My 2018 summary

This article may seem a bit premature, considering that we still have two months left of 2018. However, Lydia and I are taking six weeks off to visit Australia and New Zealand so I’ll be signing off after this article until the new year. Before I go, I wanted to write a brief summary of the blog so far. Commitments to ‘The Online Dentist’ and the ‘Art of Dentistry’ study day have limited my time this year and I haven’t written as much as I would have liked. There are plenty of new topics that I’ll come to in future but for now, I wanted to touch upon the main themes that I’ve talked about this year. I’ll start with the key theme that I seem to write about over and over again.

Understanding your value

You must understand what your skill, time and expertise are worth. Consider how much effort it has taken to get you to where you are now. Thousands of hours of hard work mean that you are a highly skilled professional with a huge amount to offer your patients.

Do not let anyone or anything undermine that value. External factors will put pressure on you and cause you stress but they must not alter how you view yourself. A special mention here goes to the NHS. The UDA system is set up in such a way that it undermines the value of a lot of our care. Understand that it is just a system. Do not let this system diminish your self worth.

Free yourself from bullshit

Things like litigation, regulation and the dysfunctional UDA system have infected our collective psyche. There is so much negativity surrounding dentistry that, if we’re not careful, we are going to allow these negative factors to define the profession.

I believe that there is so much to be positive about. Dentistry is a great profession where we all have the opportunity to build a unique, fulfilling career. But if you listen to the doom-mongers, it will poison you. If you accept their false truths, it will drag you down. You’ll start to believe the stories, the fictions that will hold you back, preventing you from being the best professional you can be and reaching your potential.

Try to see the profession from an objective point of view. Dentistry has plenty of issues but the majority of these problems don’t affect us as individuals day to day. Make sure that these unseen menaces don’t grow into bigger threats in your head than they actually are.

What’s important to your patients?

Shift your attention away from dubious threats and instead start to focus on what’s really important. What’s important to your patients?

If you are always focused on doing your best for your patients, demonstrating that you value them and showing them the value of your care, you surely cannot go wrong.

In every aspect of your work, consider your patient’s point of view. Consider how you communicate, how you explain treatment, how you provide and follow up care from your patient’s perspective. Patients don’t care about bond strengths or fissure patterns or apical seals. They care about how you treat them and how you demonstrate that they are important to you. Of course, our clinical skills are extremely important but good clinical skills only make you a functional dentist. It takes a whole lot more to turn you from functional to vital.

See you next year

Of course, all of this is just my opinion. If you agree or disagree with anything I have written (or, indeed, if you couldn’t care less) it would be great to hear from you. My ambition for this blog is to help colleagues take a fresh look at the way they work and hopefully enable some of us to change our practise for the better. It certainly helps me flesh out ideas and reflect on the way that I work. As mentioned above, feel free to get in contact with any thoughts and opinions you have. Otherwise, enjoy the rest of Autumn and you’ll hear from me next year.

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