Wow, last year blew by! I cannot believe we made it. Like Dr. Jackson said, we made it past the Mayan doomsday only to almost go crashing off the federal fiscal cliff. How did we all make it?
Since there are so many new bloggers, I will reintroduce myself. I am Joseph Joyce, DMD, MAGD, ABGD. I am 39 years old and graduated from the University of Florida College of Dentistry in 1999. I went right into the Navy, where I was a dentist for seven years. I completed two combat deployments: one in Fallujah, Iraq and one in the Persian gulf/North Arabian Sea. I am American Board of General Dentistry certified and received my Mastership in San Diego a few summers ago. I have been in private practice in Ocala, Florida with Dr. Scott Jackson for about six years now, where every day is a new challenge. I have three boys and have been married for almost 18 years.
Well, Dr. Gammichia has ridden off into the sunset and left Dr. Jackson and I at the controls. I hope we do not crash and burn. I got into this blog thing because I was amazed at how similar John’s adventures were to how I felt or what I was going through. It was almost scary at times. I will miss his tales, but so far, there have been several inserting new blogs. John will be missed but others I am sure will entertain us. Adios, John!
Last year was very interesting. We exceeded our financial goals on production and collections, but it really seemed to take a toll on the office. We stopped having fun and everything got stressful! It all started around the election time when we were having some obvious staff disharmony. It seems that the presidential election brings out the worst in people. The stress level gets kicked up a notch with patients, as well.
Staff members were mad and depressed, work was a drag, and everyone seemed to be on edge. No one was very happy with the way things were going. The practice was still growing and patients were happy. But the yin and yang, fung shei, and mojo were all out of sorts. Dr. Jackson and I tried to fix it. We finally broke down, swallowed our pride, and decided to bring in a team-building consultant.
Let me tell you that I think I can fix anything. It took me some time to give into the idea of flying someone in, paying a bunch of money, spending a lot of time, shutting down and losing production to resolve this issue. However, I knew it was important. We have a good staff and if work is not pleasant, they will not stay. Yes, people are replaceable. But you get to know people and become comfortable with them. I just hate to see them go if I do not want them to go. To add more drama, two of the employees are our wives! So there is no straightforward solution and it is a little harder to fire them if things get out of hand. I was concerned that it might get so bad as to threaten the partnership, and neither I nor Dr. Jackson wanted that.
We flew in a consultant from Dallas. We will call her “Dr. Panther”. She has a PhD in psychology and works primarily with dental offices, helping with teamwork and business management. She has a daily fee and you also take care of her food, lodging and transportation. She offered and decided to stay at my home (with my three boys) to save us a little money. We had several phone conversations prior to her coming and we got to know her some. I was still very skeptical but tried to keep an open mind. She sent surveys to the office asking all the employees to be brutally honest and to tell her what was good and what was bad at the office. She promised that all information would all be confidential and the doctors and management would never see it.
When Dr. Panther got here, she began having long, in-depth conversations with all of us individually and observed the office. She observed how we function and interact with each other and patients. Then we spend the next two days at an offsite conference area to work out our issues and reestablish our friendships and working relationships. It was very interesting to learn how we are all different and why that is good for the office.
We learned about confronting problems and working them out as well. We learned about boundaries and limits that we should respect. There were tears and hugs, and laughter. For some, the two days were mentally and emotionally draining. We learned more about each other and that we all meant well, but just were not on the same page.
The experience was truly refreshing and gave everyone a new outlook and attitude. We already feel like much more of a team and the workday goes so much better. I only wish I had decided to do this a long time ago.
We will have to continue to work on the changes. We know we will mess up at times, but we will have to keep pressing forward. Dr. Panther will continue to work with us for six months, giving guidance and checking up on us. Staff members have already called her with questions and issues.
Properly running a dental office with 18 people can be challenging sometimes. But with the right group it, can be very rewarding!
Have a great year and go Gators!