3 Hats Of A Private Practice Dentist

Episode 001

Have you ever dreaded going into your own office or felt burnt out by your practice? A few years ago that is exactly how I was feeling.

On today’s episode I’ll be sharing how I overcame burn out by understanding the three hats concept, and the specific actions I took as a result. I’ll also share with you this week’s for-action item, a concept I’ll be using in every episode of this show. Listen in for all of that and more on this inaugural episode of the Business Dentistry podcast.

More About This Show

It wasn’t that long ago I used to dread coming into the office. It didn’t matter what was on my schedule for the day because I simply wasn’t excited about my practice anymore. I was frustrated and nearly burnt out.

But then I started talking to my colleagues about what I was going through and one of them explained a concept to me he called “The 3 Hats”. He told me as dentists in private practice for ourselves we wear any one of these three different hats throughout our day. And when we are in one hat and have to make a decision using tools from another hat we become frustrated, even anxious and it often leads to burn out.

To understand how to avoid burn out it’s important to know what these three different hats are and why we wear each of them at different times.

1. The Technician.
The first hat is the hat of the technician. When you’re wearing the hat of the technician you are a dentist and are doing the actual work of dentistry. This hat is where most of us are comfortable because we invested so much time and energy into learning the practice of dentistry.

2. The Manager.
The manager hat runs the operational side of the practice. You’re wearing this hat when you are asking and answering questions like: What is our budget? How do we contain costs? What is our schedule this week?

This hat also maintains supplies and customer relationship/customer service. Even if you have an office manager you can slip into this hat when you’re asked about or thinking about anything related to any of the day to day aspects of your practice.

3. The Practice Owner/CEO.
The CEO hat is what you wear when you’re thinking of the big picture of your practice. Do you want multiple locations? Do you want associates or do you want a solo practice? Any time you are taking a 50,000 foot view and planning for the future you are wearing your CEO hat.

As you can judge for yourself all of these hats are necessary. Conflicts and frustrations arise when we are in one hat, say for example the hat of the technician, and someone asks you a question related to the hat of the manager.

This happened to me often: I would be going into see a patient and one of my staff members would ask me if we should reorder some supplies. I would give them an answer but it would take me out of the role of the technician and into manager mode for a few minutes.

I noticed that even after I answered the question and was seeing the patient my mind would still wander back to the answer I gave; I’d be distracted and not fully present with my patient. If I wasn’t asked a question on my way in to see a patient I would be fully present with them. Since I wanted to be fully there for my patients I found this frustrating.

After learning about these different hats I talked to my staff about when to ask manager-type questions. Now they only approach me when they know I’m working on administrative tasks, or am not on my way into seeing a client! It works better for everyone on staff and for our patients.

I give a few more real-life examples like that one on today’s episode as well as your for-action item! I’d love your input after you listen, this show is here for you so I’d love to hear from you. Let me know what you think after you listen in on this edition of Business Dentistry!

Tweetable: “Switching hats can cause friction and other issues.”

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