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Crossroad to success

Oct. 1, 2008
Faced with difficult questions about his future, Dr. Bradley J. Olson uses continuing education, AACD involvement to fulfill his dental mission.
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by Bradley J. Olson, DDS, FAACD, FAGD
Photography by Adam Auel Photography

Faced with difficult questions about his future, Dr. Bradley J. Olson uses continuing education, AACD involvement to fulfill his dental mission.

For more on this topic, go to and search using the following key words: crossroad, solo practitioner, Dr. Bradley Olson, AACD, mission statement.

I reached a crossroad in my dental career in the late 1980s when my partner had to retire prematurely with a disability. I had a busy, two-doctor practice and I was uncertain whether I could maintain the existing patient flow. Dentistry was not much fun and I had to decide whether to bring on a doctor or change my style of practice.

I made the transformation by remaining a solo practitioner, focusing on comprehensive restorative and esthetic dentistry, while working with a team of specialists in my geographic area who shared my vision of complete dentistry. These specialists became integral to our success, and served as an excellent source of counter referrals. Our office established a mission statement (see screened box on page 19) to which we adhere to this day.

As the complexity of cases increased, I sought continuing education that would support my need for predictable diagnosis and treatment planning. I found courses with Pete Dawson to be pivotal in my education.

The dental team for Dr. Bradley Olson includes (from left): Adriana Abell, Cyndie Campbell, Cindy Berres, Dr. Olson, Karen Wood, Marla Turner, Patty Duvall.
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The turning point in my career came when my friend and dental school colleague, Dr. Brian LeSage, suggested I join the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. I chose to pursue Accreditation, and found the process to be the single most influential educational process of my career. I became Accredited, achieved Accredited Fellow status, and served for two years as Chairman of Accreditation. Currently, I serve on the American Board of Cosmetic Dentistry.

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While my professional life evolved, the space and location where I was practicing did not. I needed more space and wanted to upgrade technologically. I had a vision of what I wanted my building and office space to look like. But I found that purchasing land and trying to build an office in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area was financially prohibitive.

So I readjusted my thinking. I located a condo space and then relied on a team of experts to help my vision become a reality. By taking a course with T.H.E. Design, I had a template with which to work. I then consulted with Patterson Dental's Steve Smith, who has been designing offices since 1980 and has completed hundreds of projects.

The space had a unique layout around the elevators and the entrance. It was important to me that the reception desk face the glass entry so patients could be greeted face-to-face upon entry. We do not have a sign-in sheet and the staff reviews the photos of scheduled patients so they can be greeted by name. This created a split reception area.

At first, this setup appeared awkward, but it has proven to allow a level of privacy for patients and those accompanying them. The flat screen monitor near the entrance provides a continuous digital photo album of completed cases. A bound print version is found in the other section. In addition, portraits of rejuvenated smiles are framed in designed niches and suspended by wire.

All the operatories were designed to follow the windows on the sides of the space. The sterilization area is a custom design that maximizes space and provides the image of an upscale kitchen, demonstrating our commitment to cleanliness and sterilization. These design features are accentuated by an ideal flow from reception to treatment, with a natural spacing of staff and personal space for the doctor.

The largest impact from a technological aspect was the conversion to all digital. We use digital X-rays, panoramic, photography, and computerized charts. I worked with Rosie Smith from Patterson Dental and chose Patterson's EagleSoft software. I transferred to this software while in my old office the year prior to the move so that our front desk staff would be well versed in its usage and could serve as tech support for the rest of us in transition.

My staff, while nervous, shared my view of eliminating paper charts in our new location and worked diligently to make that happen. We moved in, trained for two days, and started seeing patients with a limited schedule on the third day of training. We kept old charts. Occasionally, we refer or scan information on an as-needed basis. I chose Patterson Dental for our hardware because of its seamless integration and support.

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The only equipment transferred from the old office was four A-dec chairs that we recovered and four track lights. The fifth operatory was newly equipped with an A-dec chair, overhead track light, and delivery system. The operatories also have dual flat screens for patient and doctor, Tempur-Pedic chair cushions, XM satellite radio with wireless head phones, and KaVo electric handpieces.

We have already seen a return on investment. First and foremost is a comfortable and welcoming working environment that motivates doctor and staff. Patients comment that the office is inviting and reminds them of an office they would find in downtown Washington, D.C.

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Patient comfort has been confirmed by fewer patients requiring use of N2O or mild oral sedatives. Patients also have taken pictures of window treatments and asked for paint, wallpaper specs, and the name of our interior decorator. A dedicated and high-quality consultation room enhances the ability to communicate treatment options. As a result, we have seen increased case acceptance.

Just as with the attention to detail in dentistry, finishing touches can make all the difference. We have found the upscale décor has provided a high esthetic impact without having to employ higher-end architectural designs. I had worked with Interior Concepts of Annapolis, Md., with decorating our home. In addition, our commercial designer, Kim McCarl, came with the unique qualifications of senior designer, architect, as well as being the wife of a dentist. She was able to make our dream a reality.

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While a new office is an exciting and sound business investment, I believe the foundation to success is built on five principles:

  1. Hire the best people you can find who share your vision: Your staff is your No. 1 asset
  2. Keep open communication with your patients
  3. Take part in ontinuing education and organizational involvement
  4. Mentor — you will receive more than you give
  5. Love what you do
Bradley J. Olson
3450 Old Washington Road, Suite 301
Waldorf, MD 2060
Phone: (301) 645-6611
Comprehensive restorative and esthetic dentistry
e-mail: [email protected]

Bradley J. Olson, DDS, FAACD, FAGD

We are:
Dedicated to providing the highest quality oral health care in a cheerful and caring environment with a commitment to uncompromised personal and professional service for each patient.

To our patients:

We are committed to honest and open communication to build long-lasting relationships built on mutual respect and trust. Through comprehensive individualized treatment plans, we seek to assure the wants and needs of each patient are recognized and fulfilled, and instill a desire for achieving and maintaining optimum oral health.

Our patients are the reason we exist as an organization and our objective is to make each patient an ambassador for continued growth and success.

To our staff:

We are committed to the hiring and development of the finest individuals in dentistry and rely on our knowledge, dedication, and energy to provide superior service. Our quality and performance are based on teamwork and communication and we provide continuing education for personal and professional growth.

To our profession:

We are committed to remaining at the forefront of dental technology and techniques that make us the leader in our profession. We associate with quality oriented specialists and laboratories that share our commitment to excellence and contribute greatly to our success.

To our community:

We are committed to building on our reputation as an organization that gives of its time and talents to enhance the community it serves.

Dr. Bradley J. Olson
Office equipment checklist

A-dec Duo delivery system
A-dec dental chairs
A-dec doctor's stools
A-dec assistant's stools
A-dec track light
Planmeca Proline digital panoramic
Schick digital radiographs
KaVo electric handpieces
KaVo QUATTROcare system
Tempur-Pedic custom chair cushions
SciCan Statim 2000
DENTSPLY Cavitron select SPS
XM satellite radio with wireless headphones
MP3 player
Big-screen TV with before-and-after patient photos
Canon MP960 scanner, printer, photocopier
Epson Expression 1680 scanner
Patterson EagleSoft software

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