COVID-19 created a ton of change for us in dentistry. Being closed for three months has its own share of challenges, financially, mentally, and organizationally. Coming back was interesting, especially with new rules, new PPE, and issues bringing our staff back. But for most of us, I think, the patients were happy to be back in our offices, taking care of outstanding dental work, getting their over-due teeth cleaned and gums probed to show the inflammation from months of neglect. We saw a surge of patients asking for our services and we were, finally, respected for what we deliver.
My office re-opened in June post COVID closures, and as I sit her mid October, I have a bad gut feeling, but not regarding COVID. And my gut feelings are usually correct. Like when I turned a patient away one time because my gut told me to, and it turned out he was a litigious mess; the next dentist he went to is still suffering from this guy’s behaviour, and on top of which, this a$%hole then files a complaint to the governing body. I feel for Dr. A.
That’s what I find wrong with this system. We can’t warn other dentists when we know a patient is going to be an issue. We simply forward their records, glad they are out of our hair, but now they are off to abuse another. And we say nothing. That needs to change.
And then there was a time, I was in my twenties in Dallas, walking into an elevator, and a guy runs in behind me as the door is closing. Gut feeling jumps in and makes my arm stop the door from closing and as I step out, the guy says: “oh, little girl afraid of an elevator” and he shrieks from his own stupid attempt at a laugh. Later, I found out there were three assaults in an elevator before they caught this guy, so I thank you Gut!
There was so many other times, that when I feel that feeling, I know it’s right. And this time I feel it again. The changes, the work we’ve been putting in to make our offices better, safer for our patients, and more organized and prepared for the next wave, all that work is going to be ignored. I am sensing patient behaviour changing. When they first came back to our offices post closures, they were happy to be here, happy to be back in our office and happy to receive the dental treatment we recommended. But now, almost four months later, I feel they are going back to their old ways; their constant questioning of what we recommend, their insurance dependence, and the misplaced blame when something does not go exactly the way they want it to. It’s not yet the way it used to be, but my gut is telling me I need to act now, before they do go back to that way that gave us all stomach ulcers. So Gut, what do I do?
We need to change. We need to transform our practice, our business, ourselves. The stress that comes from running a dental practice, especially the way we did before COVID, is costing us too much. Mentally, I am exhausted. And it doesn’t take much anymore. One email whining about why their insurance didn’t cover something I did, and the entire day falls apart for me. Or maybe I am just not cut out for this. Maybe you are tougher, more resilient. But frankly, it pisses me off. I work so hard. I deliver above and beyond. I build beautiful arches out of falling apart, broken down carcasses of teeth that have been filled and refilled with crap for decades. Look at the ugly befores and stunning afters! But wait! The insurance person says no, there was not enough damage to warrant a crown, and boy, they MUST be right! Forget the fact that there was nothing but decaying rotten mess in there before… the insurance person MUST know more than I do!
Justify this, Dr. Dentist!!! Why didn’t you just fill it???
Fill what??? There was nothing left to actually “fill”. Can’t fill a cup if you don’t have surrounding walls!
But the insurance says…
We need to change. And not individually. As a profession. I have never heard someone question the fee of a cardiologist. You need a new heart? You go to the best one, you don’t question their fees. Oh, your liver has a tumour on it? Does my insurance cover your fee, Dr. Surgeon? You don’t pose that question, do you? Did you get fillers and botox? Your face looks twenty years younger? Yes, and my Doctor gave me a cash deal because my insurance doesn’t cover looking great! NOT!!!
All my friends are filled up, botoxed smooth, waxed off, and manicured on, and there is no insurance in the world that covers these. They waltz around with their Chanel purses, Lulu outfits, and Prada shoes, but God forbid they pay an additional 50 bucks for a crown that will last twenty years of their chewing. Their shoes, purses, and manicures will be changed over several times, while my crown shines bright year after year, but Dr. Agatha, that insurance says….
It’s time to transform. And unite. Join me in the shift to change how we practice, how we run our business, how we communicate with our patients, so that we can transform and be respected for what we do. Join me in that conversation. Click here to become part of our group: Shifting Dentistry.