In this digital age, the internet amplifies the voices of our patients, for good or bad. With a simple click of a button, their thoughts become public, shaping the world’s perception of your practice. You can’t let the fear of a vengeful patient prevent you from doing the dentistry you want to do, though—you simply need to fall back on your core values and let them guide your behavior. It may seem like something that doesn’t have anything to do with the problem, but Kirk recently interviewed Katrina Sanders, who firmly believes that this is precisely why we need core values. Your core values aren’t for the days when everything is going well—they are for times when, as Katrina says, “The fit has hit the shan,” and you need a path forward.
Plant Your Flag
Kirk says that “core values are the single most important thing you do;” they’re your flag in the ground, and you need to stand by them. Often, the reason a situation is challenging is because we did not make sure our core values showed up. Katrina recounted her experience of dealing with a negative comment on an Instagram post, and how even though it was tempting to resort to petty remarks, by keeping her integrity and replying in a calm, matter-of-fact manner, she made sure her core values led the way.
When you graduate dental school, you’re promising to serve the community to the best of your ability—no matter what. You’re here to make a difference in your patients’ lives, so when they assume you’re prescribing a certain treatment because you want a new car or house, it hurts. When they question your judgment, they question your core values, and that’s difficult. You need to live your core values—make them so evident that your patients never question whether what you’re doing is in the interest of their health above all. Patients know when you’re selling them something versus when you’re concerned, so always speak directly and seriously when their health is at risk. You’re not doing it because you want something, you’re doing it to serve them. Make sure your core values show up, and you’ll find your patients healthier and your work more satisfying.
It Starts at the Top
Creating and maintaining a system of core values is not an easy process, nor is it one that ever ends. If you’re a dentist or practice owner, it needs to start with you. You are the leader—this is your practice, and it needs to reflect the behaviors you’ve fully embraced. The journey of core value discovery isn’t easy, but it is worth it.
When your team takes greater responsibility for upholding core values, the chances of them falling by the wayside decreases. Just because you’ve written them on a placard on the wall doesn’t mean they’re showing up—it takes constant effort to keep them prominent. Convey your expectations, give them the tools and resources to follow through, and teach them integrity. This sense of integrity means that even when you’re not present in the office, you’ll know without a doubt that your team is living out your core values and making sure patients receive the care they need.
Kirk says that “there are people that fix teeth, and there are people that change lives,” and when you embrace your core values you become the latter. A patient may exhibit hesitance about your recommendation, but if they know you operate with integrity and their own interest at heart, they’re not going to leave a negative comment on Google with a one-star review. They will see you as a human, first and foremost, who simply wants to provide care to other humans. To help you build your own set of core values, reach out to the ACT team today. Let them work with you to discover the answers to the questions of where you are, where you’re going, and what’s important to you. The more you rely on your core values, the less chaos and confusion will surround you, leading to a Better Practice, and a Better Life!