DR. ACE GOERIG
OWNER & CO-FOUNDER
There’s an old story about a psychology professor holding up a glass of water and asking the class how heavy it is. The students call out their answers, ranging from 8 ounces to a pound or two. After all the guesses have been made, the professor finally says, “The right answer is that it depends on how long I hold it.”
She continued, “If I hold it for a few minutes, it is very light. If I hold it longer, an hour or so, then my hand will start to feel tired. If I hold it all day, my arm will be sore and aching. And, if I hold it day after day without stopping, it will feel like an incredible burden that takes all my energy.”
Now think about your practice in that context. If you are stressed every day, if you have financial worries, if you are constantly interrupted or distracted, and if there is always some kind of team or business issue to deal with, then every day is going to feel very heavy. That’s when doctors start dreading going to the office in the morning and counting the years until they can escape into early retirement.
A great day for the doctor should be free of the heaviness of these concerns. It should be stressless, productive and enjoyable from your arrival in the morning to your departure at the end of the day. While there are many parts of the practice that can be optimized to contribute to great days, for the doctor it comes down to two primary objectives: improving clinical focus and doctor flow.
Clinical focus is your ability to concentrate without interruption during a patient treatment, which is how you should be spending most of your time in the office. Ideally, once you begin treatment, you should not have to look up or away from the microscope until treatment is completed.
The secret to great clinical focus is well-trained dental assistants who are completely knowledgeable in your clinical methodology and preferences for routine cases, which is about 90% of the cases you do. Your assistants should be able to anticipate every step of a routine procedure, which means they are ready with everything you need at the exact moment you ask for it, including being ready for all the predictable complications that can occur, such as a perforation or to begin an apico.
Great clinical focus means that you don’t get interruptions from outside the treatment room, the assistant never has to leave your side during treatment or hunt for supplies, and you have worked out the choreography of how everything is handed to you so you never need to break focus with the microscope. All these little things add up and by optimizing your coordination with assistants, you can save a ton of time in every clinical procedure and never feel rushed.
By comparison, doctor flow is what happens between patient treatments. Ideally, when you complete a patient’s treatment and exit the treatment room, the next patient is ready for you to begin. The assistant of that patient is waiting for you outside the treatment room to brief you on their preliminary assessment of the patient’s symptoms.
When you walk into the treatment room, you can spend a minute or two establishing rapport with the patient, and then you can begin. Your preferred imaging view are already displayed on the monitor. Because your assistant is highly trained, you can “trust and verify” their assessment, rather than beginning from scratch with the same diagnostic questions to the patient that they have already answered for the assistant.
The secret to great doctor flow is mastering clinical focus, so you have a clear understanding of how much treatment time you need for each case. Then, between patient scheduling and arrival with administrator and patient preparation in the treatment room by your assistants, you should develop very smooth efficient movement between patients and cases.
Great days for the doctor
Ideally, the doctor should be in treatment rooms and focused on diagnosis and treatment delivery. Patients should be scheduled with sufficient time for the doctor to complete cases with high clinical focus and efficiency, without being rushed, and without the doctor losing flow and waiting between patients. Everything else should be handled by your highly trained team effortlessly and automatically.
A great day for the doctor is when they can just be the doctor and have fun practicing endodontics and helping patients. With practice coaching, many doctors tell us that even though they are growing and completing more cases than before, their practices (like that glass of water) feel lighter than ever.
Endo Mastery Practice Coaching can help you have great days in your practice. For more information, visit https://endomastery.com/practice-and-team-coaching/