DEBRA MILLER | DIRECTOR OF COACHING
If you could magically reside in patients’ minds as endodontic conditions develop, you would see a pattern of behavior develop. On the balance, considering the general population of patients, when do most patients take action and seek out diagnosis and treatment?
● In stage 1, patients might notice very mild initial symptoms: a twinge or something feels distinctly “off” at times. Most patients will be dismissive of initial symptoms unless they are exceptionally proactive and dentally educated.
● In stage 2, symptoms progress to a steady concern: there is a growing discomfort that distracts them regularly. Some patients will seek out care, but many will “watch and wait”, and perhaps use OTC treatments to minimize symptoms or search the web for home remedies and advice.
● In stage 3, discomfort escalates into pain: an ever-present throb and ache makes them unhappy and disturbs their sleep. Many patients will reluctantly realize that treatment is needed, although some cling to the false hope that the situation will resolve itself without effort, cost or intervention.
● In stage 4, pain becomes severe and hard to bear: they are in crisis to find emergency relief as soon as possible. Patients make emergency calls to their GP, and their GP makes an emergency referral to the endodontist.
Considering how frequently we see emergency patients in endodontic practices, it’s a pretty clear sign that human nature is often biased towards waiting until pain is constant and the state of crisis is compelling.
Physician, heal thyself
At Endo Mastery, we see the same pattern in doctors with respect to their practices and lives. Some are proactive and vision-oriented, but many doctors are motivated to call us because symptoms in their practice and life are causing growing discomfort.
There are a wide range of symptoms that start out as a twinge but, as time passes, escalate to become greater concerns. Common ones include:
● Stress around debt or cash flow
● Decrease in energy or not having fun
● Business or team management burdens
● Team drama or poor team dynamics
● Desire to work less without sacrificing income
● Frustration from lack of growth, desire to grow
● Loss of a key referrer or competitive pressures
● Changing life goals and adapting the practice
● Difficulty training the team
● Desire to improve lifestyle and income
● Feeling a lack of opportunities or resources
Waiting until you reach a point of crisis undermines everything you are working for. If something is needling you to the point where you are worried about it every day, carrying the stress around with you, and making it difficult to relax or sleep, then it’s clearly time to take action.
Visualizing Your Future
A great exercise is to think of what you want your practice and life to be like in 5 years. That is enough time to change literally everything and bring your practice and life into alignment with your ideal vision. But a lot of doctors don’t do this because they feel they don’t have enough opportunities, resources or control to achieve their desired outcome.
You don’t really know, however, until you dig in and start to take action leading to a solution. So, that is useful advice that we can learn from your patients: Don’t ignore the voice in your head until you’re in crisis.