Paul Homoly, DDS
"Ima gonna tell you why the future of dentistry belongs to women."
I approached a 40-something professional woman at a pool party and asked, "Would you feel comfortable going to a woman dentist?"
She replied, "Comfortable - are you kidding? I think I`d prefer a woman dentist!"
"Because a woman instinctively knows what another women needs, feels, and thinks."
Women dentists have a golden opportunity, and men dentists can learn a lot from them. I know I`m risking stereotyping both men and women dentists. But in 10 years of practice consultation - and especially in my collaboration with Dr. John Gray on the video "Mars and Venus in the Dentist`s Office" - I`ve had many occasions to observe and reflect on the differences between men and women dentists.
The trend in dentistry is toward elective procedures, and case acceptance for elective procedures that has "a woman`s touch" is a big advantage. Women are better at and more willing to build relationships than men, and it`s relationships that sell elective procedures!
A woman`s touch is something you can see in her relationships, her appearance, and her skills. Women are great communicators - they ask questions, build rapport easily, are good listeners, enjoy giving compliments, and easily express emotion.
Women are looking for harmony. Men are more interested in proving their expertise and are prone to show how much they know. A woman is less likely to use jargon than a man, thus removing barriers and building trust.
Women look good and looking good creates the impression of being good. Women know how to ask for help without feeling weakened. Unlike so many men dentists who see them selves as "rugged individuals" who want to go it alone, a woman can create a support network that can help make the cash register ring.
A woman`s intuition is her empathy, and it`s earned her the societal stereotype of being kinder, softer, and gentler - all powerful tools for a dentist. Empathy leads to building a more complete picture of what`s going on inside the minds of patients and being able to anticipate another`s needs.
Jan, a friend of my wife, told me, "When I got on the other side of 40, I got tired of men doctors. You have to draw them a picture."
Jan and millions of women just like her are at the center of the target market for elective dental/ health care. Talk to these women and ask them, and you`ll hear that, as they age, they are more likely to prefer the empathy demonstrated by women health-care providers. Can a man show empathy? Of course, but women know that empathy for another woman is instinctive. That`s hard to compete with, boys!
The down-side of a woman`s empathy is that a woman can grow too close to patients and staff, becoming vulnerable to sabotage and jealousy.
In Women to Women, Judith Briles says women are more covert and indirect in unethical behavior, especially to other women. Briles says that women are 30 percent more likely to behave unethically to other women than they are to men!
What`s the message to women dentists? As Gray, author of the best-seller, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, says, "Be careful about being one
of the girls with your staff and/or your women patients. Look to relationships outside of the office to meet your personal needs."
The definition of success is changing. I believe that when the brass ring of success is viewed as having a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle and quality relationships, it will be a woman who`s wearing it!
For more information on women dentists, contact The American Association of Women Dentists at (800) 920-2293 or by e-mail at [email protected].
"Isabelle necessary to wake you up to changes in dentistry?"
Dr. Homoly is author of Dentists: An Endangered Species - A Survival Guide for Fee-for-Service Care. He has practiced restorative dentistry for 20 years. He is president of Innovative Practice Solutions, helping thousands of dentists implement reconstructive dentistry through his hundreds of continuing-education workshops and seminars. Dr. Homoly can be reached at (794) 342-4900 or via e-mail at [email protected].