By Gary J. Kloberdanz, DDS, MS
Orthodontics has certainly changed over the last 40+ years. When I entered practice in the mid-1970s, advertising did not exist, most orthodontists were male and being one’s own boss (running a practice) was the goal of most of my classmates and colleagues. However, some of the “old school concepts” I have experienced still apply today and can benefit both established orthodontists and the younger doctors, with the ultimate goal of preserving our extraordinary profession and serving our patients:
- Talk and shake hands with the established orthodontists in the area in which you have chosen to build your practice. This shows respect on the younger doctor’s part and may lead to a possible mentor relationship with that older doctor.
- Participate in study clubs, component, constituent and national orthodontic associations and societies, as you have become a perpetual student. In reality, one of the best parts of serving your profession will be the lifetime friends you will make as you personally stay informed and are on the cutting edge of what is happening in orthodontics.
- Always call the previous orthodontist about any complaining transferring patients. The phone is a powerful tool that can save many misunderstandings and problems. A wise man once said the phone allowed him to speak into the ear of another man anywhere in the world. Communication is the key!
- If a patient or parent complains or says anything critical or negative about their treatment and/or staff, address the issue immediately. If treatment is not going as planned, consider taking new records and scheduling a treatment consultation to discuss why and maybe changing or modifying the treatment plan.
- Avoid “puffery” (I.e., making claims that are false or misleading) on your website. Let your patients praise you. Say less and deliver more. Understand that marketing should have an educational purpose, which is better than advertising.
- When considering treating adults, confirm they are periodontally and restoratively ready to start treatment with their general dentist and/or periodontist. You will want to know from the general dentist his/her “restorative plan” after orthodontic treatment.
- Peer review is your friend. If a patient makes a complaint against a doctor, the doctor-driven peer review process may help you avoid a potential lawsuit. Also, do not let your ego get in the way of working with your component peer review committee.
We are blessed to serve our patients and profession. I hope you will find in this brief article a “pearl” you can apply in your practice as an orthodontist.
Gary J. Kloberdanz, DDS, MS has been a practicing orthodontist for more than 40 years and is the owner of Fort Morgan Orthodontic Center in Fort Morgan, Colorado. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.