Mistakes Made — Lessons Learned in Owning a Dental Practice – Dealing with Isolation

Here is a another guest blog from our client Dr. Lurie.

It seems to
me that there is a danger to dentistry that usually is never addressed.  This pertains to isolation and lack of
socialization.  Dentistry by its’ very
nature is singular in that the doctor practices within himself to the very best
of his ability.  He reports to his
office, usually alone and if he is in solo practice, his interactions are with
his patients and staff.  However, his
inner thought processes, decision making, and perhaps his business decisions
are made in a very narrow environment.  Does this sound like isolation?  To some degree, I think it is.  If he is in a group practice, the isolation
is less but still present as regards his talent, self criticism, how he melds
with his colleagues and staff.  Is he
holding up his end of the workload, does the staff warm to him as much as his
associates and so forth? It is difficult to write about this because it
requires the same type of introspection that I am trying to bring attention to
and perhaps solve.
Other health
care professionals are in a different environment with hospital colleagues,
much larger staffing, a general air of activity and motion, fellow
practitioners available to discuss a case or personal issues and all other
social activities that a group situation encompasses. Just being a dentist
requires isolation in the field (mouth) that we work in, and the narrowness of
our area of expertise (in the good sense) and the necessity to bring a critical
eye to our work.  As has been said many
times, there is an art to dentistry as well as the science of dentistry.  This might be one of the areas that
differentiates us from other areas of health care providers.    When
we are in a non-dental atmosphere (party, dining, sports etc), many dentists
find it difficult to talk about anything other than dentistry.  How many of us have said that I don’t want to
go out with a bunch of dentists and talk
all night? How many wives have said the same thing or that in going
out, feel that it is part of the job  and not a fun or relaxing evening?
Over my
fifty years, I have had these thoughts and also the arguments with my wife
about this type of evening or even the general atmosphere of  “dental
Fortunately, I
confronted this problem early on and discussed it at length with my CPA at one
of our many meetings.  By facing the
issue I was able to broaden my connections with the “outside
world”.  Hobbies were a big
part.  I am an amateur photographer, and
now in my retirement, assist a professional photographer on his many
shoots.  My church activities certainly
increased my socialization and again, in retirement, I am active and engaged in
many outreach programs which require socialization.  It is interesting to note that in these
non-professional groups, I am looked to for guidance and expertise.  I think this comes from the education and
stature that we all possess but don’t realize that we have.  These examples, of which there are many, have
helped immensely with the social interaction with my fellow dentists and
something I started doing and living long before I retired.  We actually have other things to discuss,
question, ponder, and deliberate besides the mouth. 
Dentistry is
our center and our love, but it can narrow our scope if we let it.  It should be number one during our work day,
during out continuing education time and certainly in our relationships with
colleagues.  However, be aware of
becoming too narrow and don’t be afraid to get advice from those who know you
and love you.  These are just some
thoughts… it seems to me. 
mistakes made and lessons learned next time.
Dr. Donald
B. Lurie, DDS
phone:  717-235-0764
cell:       410-218-2229

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