I’m going to give you a little bit of backstory before I dive into the deep end of my message today.
I grew up in the country. I mean country—three stoplights in the entire town. When the McDonald’s opened, it was the highlight of an entire year of our childhood (ain’t that scary?), and we had one elementary, middle, and high school. Needless to say, everyone knew everyone. It was a tight-knit community.
Fast-forward to college in a bigger town and dental school in a major metropolitan city. Nearing dental school graduation, I weighed my options and decided to return to the city closest to where I grew up, only I wanted to be in the middle of the action. Young, single, and enjoying life, I chose to live in a downtown loft, five minutes from the social scene, 60 minutes from work. I enjoyed the city life and all that comes with it, but I was missing something with my patients. I was missing a connection with most of them that I didn’t understand until much later, when a lightbulb went on—I was missing the community connection.
I remember growing up, playing baseball seemingly every day for eight months out of the year, from ages 5 to 21. Dad was always the coach, and everyone called him “Doc.” I shook it off as nothing, but now I get it. He wasn’t just there just for us; he was there connecting with the dads/moms/kids/grandparents of his community. And he did it well. He’s run a bustling practice in that little old town with one McDonald’s (we have a Bojangles’ now—whoop, whoop!) for 30 years, and most of his patients know him from the ball field, grocery store, church, or gym.
There’s something different when patients get to know you outside of the office. It brings about a deeper level of confidence and trust in you as a practitioner, doctor, and friend. It’s a great way to build a patient base, as well as to do good for others around you. You just can’t beat it.
So my wife and I recently decided to dive in. We are making the move out near the country. It’s a big change, but I am excited to get involved with the same patients to whom I’ve said, “Hey, how’s the weather?” for years. (That’s my go-to question when I don’t have anything else to say to a patient.)
I’m excited to see people on the weekends and have them crank open their jaw, point to No. 18, and ask what I can do for it.
We have an awesome job. We really do. People always will need dental care, but, more importantly, we do some great work for people in pain, in need, or in desire of a beautiful set of chompers.
I’ve made the plunge, and I’m headed for the deep end. Hopefully, I don’t drown!
Donald Murry III, DMD