Samson Liu, DDS, MAGD, MBA
As dentists, we have earned the unique opportunity of improving the health and livelihood of others. Not everyone in other professions can say that. Using the knowledge and skills we learned in dental school, we provide the gift of oral health care each day, helping countless patients in the process. In addition to the service you provide each day, you have many opportunities in your area to expand your patient reach and community support.
Whether you hold initiatives that provide free dental services, educate others on oral health, or give back to your area in other ways, taking advantage of these opportunities demonstrates your commitment, creates a positive standing in your community, and unites your team around the same cause. With competition within your community increasing, as well as increased transparency to the public at large (e.g., online reviews and profiles, office websites), establishing a strong local presence will help you stand out.
Not only will the presence help gain recognition for your office, it's the right thing to do for those in need. Lack of access to care is still a prevalent issue in our society. Many still go without regular, essential oral health care because of economic problems. A report completed by the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging states that more than 130 million Americans currently do not have dental insurance.1 Carrying out initiatives that support increased access to care and provide dental education is more important than ever.
Take the initiative. With "free dental days" and other charitable events, those in your community who cannot afford treatment can still receive the care they need. Each year, dental offices across the country hold free dental events, helping thousands of patients and donating thousands of dollars of dentistry.
Strengthen your team. Dental teams function best working together toward common goals. Carrying out community initiatives is an excellent way to establish this team mindset. Planning these events from the ground up-setting dates, creating action plans, setting overall goals, and following through with plans-will bring your team together. You also get the opportunity to exercise leadership in overseeing these events and delegating responsibility. The more your group plans together, the more tightknit they will become-creating more efficiency in working together.
Advance your community standing. While extending the reach of your care, giving back also benefits your office's community standing. Every person you help is likely to spread his or her great experience to others. Simply showing your generosity and dedication creates positive word of mouth for your office that spreads throughout your community. Most likely, several other dental offices in your area offer similar services. Taking the extra step to show your community values will help you stand out from the rest.
In addition to free dental events, there are other initiatives outside of dentistry as well. During the holidays, you can hold a food or toy drive to benefit the less fortunate. Your team could participate in other local charitable events such as runs, walks, or fundraisers.
No matter the focus, initiating these events will positively affect your office. You, your team, your patients, and your entire community will benefit.
1. U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, Subcommittee on Primary Health & Aging. Dental Crisis in America: The Need to Expand Access; http://www.sanders.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/DENTALCRISIS.REPORT.pdf. Published February 29, 2012. Accessed July 15, 2015.
Samson Liu, DDS, MAGD, MBA, is the executive vice president of clinical affairs at Heartland Dental. In 2004, he was named to the Young Presidents Organization-World Presidents Organization. Additionally, Dr. Liu plays an active role on the Association of Dental Support Organizations (ADSO) Clinical Committee, and he and six of his esteemed colleagues leveraged their clinical and professional experience to create the Dentists for Oral Health Innovation (DOHI) group.