God bless and keep us all!

Nov. 1, 2009
I am writing this column as I return from the ADA Annual Meeting in Honolulu. It was a great meeting with many professional and personal highs!

I am writing this column as I return from the ADA Annual Meeting in Honolulu. It was a great meeting with many professional and personal highs! This was an exceptional meeting. The Hawaii Convention Center is an exceptional meeting place. The exhibit space and seminar room space were limited, and there were many who had low expectations, but the limited space resulted in an excellent meeting for both attendees and exhibitors.

The CE programs were on the third floor beginning at 7:30 a.m. or 8 a.m., breaking two and a half hours later. The escalators from the meeting rooms funneled the attendees directly from the entrance to the exhibit area in which all the food services were located. I can tell you that most of the exhibitors that I talked to were very busy during these times, and they were writing orders! These dentists, in general, were interested in investing in themselves and their offices rather than in the stock market.

The ADA did a terrific job selecting courses and lecturers who were well received by the dentists and team members attending. This was evidenced by many sold–out courses and standing room only in seminars that did not charge a fee. I watched a masterful live patient presentation by Dr. Jon Suzuki in the Theatre in the Round. He did a crown–lengthening procedure on a patient while totally explaining the process from patient selection all the way to patient follow–up. The close–up images were supplied by the Magna Vu Company on the multiple screens so that everyone had a chairside seat.

The ADA celebrated its 150th anniversary with a wonderful meeting in a most delightful setting that included beautiful sunsets and sunrises! I am running out of adjectives to describe this meeting. If you were there, you know; if you weren't, you missed a great one and should begin planning now to attend the 151st annual meeting in Orlando next October. I would like to express my personal thanks to all the ADA staff and volunteers for the first–class treatment that I received at the Annual Meeting. Mahalo nui loa.

I hope you take advantage of this month's follow–up article on the results and analysis from the Dental Economics®/Levin Group 2009 Annual Practice Survey. Part 2 gives you a snapshot of how your practice stacks up against others in the areas of overhead, staff wages, procedure mix, and doctor satisfaction. This data also reflects how the dental community has fared through the past 12 months of economic turmoil. It is times like these that we find out just how resilient and resourceful we are, and I am thrilled to report that dentistry has held its own. This information will be most useful if you take it to heart and start working on ways to improve your practice so it is well–positioned when the economy recovers. I think we will see a brighter picture in 2010! A big thanks to Dr. Roger Levin and the members of the Levin Group team for their expertise and supervision in this annual survey. Look for the fee survey in the December issue.

In September, I attended the Greater St. Louis Dental Society's Mid Continent Dental Meeting. This is my hometown dental organization that I have belonged to since graduating from dental school. It is always great to see old and new friends at this very friendly meeting. One of my favorite speakers, Deborah Nash, was on the program, so I spent some time in her seminar for team members. She is always full of energy and very entertaining as she teaches the team how to create a better practice. I was really taken by one of her comments: “If you cannot endorse the doctor, you need to move on and find another job!” She repeated the sentence for emphasis. I often speak to team members, and hear them talk about how their doctor does not have staff meetings or morning huddles. Now I have a new answer for them. Thanks, Deborah! Keep up the great work!

I was a presenter at the Northern California Dental Association meeting in San Francisco, thanks to my friend, Dr. Dennis Shinboro. On Friday, I gave two sold–out workshops on “Easy Provisionals.” My executive assistant, Genna Leutzinger, was my able assistant for this workshop. She made all the models, and carefully packed them and carried them out to the meeting. She arranged for 3M to provide the materials necessary for the workshops, and she set up the room. We tried a new setup that involved setting up the tables in a horseshoe shape. It really worked out well, allowing me to teach within the horseshoe and have easy access to all the participants at the same time. I don't know why we did not think of this before. Thanks for the idea, Sandy! My host, Dr. Steve Brattesani, pitched right in by picking us up at the hotel with all our gear, helping with the setup, and working with the attendees during the workshop. A huge thanks to you, Steve! On Saturday, I spoke to 500 dental assistants in the morning and 500 in the afternoon. I love speaking to them because they are so engaged and very interactive with lots of questions and comments.

I was in Atlanta for the great flood in late September. I have never seen so much rain in such a short period of time. Each year, the Hinman Society gives its members three free CE programs as a “thank you” for volunteering during the annual Hinman Dental Meeting. I was in Atlanta to speak at one of those programs. Even with the weather, more than 200 people attended. A very nice buffet was served after my seminar for all the attendees. I was able to connect with many old friends and make some new ones. I would like to particularly thank Dr. Roy McDonald who was the program chair and my host. Thanks for the invitation and particularly for picking me up at the airport in that awful weather. That was really first class treatment. Those southern folks really know how to do things well!

Later that week, I traveled to El Paso to speak all day at the El Paso Dental Conference. The last time I spoke in El Paso was in 1999, and my host was Dr. Ed McElroy, who told me a great story about losing weight and getting in terrific shape with a weightlifting program. I was so fascinated with his story that he became the subject of the cover story for our May 2000 issue. A couple of months before my program, Ed called to say that he would be my host again in 2009! He was an extraordinary host! He arranged to have me picked up at the airport by a limo and taken to my hotel. He picked me up for dinner, and we met his wife and son and a neighbor at their favorite watering hole and restaurant, which was delightful. He brought me from the hotel to the meeting and watched over me all day, and then got me to the airport to make an early connection so I could sleep in my own bed that night. Thanks, Ed, for a wonderful time in El Paso!

Don't miss the biggest surprise of the issue. Dr. Mike Schuster plays Santa to our readership in a very generous way. You may not know too much about Dr. Schuster, and you may wonder why I am writing about him in DE. Mike is a practicing dentist, but he also is director and CEO of the Schuster Center. The center is the first business school for dentists. I took my team to the center in the late 1980s, when I was transitioning out of a group practice and back to a solo practice. The training that we received over a two–year plus program was instrumental in helping us to produce more, collect it all, treat the patients we liked, have fun, and get well on my way to financial independence. I tell you all this because Mike is offering you a chance to peek under the tent to see how the Schuster Center could help your practice. Be sure to go to page 80 to see what's in your stocking. You won't want to miss this opportunity!

This is the time of year that we pause to give thanks. I have many things to be thankful for this year: for my wife Sue, the love of my life, who keeps the home fires burning as I travel; for my family; for my faith in God; for the gift of life; and for all God's gifts. I am thankful for the many prayers that have given my daughter–in–law, Shawn, strength in her fight against ovarian cancer. I am thankful for this great profession of dentistry; for all my authors, particularly my columnists; for this great country; for those who protect and defend our country's Constitution; for the members of the military who keep us safe; for liberty, honesty, and integrity; and for all the readers of DE. In these perilous times at home and abroad, God bless and keep us all!

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor — e–mail: [email protected]
Toll–free phone number: (866) 274–4500

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