A different view of management

April 1, 1999
I have just returned from the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dental Practice Administration (AADPA). This has become my favorite meeting for a number of reasons. It has a very different format than most dental meetings. Many of the key speakers, for example, have nothing to do with dentistry. But the speaker`s message often can be life changing on many different levels. Many times, the message you hear depends on your own life experiences.

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor

e-mail: [email protected]

I have just returned from the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dental Practice Administration (AADPA). This has become my favorite meeting for a number of reasons. It has a very different format than most dental meetings. Many of the key speakers, for example, have nothing to do with dentistry. But the speaker`s message often can be life changing on many different levels. Many times, the message you hear depends on your own life experiences.

Part of the meeting has the very best and brightest speakers on practice management subjects only. These usually are in the form of breakout sessions, so that a choice must be made. The sessions are limited in attendance, encouraging audience participation with the speaker. The speakers chosen for these sessions are a mix from within the AADPA and nationally known speakers. I always come away with a number of new ideas and things to try.

The meeting is always hosted at a warm-weather resort that includes a golf course. This year`s meeting was at the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island in Florida. One reason for choosing this type of hotel is to experience the service and ambiance of the facility. The hotel staff at the Ritz out-did themselves. Each time I passed a staff member in the hallway, there always was a smile and an acknowledgement. The staff obviously was trained in a "can-do" approach to problem-solving. I learned many valuable lessons that can be applied to my practice.

This year was an exceptional one for me. I had the honor of being elected to serve on the Board of Directors of this fine organization for the next three years. The members of the AADPA include most of the outstanding speakers on practice management in the United States, Canada, and Australia. It was a humbling experience to be chosen by these people to provide leadership for their organization. I look forward to charting our course into the next millenium.

Another connection to AADPA is this month`s cover. Dr. Don Erickson is one of the founders and served as president of this fine organization. He was always willing to give back to his profession. Don practiced for many years in Minneapolis and now divides his time between there and Florida. I hope that you are enjoying our new cover format. Dental Economics is simply trying to acquaint you with dentists from across the country who are happy with their decision to enter this fine profession.

I receive most of the state dental journals, and I try to read each one. I was disturbed the other day by an opinion in one of the journals. The writer was describing his experience at a continuing education course about how to do perfect dentistry on perfect patients. This depressed him, because he did not have perfect patients who chose perfect treatment plans in his practice. He said that many of his patients selected the third or fourth option that he presented to them. They just could not afford the extraordinary perfect restorative option that deals with implants, veneers, or multiple crowns.

I have heard this lament many times. My practice is not located in an affluent part of St. Louis. My patients are a mix of blue- and white-collar workers who I have educated over the years to value dentistry. My treatment plans do not have a lot of options. I present ideal dentistry and then help my patients find a way to afford it.

I will never forget Margaret. She lives on a fixed income, but she values her teeth and always would make her six-month recare appointment. Her teeth were wearing and beginning to break down. She asked about repairing them. Her treatment involved multiple crowns and the fee was $9,000. She left the office in tears, because she could not afford the treatment. The entire office was sad because we could not help Margaret. The next Monday, Margaret called the office to schedule her initial treatment appointment. Over the weekend, her children decided to give Margaret the money to get her teeth fixed. Her case taught the entire office many lessons.

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