Monday, April 27, 2009

When I was an associate

I have to tell you that this is the third time I am writing this blog. Sometimes working with computers is so frustrating. I sometimes will put my thoughts down and save a draft and then, like Friday, I will come back to it when I have time to make the blog better. I worked on this draft for over an hour on Friday and then pressed the save button. Then it gave me an error signal and all my rewrite was lost. I was so frustrated I just left my computer.
Sometimes I will inadvertently hit the ENTER key and send in a blog that is half finished or doesn't make sense.
So it may appear sometimes that I am just too busy for the blog. But just know that if you don't get a blog on a certain day it is because I have just put my shoe through my computer monitor.

Real quick...I have watched a ton of movies.

Quantum of was pretty good. I found it very hard to believe that James Bond was not trusted by his superiors. The hole movie I kept thinking, "yeah, he has been an agent for 50 years and they are not going to trust him." and "why are they chasing their own guy?"
Then I saw a movie called Appaloosa.
It was western movie with Ed Harris, Renea Zellweger and Viggio Mortensen, the guy from History of Violence.
It was pretty good. The only thing I have with Westerns is that no one bathes for a long time and that kind of grosses me out. And they don't brush their teeth.
Then I saw Slumdog Millionaire.
I thought this movie was very good. You know that when I movie gets movie of the year it usually sucks to people like me and you (i.e. No History for Old Men) . But this one was pretty good. It had a bunch of no name actors (with the exception of one super model) in it and it was a disturbing tale of India and life without money in India. It was very redemptive, which I like.
The Visitors...very good. This movie is about illegal aliens. A man is thrown into a relationship with a couple of illegals and you really start to like the characters. But he gets pulled over by the cops and gets put in detention. Then the story on from goes from there.
Burn after Reading....did I tell you this movie sucked. DO NOT GET THIS MOVIE.
Pride and Glory....classic good cop against bad cop movie...pretty good.
Lakefront Terrace...A "fatal attraction" type neighbor makes the new people in the neighborhood miserable. I give it about a 5.5 out of 10.
The Electric Mist with Tommy Lee Jones and John Goodman. It was just okay.

Hey, as an you care what movies I watch? If you think this is a stupid part of the blog you can tell me. Remember you can comment as "anonymous" but be gentle I am sensitive when it comes to constructive criticism.

Okay topic of the day,
I wanted to do a series of blog about stories about me (go figure).
I wanted to write stories of when I was an associate.
I know what you are thinking...John I thought you work for your dad.
Well as you dentists know, you can't just bring someone in and think he is going to hit the ground running.
My father at the time was 50 years old when I graduated dental school. My dad wanted to have a two dentist practice waiting for me but how does a dentist create a two dentist practice. If you have 110% of your maximum you are going to make some people unhappy. Sure you can bring in a ton of new patients but it may be at the expense of your existing patients and there they go out the back door.
He had had an associate for one day a week to do his root canals and his extractions. This guy was not here to grow the practice. He was here to do the stuff my father didn't do, i.e. root canals and extractions and kids.
Now I was going to come into work two days a week. Partially because what this other dentist could do in one day it would take me two. Also in the down time I was to start marketing the practice (and I will get to how I did that later).
I then went out and got two other jobs.
One job was an associateship about 15 miles north of my practice. The other was one day a week and it was strictly capitation (for all you non-dental people this is a practice where the people come to this particular office because it is on their insurance).

I am going to talk to you about the associateship.
The dentist was a pretty good dude that had always had an associate. Same kind of thing my dad had always had. He wanted someone to produce, not market. I was there on Tuesdays and Thursdays and would do all the things he didn't want to do.
I would see all the kids and all the adults that acted like kids. I would see all the mean people.
I got to tell you about this doctor. As I think back on this time in my life I think very fondly of the nine months I worked with him.
But at the time I was working for him (I don't know if I was just a punk or I have forgotten all the negative things that went on in the office) I didn't have a lot of respect for him.
Maybe there was somethings that he did that maybe still wouldn't hold the mustard but now I think that I was pretty unfair toward him.
For instance, I didn't think he treated his staff all that great.
He was an introvert. He didn't have this warm personality. He didn't have a relationship with them and they never talked unless it was about the patient. He would finish with a procedure and go straight to the office.
Now, me being the young, good looking (if I don't say so myself), fun, new dentist, I would talk to everyone.
Now they would bitch to me about what they didn't like about the way the this dentist did things. They would complain and I am would join right in there with them.
I didn't abstain from the back stabbing.
I still think about that office. As much as things might not have been that great internally he gave me such an opportunity. I will never forget this.
I see him once in awhile and I try to always thank him for taking a chance with me.

Lets talk about doing stuff that doesn't hold the mustard. Now if you are avid reader you know I don't do well with cutting corners or doing things that are shotty.
Like if a group of your peers are around and they all look at your practice, would you have any issues showing them what you do?
I do everything at my office like people are watching. Not just people but other dentists.
Like doing veneers on patients in their 80's (and don't give me the "80 is the new 20" crap).
Like using bonding agent that doesn't work just because it is cheap.
Like using blue build-up material because you think the patient will desire the crown faster.
And of course over treatment.

Now, as I think back, it wasn't easy being an associate. Some of the reason I would talk to the staff is I wanted to be liked.
You all know how I have this gene (and most dentists do, especially young ones). The "make people happy at all cost" gene.
I don't know anything about dentistry except for the 15% that they taught me in school. So I and all the other newbie dentists are at the mercy of the older dentist.
Now if this dentist is not the nurturing type, who is going to teach you how to be a good dentist. I was basically flying without a chute. I had the mentality of a high school kid with a dental degree.
Now, what if you are working for that angry dentist? Yeah, you know who you are?
The guy that throws things, not so nurturing.
What if you are working for the dishonest dentist? The guy that you have "handshake" contract with. And he says I will pay you this per day and if you go over this amount then I will give you this.
Yeah, and when your paycheck comes it is drastically different than what you agreed on.
You confront the dentist and he/she says, "I never said that." How is that for shaping the future of dentistry?
How about the cheap dentist (I know that we are all cheap, present company included, but I am talking about the really cheap dentist)?
The guy who is digging through the trash to look for the possibility of a discarded instrument or upset about the amount of bonding agent the assistant is pouring out and is screaming about it in front of everyone.
I think this is a real problem. I know of only two dentists that bought into the practice they began with. Sure people have different personalities but mostly it is because of crap like the above.
By the way the above stories are all real accounts from my friends when they were associates.

This is getting a little long. I do want to tell you a bunch of funny stories from my youth. I am 40 now so I can say that. Like the time when I accidentally pulled some old ladies wig off in my first couple of months of practice. How was I suppose to know that when you put safety glasses on someone that was a possibility?

I would appreciate your stories as well. Also if you are a "boss" and have a funny story you can email me at

Have a great Monday,

ps The revision I did on Monday was much better than this one.
So blame not me.


Zac said...

Excellent tale, has inspired to get my own short dentistry stories down on paper, keep up the good work!

gatordmd said...

If you do get it down on paper, make sure you sent it to me.
And don't worry about "keeping them coming". I have tons more.
I appreciate your comments


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