Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lessons Learned From Dentistry

Dr. Al Genis was lying in his patient chair in the operatory in which he had practiced for more than 40 years. I had worked with this energetic, respected community member for more than a decade when I joined and purchased his dental practice. His cancer-ridden body was exhausted, but his spirit was sparkling with enthusiasm. When I asked him what he would do differently in his career, he looked me dead in the eye and said, “Spend more time with my family.”

Back in 1988, when I received my MAGD, there was only one other Master in the 9th District Dental Society in New York State. On a mission, I introduced myself to Phil Morse, MAGD, and asked him the same question. Without hesitation, Phil said, “Spend more time with my family.” Thanks, Al and Phil.

Dr. Sam Unger taught me an important lesson on treatment planning. No matter what the case was about, he always started with, “If the patient...” I have found that there are many factors that go into a treatment plan. When it starts to get confusing, I remember that Sam taught me to always start with the patient’s needs." Thanks, Sam.

Dr. John Chandler taught me that, in order to get my diet under control, I had to accept that the piece of meat I ate was no larger than the palm of my hand. It introduced me to a concept that I must have missed during my childhood: portions!” Thanks, John.

Dr. Nathan Satler taught me about chemical dependency. It is a disease in which only the person with the illness can choose to help themselves. No matter how good a dentist or relative or friend I was, it was not something I could help with until that person owned their addiction. Thanks, Nathan.

Dr. David Goodman taught me to think about the whole person, not just the mouth. My two-year GPR at Brookdale Hospital Medical Center, in a Brooklyn ghetto, was very humbling. Despite the complexity of the cases, David had a way of making knowledge of the whole patient part of the solution and not part of the problem, paving the way to successful patient care. Thanks, David.

Dr. Angelle Casagrande taught me how appropriate use of benzodiazepines could make treatment easier and healthier for patients and for health care practitioners. In my patient population, lorazepam is just what the doctor ordered. One of my very apprehensive patients actually threw his anxiety-free arms around me and declared, “I love you, man!” Thanks, Angelle!

For my 60th birthday, my then 18-year-old daughter had a suggestion as the best gift to myself. “Why don’t you take a year and do nothing but work and see what it is you want to do with the rest of your life?” Thanks, Anna.

These are the most challenging times I have seen in my 35 years in private practice. The profession is evolving, and many are struggling to hang on. If you are finding yourself confused and bewildered on what to do with your career and life, downsizing worked well for us. In 1998, Dr. Don Mays taught me what was going to happen to the dental profession in the next fifteen years. We took his advice to heart. Downsizing and simplifying our lives has given us the life we always dreamed of. Thanks, Don.

Enjoy the journey,

Bob Oro, DMD, MAGD


Andy Alas, D.D.S. said...

Great advice Bob. Thanks for sharing.

The only one I didn't understand was your daughter's advice. Weren't you already working? Do nothing but work?

As a typical teenager maybe she just wanted the old man to spend LESS time with the family ;-)

Andy Alas,D.D.S.

Bob Oro, DMD, MAGD said...

Thanks for reading the blog and the question.
Remember that we are a community service based practice where we have never participated in any insurance or Delta type programs. Strictly fee for service on day of service.
We intended to become community leaders when we got here in 1996. By 2012 we were on the Hospital leadership group, the school district's site council, the Chamber's health committee, we had founded and lead the community's "Healthiest Town in America" initiative and I wrote a weekly column about life in general "Enjoy the Journey" for the Arizona Daily Star from 9/06 - 8/12.
My daughter suggested that we drop all the other stuff and just do dentistry for a while. So we did. We are both Delegates to the House of Delegates for Arizona Dental Association. (6 years). I write columns for the AzDA journal and of course the Blog for AGD.
So far we have decided to finally start writing our dental books.
I have a rough draft for "Dentistry's big business" It is based on the seminar, "Dentistry the Greatest Success story never told", that we gave at AGD Philadelphia 2 years ago. Citizens and dentists really need to understand the amazing job that our profession has done for the oral health of our country.
Debbie is gathering all of the info from the over 200 patients she(we) has done Dental Virtual Facelifts on. She has done the most amazing cases I have ever seen. She changes folks lives everyday. She presented DVF in Philly also.

Anyway hope this helps and we hope that you will find the joy that we have in downsizing our lives (practice and home) and getting to enjoy those important things in our lives.
Dentistry is truly the profession where you can have it all.

Best of luck!

Enjoy the Journey,
Bob and Debbie

Anonymous said...

I would love to see : In 1998, Dr. Don Mays taught me what was going to happen to the dental profession in the next fifteen years. what it was that Don Mays believed was happening to the profession. I graduated in still in active practice...and the changes have overwhelmed me...but I still do what I can. Now 80 years old.

Bob Oro, DMD, MAGD said...


Thank you for reading the blog and for your question.

Dr. Don Mays was the author of the book “Managed Dental Care” He is considered the godfather of dental benefits industry.
Back in 1998 he gave a seminar in Los Angeles where he predicated that private practice would have 30% of the practices with DHMO, 80% would be reliant on some discount managed care plan (PPO etc.) to survive, that 95% would have a high end PPO/ Delta discount dental plan and that only 5% would be completely free from the third party payment plans intrusion.
I can remember sitting in many “traditional dentistry” lectures at the time ( I was the only traditional dentist in Don’s seminars back in the day as the war with managed care intruding into what was fee for service profession was at its height) where all the ADA/AGD gurus where predicting that it would be 50-50 instead of what Don said 95%- 5%. In other words 50% participating in 3rd party and delta and 50% would remain fee for service/ no third party dependency. It has come to fruition that 95% of practices are involved with 3rd party discount/Delta plans.

It was at that time that Debbie and I decided to make whatever changes and innovations that were necessary to be part of the 5% of private dental practices that would remain independent and free from intervention from 3rd parties payers.

It has lead us to a life we could never have imagined. It made us get out of our comfort zone and explorer new areas in our profession and life.

Hope this helps.

Enjoy the Journey,
Bob and Debbie

Dr. Lawrence M. said...

Dr. Bob Oro reminded me of a few really important things and I am in the process of downsizing so spend more time with my family. Thanks Bob.
Larry Stanleigh


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