Purpose, philosophy, and vision

In a master practice, everyone understands that dentistry is a business and works to create an environment that ensures economic success.

In a master practice, everyone understands that dentistry is a business and works to create an environment that ensures economic success. In this environment, individual contributions are part of a grand design. Everybody is important and nobody is left out of the loop. Everyone moves in a positive direction.

Every team member understands how his or her duties interface with the duties and responsibilities of every other team member. Achieving this design requires attention to three important elements which are the foundation of every master practice - purpose, philosophy, and vision. Individually, these three elements are important. In combination, they are incredibly powerful.

To understand how purpose, philosophy, and vision work within a master practice, you need to understand how these three elements work in your own professional design. It means being fully aware of what you do, why you do it, how you do it, what it means to you and to others, and where it is all going. This self-awareness doesn’t appear out of the blue. It comes from some pretty intense self-examination.

First, you must ask yourself, “Why am I here?” When you decided to accept a position as a dental practice team member, you did so for a reason. It may have been great hours, a good salary, nice atmosphere, or a number of other attractive features that said “this is the place” to you. Look below the surface and you will see your decision to work in this office had another dimension to it. There is a reason you do not sell shoes or teach history for a living. Look closely at the choices you made to take you where you are today. They were probably motivated by a desire to work at a job that is fulfilling and meaningful to you. They define your purpose.

Then ask yourself, “What do I believe about my job and my role in this job?” Chances are that your answers will show you believe your work is valuable because it accomplishes something positive. Dig a little deeper and you will find out your core belief is grounded in some pretty specific ideals. Because you take pride in what you do, you approach every task with determination and persistence. You have an unspoken commitment to yourself (and to others) to do your job to the best of your ability. You work ethically without cutting corners. You take responsibility for the duties you are assigned, and you recognize you are accountable for what you do. These beliefs are the basis of your professional philosophy.

The third important question you need to ask yourself has to do with the future. “Where do I want to see myself in a year, five years, or 10 years?” Think about your work as it is today. Then think about your work as you would truly like it to be. How much happier would you be if you had more opportunity, more money, more fun, and more time? How much more fulfilled would you be if you had less stress, less frustration, fewer concerns about money, and fewer interruptions? Create a clear image of an ideal job position for yourself within the practice. What you have created is a vision - a perfect picture of what things should be like.

Take a step back and you should see a similar practice vision. If there is no practice vision, you should create one. Focus on the kind of atmosphere you want to work in, the people you want to work with, and the patients you want to serve. Focus on the kind of experience that you would like to have each day when you come to work and at the end of each year. The vision should emerge as a mirror image of the practice purpose and practice philosophy.

Success is not an impossible dream. Being able to see beyond today means believing in yourself and in your purpose. It also means remaining true to your philosophy. When all of these things are in place, you and your teammates cannot fail! You have begun the journey of creating a master practice.

This column is for the team to “clip and save” each month.Cynthia McKane-Wagester, RDH, MBA, is a practicing hygienist and president of McKane & Associates, a full-service management-consulting firm. She can be reached by phone at (800) 341-1244, or by e-mail at CMandAssoc@aol.com.

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