At the beginning of a new year, it’s natural to reflect on the past year. It was my fourth year of practice in 2014 and I can see obvious progress from where I started, but I know I have a long way to go to become the clinician I want to be. I know I am exponentially better at communicating with patients than I was when I first graduated. I am a natural people-pleaser and I had a hard time at the beginning really drilling home (pun intended) all the treatment that would be optimal for each patient. No one likes to hear that they have cavities and I had a tendency to call every cavity “a small cavity.” I have learned my lesson, and now I tell patients what they need to hear, regardless of how I feel they will take the news.
I know my clinical skills also have improved; the area in which this is the most obvious is in endo. I am so much faster and more effective than I was four years ago. My RCTs look better on radiographs, and I sleep better at night knowing that the patient received a quality service. Sheer volume of teeth and practice, as well as several continuing education (CE) courses, are to thank for that improvement. Looking ahead, I have some personal resolutions to improve in myself as a person and as a dentist. My resolutions for 2015 include the following areas:
Time management: I will be having my first child in the spring. Right now, I consider myself good at time management, but it will be exponentially more important when I have a human being to look after. I hope I can still find the time to work out, take CE, and read. I am not fooling myself though, and I have limited expectations on how much “free time” I will actually have. Fortunately, I have a very helpful and accommodating husband.
Communication: When it comes to communication, especially for patients and staff, there is always room for improvement. I work in a group practice and I always enjoy hearing how other doctors describe treatments and post-op instructions—and generally how they speak with each patient. There is always a new way to approach things, and I have taken bits and pieces from various doctors and incorporated them into my own vernacular.
Clinical skills: As part of the Nebraska MasterTrack class, I will be taking CE on restorative and endo this year. If time and money permit, I also would like to take classes on implants and ortho. Time will tell what a newborn allows me to accomplish, so I am not getting my hopes up too high.
Budgeting: I need to get better at budgeting my personal finances. I am going to have to start paying for daycare in a few months, so my husband and I are going to have to make a few changes—mostly about buying things for our house and going out to eat—though we are actually fairly thrifty people to begin with. I also want to learn more about business finances. I am not currently in charge of any practice-related budgeting, but hopefully that will change in the future. Anything I can learn in the meanwhile will only help me down the road.
Happy New Year!
Sarah Meyer, DDS