You are on page 1of 9

Sorna Taghizadeh

Research Assessment #4

Date: November 17th, 2016

Subject: Dentistry

MLA or APA Citation: Reinitz,RichardJ."6RulesThatIHaveLearnedinMyLifeasaDentist."



In order to do well in my future doing this career, it was beneficial to get some tips and

lessons from a dentist who has been practicing for 25 years. In the article, Richard J. Reinitz

mentions 6 rules he has learned in his life as a dentist. This applies to my field and my fate in

this career by helping me learn lessons and rules before I step foot into it. The rule I found most

beneficial was when he mentioned that you have Let go.

I learned that there is no substitute for education or experience. Everyone comes out of

dental school as equals. To be different, it requires training, continuing your education, and

being willing to continue to experiment. It was not surprising to read how our greatest lessons

come from our failures. I can learn a lot from this as I often feel defeated after a failure but it

should only push you to try harder and not make the same mistake again.

Some other information he taught me was that you have to actually care. Bedside

manner is very important and makes a world of a difference. Although many dont realize but

treating a patient is not just a diagnosis and a solution. A patient has to see that the doctor

cares for them to get better, not only receive money. Showing you care will be crucial to my life

in and out of this career, as it will be a part of my everyday life.

Also you will be running a business, and while most like to think of it as other than just

money, if you do not make a profit you will be bankrupt. Although discouraging to hear, it is

important to keep a tight schedule on the budget and keep track of everything. It is not

Sorna Taghizadeh

necessary to buy all the latest toys. However, it is necessary to invest in new equipment and

training in order to improve the practice. Finding a balance between this will be challenge, but

will time and practice I should be able to get the hang of it in my future. You should also not

waste time. You only have a certain time you are open each day, so the time must be

maximized. The author mentioned how as a new doctor you will be astonished at how much

time you will waste. Finding a common ground between everything in your life is difficult but it is

very crucial to run an orderly office and keep making a profit, so it is important for my success.

Lastly, the rule I found most beneficial is to Let go. Personally, I have problems with

micromanaging everything and having a type-A personality doesnt help the problem. If you

become angry when little things dont go as planned, it will affect daily production. It is important

to remember your team members have lives of their own and emergencies happen. You should

give people their responsibilities and trust them to do it right. Making sure you give your

employees and team members benefits demonstrate that you care and is pivotal. Although this

may take some practice for me to perfect, by knowing this beforehand, I will start working

towards my goal earlier.

These rules are relevant to what my future will be like and things that will help me

succeed in running my own practice. By getting some insight of how my life will once I start

working, I feel like it will really help me not make the same mistakes that others have made and

prepare. Some of the information that was discouraging to me was learning how to balance

everything, although not surprising. However with practice, i know i will eventually be able to

handle the office easier.

After reading this article, I learned beneficial lessons for my future in dentistry. I have

concluded that it will take a lot of practice to run a smooth private practice but you will eventually

get the hang of it, so you should not give up.

Sorna Taghizadeh

6 rules that I have learned in my life as a dentist

by Richard J. Reinitz, DDS, MBA, FAGD

Disclaimer: I am not a leader in dentistry nor even one of the worlds greatest

dentists. But after nearly 25 years in dentistry, I have learned a few things. Here

are six rules that I would like to share with you.

Rule #1: There is no substitute for education and


All dentists are created equal when we graduate. From there, the differentiating

factor comes with advanced training, continuing education, and a willingness to

continue to learn and experiment. The greatest lessons we learn come from our


When I was in general practice residency at the Veterans Administration in

Philadelphia, my mentor, Dr. Alan Samet, taught me a vital lesson. As I struggled

to remove an impacted third molar - and ultimately had to be rescued by the

senior resident - Dr. Samet watched in bemusement. After the patient was

dismissed and I had been criticized by a senior resident for my mistakes, I sat

slumped in front of Dr. Samet. He asked what I had learned. With absolute

honesty, I told Dr. Samet that I now understood the valuable art of the referral! He

laughed and told me that, while the episode had been difficult for me to endure

(not to mention difficult for the patient), he assured me the mistakes I had made

Sorna Taghizadeh

would likely not be repeated - or at least I would make them less often. Indeed, Dr.

Samet was right. Ultimately, my failure taught me more than any success could


The memory of my failures has made me a better dentist, one who is more

humble and more aware of his limitations. Success is great but it is also a tonic.

Success can make you believe that you can do things that you should not do. A

little reality can go a long way.

Rule #2: Its always about the money

When I was still in my prosthodontic residency, I began moonlighting with only

an assistant and no front desk person. The office had large floor-to-ceiling

windows that overlooked the parking lot. A nicely dressed new patient came to

see me, and following a full series of X-rays and a complete examination, I

presented her with my treatment plan. I believe the total for the treatment plan

came to approximately $2,000. She had insurance, so the total would have been

reduced by the insurance benefit. But after telling me the cost was prohibitive,

she left the office.

Being the dentist as well as the front desk attendant, I watched as she entered her

car, a top-of-the-line new Mercedes with the temporary license plates still visible.

In seeing this, the message I received was that she did not value dentistry as

highly as she did her mode of transportation.

I think each of us has probably experienced similar situations or has been

presented with patients demanding that we treat them according to their

Sorna Taghizadeh

maximum insurance benefit. Some dentists might contend that we have to make

patients understand the value of good oral health. But the volume of what a

patient hears is directly proportional to the position dentistry ranks in the

patients value system.

Pain may move dentistry into a high-ranking position. But absent pain, we must

battle with a myriad of competing choices on which patients can spend their

income. Often items such as Christmas gifts, cruises, and cars are not only far

ahead of dentistry on the priority list, but they leave few dollars for anything else.

Sometimes patient decisions are made because of your presentation, you, or

your office. But most of the time, decisions are based merely on the amount of

money involved, or the fact that patients want to spend their money elsewhere.

Rule #3: You have to care

A family friend, who had a son who was to attend medical school, had a question.

Given the choice between two physicians - one who was clearly a recognized

leader in his field but with little or no bedside manner, or one who was quite

capable and possessed excellent bedside manner - this aspiring doctor wanted to

know which physician my wife and I would prefer? Both of us said the second

physician. My friends son was shocked at our answer and fully expected us to

choose the best. He asked why.

We told him that treatment of a patient is not limited to mechanical diagnosis and

treatment. A patient must believe that the person caring for him or her is not only

knowledgeable but cares whether the patient gets better or not.

Sorna Taghizadeh

A belief in ones caregiver is as important as the technical success of the

treatment. We have all had what we consider successful cases but unhappy

patients because we failed in our bedside manner. When a patient believes that

his or her physician or dentist does not care or believes that money is the

primary concern, the patient will get angry, and find fault - whether fault exists or


I still call my surgical and root canal patients the day after a procedure. While I

believe I have provided excellent care, more importantly, the call demonstrates

that I care more about that individual than his or her money. A patient who

believes he or she has received excellent care will be a happier, more

appreciative patient.

Rule #4: Let go

When I first went into private practice, I micromanaged everything, and became

angry when a team member had to take time off for illness, a sick child, or any

other reason. It was not that I was mean. I had large bills to pay, and when team

members did not work, my job became more difficult. Ultimately, this situation

affected daily production.

I wish I could tell you when I had my epiphany. But one day I realized that my

team members had lives of their own! I have been fortunate to have had the

privilege of hiring and being able to keep a team together for many years. The

team members know their jobs and responsibilities. I had to learn to trust them to

do what I paid them to do, then let them do it. I no longer hover around the front

Sorna Taghizadeh

desk, or constantly question staff if this or that is done. If one of the team

members needs time off, I grant it without question because they do their jobs

well and deserve my trust.

There are times when team members have to bring their children or grandchildren

to the office for one reason or another. At a younger age, I would have objected

and complained about the interference. Today, these children are welcome in the

office, and bring a smile to my face.

Team members only bring children to the office so they can keep working

because of their loyalty to me. They dont want to take off work, rather they want

to keep working. Since the team is like my second family, why shouldnt their

children always be welcome?

Team member benefits like sick leave, vacation leave, health insurance, and

retirement are more than just a cost center. These benefits demonstrate that you

care. In addition, they make your team happier and healthier. This is a much

greater payback than you can imagine.

Rule #5: Remember, it is a business

It would be nice to think of our practices in terms other than just money. But -

quite simply - if our expenses outpace our revenues, we will not be calling

ourselves anything except bankrupt. You should have an employee manual to

address issues like job descriptions, expected work hours, and benefits. Keep a

close eye on accounts receivable, and try not to overcommit to the latest

must-have toys.

Sorna Taghizadeh

At the same time, you must recognize the need to invest in new equipment and

training that will improve your practice. Also, the biggest factor in the production

of revenues is operating efficiently. You only have a certain amount of time each

day, so you must maximize the use of this time.

You should analyze how much time you need for treatment, then book

accordingly. It is OK to time treatment procedures to find out how much time is

being used. I think you will be surprised just how much time you waste. Dont

think this is a cold, calculated business. Patients will appreciate your being on

time and getting them out of the chair faster. Running an efficient and on-time

practice will make your patients understand that you value their time, too.

Rule #6: There arent any rules!

You must be guided by your principles and ethics. In other words, you need to do

what you think is right. But there is no harm in learning from others. Also, there is

no need to reinvent the wheel. If you have the chance to enter into an

agreement with an associate that looks promising, then do so.

Dont rush into a solo private practice. While a solo private practice has the

advantage of your being the boss, it also means you have sole responsibility for

everything from patient care to the water bill. When something goes wrong,

everyone will expect you to solve the problem because you are the boss.

Even if you have no better idea of how to rectify a situation than anyone else, that

is immaterial. You shoulder the burden alone. People often say to me how lucky I

am since I am my own boss and can set my own hours. The reality is that, while

Sorna Taghizadeh

all that is true, I also am responsible for my patients, team, the lab, my family, and

myself. That responsibility can create much worry and anguish as well as much


My final piece of advice is to find people with whom you share that worry and joy.

If you build a warm and caring environment in your practice and at home, you will

have a support system that allows you to succeed.