I think most of us agree with Bob Barkley’s statement, “Our diagnosis is the most important thing we have to offer our patients.” But if you think about it, the diagnosis we render will be governed by how we think and what we believe …our “philosophy of dentistry”. And those beliefs will be extensively influenced by our technical abilities at any given point in time. This is because we tend to see only that which we understand, and we tend to overlook that which has no current meaning to us. Consequently, we tend to recommend treatment based upon the things that we understand and do well, and we rationalize away other approaches or other ways of thinking, even though they might be better.
This is why the creation of a written philosophy statement is so important. Because a written philosophy is a perspective and a direction not “a way.” It evolves as we learn and grow, and herefore a “living” document. In fact, if it is not living, it is fixed, rigid, and restrictive. And how can a fixed, rigid mindset be helpful in a rapidly changing marketplace with rapidly changing knowledge and technology?
If your philosophy of practice is not definable enough to write it down, then you do not have a clear one. Instead, you have an incoherent agglomeration of thoughts, facts, beliefs, approaches, experiences, and techniques. And consequently, you will likely approach every challenging situation in a more disorganized fashion, and then vacillate when offering patients treatment options. You will tend to offer those patients with whom you feel good about being around one type of care, and you will tend to avoid offering the very same options to others because you will believe that they might reject you. Yes, you read that correctly, “you” – not “it.” In other words, you will tend to make decisions based more on how you FEEL about yourself than based upon what you KNOW, and what you deeply believe – your values.
A well-defined Philosophy Statement is therefore the critical first step towards becoming consistent and experiencing predictable treatment outcomes. And it is only after we start to routinely experience consistent and predictable outcomes that we become effective at communicating with our new patients the true value of what we have to offer, and what they can expect to gain from it.
So we must first clarify, then write (creatively think), then live, then experience, then repeat.
This is how someone “spirals up”, and not down in “disrupted” marketplaces and situations. Your clarified philosophy functions as a consistent “North Star” reference point to assist you in making the right decisions which will then take you in the right direction.
Paul A. Henny, DDS
Thought Experiments LLC, ©2018
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