Dentistry is Indeed a ‘People Game’

Dentistry is Indeed a ‘People Game’

Dr. Omer Reed has been a wonderful friend and mentor for almost 30 years now. For many Dentists, Omer needs no introduction. Over the past 50 years, he has spoken at nearly every major dental meeting in the world. For those of you who are not familiar with Omer, I’m thrilled to introduce him to you. Omer taught me that dentistry is a ‘people game’. He’s right!

In my courses I define how success in dentistry today requires Mastery of three distinct realms; 1) Clinical Excellence, 2) Business Acumen, and 3) The ‘Behavioral’ or ‘People’ Side of Dentistry. I talk about these three realms as a three-legged milk stool where all three legs must be present or the stool topples over. It also helps if all three legs are equal length so the stool is stable. Of the three realms, it is often the ‘Behavioral’ or ‘People’ Side of Dentistry that gets short thrift.

I am reminded of a concept that I first heard about in the classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. He taught that people will have a hard time remembering what you did or what you said, but they would forever remember how you made them feel. Not sure I’ve ever received better advice.

Omer is an absolute master at helping patients feel special. While some of this comes naturally to Omer, he worked at it. I first saw this in person when I was observing in Omer’s practice in the mid-‘80’s.

Remember that in the mid ‘80’s we did not have the technology we have today. Before the digital advances of today, Omer had a rolodex file with a card devoted to every patient in his practice. After each appointment Omer would jot notes on the rolodex card about each patient. Things like the name of their dog, their hobbies, children’s names, interests, likes, dislikes, or anything that came up in conversation during their visit. Over the years these rolodex cards became a wealth of personal information about every patient.

Omer would arrive at his office about a half hour before the morning huddle. He’d get a copy of the daily schedule and look up the rolodex card on every patient he was seeing that day. This was his homework and how he prepared for the day.

This preparation (along with a genuine interest in his patients) provided Omer with an incredible connection to his patients. If I were in his office for an appointment he might say:

“Great to see you Gary. How’s that daughter of yours Lexi? Let’s see she must be about a junior down at UA now, right?” Brilliant! Simply brilliant.

While there is no substitute for genuinely caring about your patients, today there are amazing tools that make the task of remembering your patients easier than ever. Omer did it with a rolodex card and a pen. Today, the tools are endless.

Let me encourage you to Master the ‘People” Side of Dentistry. The short cut is to work at making every patient feel special. Not easy, but ever so rewarding on so many levels! Keep Smiling!