Why Philosophy is Important

Build your relationships first….then your dentistry. ~ Bob Barkley

Why Philosophy is Important

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After 32 years in dentistry, I’ve consulted with a lot of dentists, many of whom were nearing a point of retirement, or leaving the profession entirely.

And of that group, many expressed regret, and would tell me something like, “I wish I had possessed the courage to run my practice the way I felt it should have been run, instead of chasing the constant down-cycle of the insurance industry.”

Why is this such a common regret in a profession which offers so much opportunity for independence, deeply rewarding interpersonal helping, and creativity?

Most dentists have their personal life under control and pointed in a preferred direction. They live where they like, they send their children to optimal schools, they involve themselves in Church and sports.

They coach.

They work out.

They vacation in fine places.

They drive nice cars.

And this is all because they know they have the power to choose, and they “choose to choose”, as Avrom King used to say.

But why is practice life so different for most? Why are dentists in so many dependency relationships with insurance companies and therefore patients when they have the choice not do so?

“Money”, you say?

“It just can’t be done any other way in my town!”


Are you sure about that?

In reality, most of us exited the dental school treadmill of producing “procedures” and “If I can just get through this last semester”, into a practice situation which was almost identical to it, rendering out a similar emotional response…

“I hate this, but I have no choice right now.”

We focus down on the present so intensely that we can’t see over the hill. In fact we don’t even acknowledge that there is a hill and something preferable on the other side.

We become automatons…we check-in, we check-out. We check for emotional scars at then end of the day. We say to ourselves, “Made it through another one…When is that trip to St.Thomas?”

And here is the result:

If we never draw a line in the sand and clarify what is really important to us and what we want our professional life to become, we just keep looking down. We just keep punching the clock. And we keep looking for the next enjoyable distraction.

Big game on tonight!

Did you see that new BMW six-series?

The gray areas of life loom larger when we fail to clarify what we believe, when we fail to live life buttressed by a philosophy which influences our decisions and choices.

Without a personal practice philosophy, we are forced to adopt one from our environment. We are forced to adopt the philosophy of the insurance company or the corporation. And we are forced to accept what THEIR philosophy does to us.

We are forced to become a slave to our own lack of personal and professional leadership.

When Bob Barkley was asked for the one thing that he would like to grant all dentists…the one wish he had for them, his answer was immediate, “I wish every dentist would create a clear and written practice philosophy”.

And all of the above reasons are why he felt that way.

Paul A Henny, DDS

Thought Experiments LLC, ©2016

Read more at: www.codiscovery.com

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