it is my ability to anticipate the needs of the practice and staff.” We discussed that the practice has a wide range of needs, from how the facility is set up and equipped to overall administration. So too his staff has needs given the demands of the week and month. His efforts are to be ahead of and not behind those needs, to act and not be slow to act. His only regret, “Not learning to anticipate needs earlier in my career.” In this regard, Doctor CEO’s will find of interest, Always a Winner: Finding Your Competitive Advantage In An Up and Down Economy by Peter Navarro (2009). Although directed at large entities the emphasis of the author on anticipating business cycles, forecasting and thinking strategically is a wonderful motivator.
There are many ways that a practice, doctor and staff can standout in a patient’s mind. I came across one of the more interesting recently during a practice visit. In short, the Doctor CEO had encouraged his staff to see the patient experience through a patient’s eyes. This alone was not that unusual. But what was unusual was the amount of staff meeting time and role playing that went into refining what has became a defining aspect of the practice. Namely, there is nothing too small, no act or action, that might impact the patient experience that it should not be a priority. Think about that for a moment, what would it be like for your patients if everyone on staff, including you, watched and anticipated meeting the needs of each patient? Seeing each patient as a person with unique needs, means that their time, their schedule, their comfort, and their understanding of the treatment becomes paramount. It certainly makes the practice a unique place, one that any patient would treasure and want to return to. Now you might think that you already know what your patients think when they come to the practice. A new book may help you see what do you are not seeing. The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons takes the position that how our minds work and our perceptions are not what we think they are. I think Doctor CEO’s will relate to some of the key points through the unusual stories told by the authors.
Most of my clients and friends are aware that I like to mine leading business books for ideas that Doctor CEO’s might find helpful. In a new book, The Corner Office by Adam Bryant doctors will find a powerful collection of insights from top executives. The author identifies five key qualities that have led and will lead to success as a CEO. You will not find these mentioned in other books of this kind, at least not in this way. For example, how about one of them, that top CEO’s are passionately curious? I really like that discussion because that is exactly what I find in the top doctors I have worked with! It makes great sense to me to bring this out in yourself, encourage it in younger associates, partners and your staff. Not all of the material will be found applicable to the dental practice context. One theme throughout the material is however bound to be appreciated. Namely, all qualities mentioned can be developed with time and attention.
Good news! My colleague and long-time friend, Joseph P. Graskemper, DDS, JD has a new book being released by Wiley Blackwell. It is entitled “Professional Responsibility in Dentistry: A Practical Guide to Law and Ethics“. His new book covers many aspects for the new and the not so new dentists in the field of Dental Law, Ethics, Professionalism, Risk Management, and Practice Management by applying True Cases to make it interesting. Amazon is taking pre-orders for the book which has a release date of August 2011. Joe is also the author of the “Risk Management – The Series” on our webstore under the Special Reports banner. I have the greatest respect for Joe. He is a professional’s professional, a wealth of knowledge, competence and expertise and he enjoys sharing through writing, speaking and teaching at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine.
A question that many doctors ask, especially as they start their practice, is “What form of entity should the practice be, sole proprietor, professional corporation, limited liability?” No doubt some doctors give the form of entity question little thought and just start out as a sole proprietor, but then at some point they read an article or talk with a colleague that asks why they are a sole proprietor. The implication can be that choosing to be a sole proprietor is somehow wrong. To help doctors think through the question of entity choice, a new monograph has joined our Special Reports, What’s “Wrong” With Being A Sole Proprietor, If Anything? Written by Kathy Tayon, Esq. Kathy is a Florida Bar Board Certified Health Care Lawyer and a partner with Fowler, White & Boggs. She has been representing health care providers for over 19 years in matters including forming new business, buying and selling businesses, employment contacts, management contracts, leases and operational and compliance issues.