It’s widely known that the first Thursday and Friday of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, known as “March Madness” (err, March Sadness now that my team is already out of it), are two of the most unproductive days of the year for American businesses—especially now with the advent of live Internet streaming. Good luck getting that project done with a split computer screen playing four games at the same time! If you’re OK with that, it’s also one of the most fun times of the year.
Watching these games, I get the most joy not in seeing the superstar that puts up 30 shots to score his beloved 20 points a game, but the camaraderie, unselfishness, and teamwork that the elite teams have. Even for the mid-majors looking for that big program-defining upset, it’s the teams that pass, defend, talk, and move as one unit that advance to the further rounds.
The same can be said about our dental teams. That teamwork and togetherness is what gets us through the day without pulling our hair, our assistant’s hair, or our patients’ hair out. Without it, we’d be hard-pressed to get hygiene patients in and out on time, and have rooms cleared for our next restorative case—not to mention, be able to leave work on time and head home to our families. When your team has its system down, man, is it pretty to watch!
But it takes work—a lot of it. It takes communication—even more of it. And it takes a willingness to put the team ahead of the individual. As your team grows larger, so do the breakdowns in communication and effort, and, sometimes, this results in problems within the team, and visible, palpable issues that the patients notice. So let’s outline the starting lineup of the perfect dental team, one that could punch its ticket to the Final Four:
Starting at point guard, from a dental school near you, standing not-too-tall, but with loupes to see the minute details of that inlay prep—Dr. Dentist! He/she sets the pace of play, “dribbles the ball up the court,” controls the team, calls out plays. He/she is the leader, and if he/she doesn’t initiate the communication or teamwork, the team won’t win—it will be bounced from the tourney early.
At shooting guard, our “right-hand man” and partner in crime—the dental assistants! These high-scorers sit face-to-face with us all day, every day. Communication, teamwork, flow is paramount or the offense won’t work. They create their own offense sometimes, working on their own, keeping the team moving. Watching a seasoned dentist and assistant work is like seeing the best backcourt in the country pass and score with ease.
At forward, our teeth-cleaning, oral hygiene-instructing superstar—the dental hygienists! These players can score on their own, but it takes the entire team to keep the offense going. X-rays, medical histories, treatment planning, perio charting, and hygiene checks—it takes the shooting guards and point guard to open up the court and allow them to run their offense in the way only they can.
And, at center, the do-it-all with a smile on her face at all times—the patient care coordinators! These workhorses (that sounds bad, but it’s meant as a compliment) are the backbone of our team. You can have the most prolific guards and forwards known to mankind, but without a competent center, good luck. You won’t win a single game; geez, you may not even have jerseys to wear! They often have to make their own offensive or defensive play calls. They communicate with the rest of the team and really set the outline for how things flow.
If you don’t get all of my basketball jargon, the moral of my lesson is that it takes all parts—several different players—communicating, giving 110 percent effort, and working together as an efficient team to succeed on a daily and a long-term basis. We have to be positive and pick up teammates when they’re “not having a good game.” We can’t be a one-man team. These are all lessons that coaches are, without a doubt, telling their players before these big matchups, and they are ones we can also apply to our own dental teams.
Enjoy the madness everyone!
Donald Murray III, DMD