Partnering in Health Part 1: The Missing Piece 

May 1, 2024 Mary Osborne RDH

By Mary Osborne, RDH 

There was a time when I thought “partnering in health” was just about getting people to take better care of their teeth. 

Many years ago, I had a patient who was excellent with her home care, but she showed up periodically with an acute periodontal infection. We asked about stress and her overall health, but she was not aware of any issues. We would treat the infection and she would be fine for a sometime. We knew she worked for National Public Radio, and one day we made the connection that her infections showed up concurrent with NPR’s fund-raising drives. That shared realization allowed us to help her see that her stress was affecting her dental health and her overall health. She was open to conversations about lifestyle changes that would help her be healthier. My relationship with her influenced my thinking and my ability to connect with my patients from a perspective of Whole-health Dentistry. I came to understand that I had been missing opportunities to influence the way people think and feel about health. I knew that I wanted my patients to see me as “a partner in health.” 

Unfortunately, most of our patients come to us with the perspective that we are fixers of teeth, not partners in health. 

In the culture today people are bombarded with information about what is healthy. From friends and families, social and news media, and a wide variety of health care practitioners, everybody expresses opinions on how they are supposed to take care of themselves. Why, then, are we surprised when our patients don’t know whom to trust? Why are we surprised when they shrug their shoulders or appear confused? It’s not always a case of conflicting facts but a case of various perspectives that people don’t know how to navigate. 

Think about where you place your trust. How do you decide whom to trust about decisions—whether it’s about your health, or about your finances, or about how you raise your children? When I ask myself that question, two criteria surface. They need to know their subject and to know me. I want that person to know what it is they’re talking about. I want them to be well informed. I also want someone who knows me, who understands my values. I want that person to have a sense of who I am and what is important to me. 

As we get to know our patients over the years, most of them come to see us as trusted advisors when it comes to their dental health—but fewer see us as trusted advisors when it comes to their general health. If we jump too quickly to making recommendations about their overall health, we are more likely to meet resistance. If we want to cross the bridge into influencing our patients’ overall health and wellbeing, I believe we need an invitation to cross that bridge.   

The Missing Piece in our quest to influence the overall health of our patients is the failure to invite patients to share their perspectives on health. Beginning a conversation with a new patient with the question, “What can you tell me about your health in general?” is an invitation for them to talk about their experience of their health, not just details. Instead of “reviewing” health histories, what if we “explore” health histories? As we connect and get to know each other we can learn to listen beyond information to hear attitudes, beliefs, fears, biases, concerns, barriers, etc. As you understand their perspectives on health issues that come up in conversation, it’s easy to ask if they would like your perspective on that issue. These conversations often lead to more questions and answers that invite more and more invitations from our patients to be their partner in health. 

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Mary Osborne RDH

Mary is known internationally as a writer and speaker on patient care and communication. Her writing has been acclaimed in respected print and online publications. She is widely known at dental meetings in the U.S., Canada, and Europe as a knowledgeable and dynamic speaker. Her passion for dentistry inspires individuals and groups to bring the best of themselves to their work, and to fully embrace the difference they make in the lives of those they serve.

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How Do You Like to Receive Feedback? 

April 29, 2024 Kelley Brummett DMD

Kelley Brummett, DMD 

Recently, I completed growth conferences with everyone on my team. The beauty of a growth conference is that it’s all about growth. It’s all about effort. It’s all about meeting each other and becoming more aligned with the mission of the practice. If I have something I want to share with a team member that’s a concern or something new I would like them to achieve such as mastery of a new skill, I think about how I’m going to communicate it. And as I do growth conferences with the individuals on my dental team, I am cognizant that they are likely to want to receive feedback differently as individuals.  

I’ve discovered that if I ask my employee upfront how they like to receive feedback, they pause to think before responding. I wait patiently for their response because I know the response will save both of us time and energy. For example, there are some team members who want the short and skinny of it—“Give it to me straight now.” They don’t want you to hold back. There are some team members who need to be gently warmed up before they can hear the message and require thorough explanations of why. 

I’ve discovered it helps to frequently ask the “how do you like feedback” question of my team to get their buy-in of my feedback. The beauty of “feedback” is that even criticism can be framed in a positive way as the next identified step in working towards a goal.  

Those of us in dentistry know that sometimes we move fast, but there are times that we need to sit back, think through what somebody gave us information about, and then come back and have a conversation. Mary Osborne has guided us to have conversations with patients that allow us to slow down and learn more about them so they can think, hear themselves speak, and learn about themselves. I’ve decided the feedback question is also a good question to ask patients. “How do you like to receive information? Would you like to know all the details or for me to summarize?” 

I’ve learned from Mary and experiences with patients that “staying in questions” helps them grow. Staying in questions also helps team members grow. Staying in questions helps us providers grow. So, feedback—how do you give it? How do you like to receive it? How do you handle it? I encourage you to think about this. 

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Kelley Brummett DMD

Dr. Kelley D. Brummett was born and raised in Missouri. She attended the University of Kansas on a full-ride scholarship in springboard diving and received honors for being the Big Eight Diving Champion on the 1 meter springboard in 1988 and in 1992. Dr. Kelley received her BA in communication at the University of Kansas and went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After practicing nursing, Dr Kelley Brummett went on to earn a degree in Dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia. She has continued her education at the Pankey Institute to further her love of learning and her pursuit to provide quality individual care. Dr. Brummett is a Clinical Instructor at Georgia Regents University and is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Brummett and her husband Darin have two children, Sarah and Sam. They have made Newnan their home for the past 9 years. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading and playing with her dogs. Dr. Brummett is an active member of the ADA, GDA, AGDA, and an alumni of the Pankey Institute.

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Stories About Stories 

April 22, 2024 J. Michael Rogers, DDS

By Michael (Mike) Rogers, DDS

Close to my office there is a small strip center that includes a realty group and a small church. At one end, there is no sign to show what it is, but it has a drive-through window. Every day there is a significant line of cars going up to that window. Cars line up waiting their turn, and the line is so long the cars snake through the parking lot, out into the street, with hazard lights flashing. 

I have a friend who loves to create stories about what is going on in strangers’ lives. Why is someone driving so fast? What meal are they going to create with food in a shopping cart? Why are two people arguing?  

Fantasized from some level of observation, my friend has captured what this drive-through is all about. He believes that because the drive-through is adjacent to a church, you can pull up to the window and are given a donut along with a prayer. It’s a small ministry for people to have a better day. That’s not a bad narrative but no real basis for the story. I say that as the line of cars grows longer, the prayers gain power. I get a warm feeling of their impact on others. 

I find we make up stories in my office as well. We make them up about why someone didn’t show up for an appointment, why someone didn’t move forward in care that has been advised, or why someone won’t pay a balance. Our tales are based on some level of observation, but they are tales none the less. 

I try to remember to look at these moments in three ways. 

  • What do I know? 
  • What do I think I know? 
  • What do I want to know? 

We practice this in our office. I encourage my team to not live in “what I think I know.” This state of mind too often leads to creating stories that reflect a judgement. If I hear a team member begin to create a narrative based on a circumstance with the phrase “I think…,” I try to politely make them aware of what they are doing. They most certainly recognize when I do it and politely let me know. I just grin to hide my disappointment in myself. Maybe someday, I’ll say, “thank you.” 

In relationship-based practices, we have such marvelous opportunities to help people be healthier. Asking questions about what we’d like to know and sometimes creating self-discovery for the patient as well. We often get repeated moments to connect and learn with each other. The need to make up stories is dissolved when we get to hear their story. Sometimes that story is fun, other times hard. We get to walk along that story with them. What a gift to live a life in that connection! 

Recently, a member of the realty group on one end of the strip center came in to see me. I couldn’t resist asking what the line of cars is about. It turns out it is an Ignition Interlock site for people that have had a recent DUI. You go up to the window for your installation time of the small handheld breathalyzer to prevent your car from starting after drinking alcohol. 

I haven’t shared that with my friend. I like his story better. 

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J. Michael Rogers, DDS

Dr. Mike Rogers is a graduate of Baylor College of Dentistry. He has spent the last 27 years developing his abilities to restore patients to the dental health they desire. That development includes continuing education exceeding 100+ hours a year, training through The Pankey Institute curriculum and one-on-one training with many of dentistry’s leaders. Dr. Rogers has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in Restorative Sciences at Baylor College of Dentistry, received a Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry and currently serves as Visiting Faculty at The Pankey Institute. He has been practicing for 27 years in Arlington, Texas.

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A Meditation on the Personalities of Dentists

January 2, 2023 Paul Henny DDS

Introversion and extroversion are psychological preferences first outlined by Carl Jung and then implemented in psychological models such as the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI). The terms introversion and extroversion share the Latin root vertere meaning to turn. These preferences enable individuals to relate to the external world in different ways

Extroverts gain a significant part of their sense of self via feedback from others. Consequently, they thrive on interaction, which is energizing to them. They find more isolating situations stifling.

By contrast, introverts tend to develop their sense of self individually through reflection and clarification. They thrive in quieter and less stimulating environments, such as small gatherings with others whose thinking and values are aligned with their own. (I think this is why introverts tend to thrive in small person-centered practices that are values-driven–where their values are commonly shared by team members and patients alike.)

A Pankey Institute study in the 1980s showed that most dentists lean toward introversion. This makes sense because the profession requires full attention to small details all day—both physically and psychologically. Consequently, most dentists will say something like, “I love the technical aspects of dentistry, but I’m constantly frustrated with my staff and patient management responsibilities.” And in response, they will delegate the latter to others, creating a psychological wall between doing what they enjoy and the responsibilities they find too frustrating.

On the other hand, dentists who are more gregarious and outgoing tend to build up practices more quickly but struggle to stay on task because they thrive on social interaction. Consequently, these dentists tend to benefit from consultants who help them create systems where they “stay at the chair” and produce for the team.

If you lean toward being an introvert, you will likely discover that your practice grows more slowly, but with more intention. That can be a good thing and a strength if you learn how to leverage it. Why?

  • The more conservative approach introversion brings to decision-making is more values-driven. Consequently, it’s not as heavily influenced by the environment and emotions as it is by personal insight. Thus, behaving more like an introvert helps us to identify smart risks that are worth taking because they have long-term, values-aligned potential.
  • Additionally, Introverts are very sensitive to the environment. They tend to spot “warning signals” from team members and patients.
  • Running a dental practice is a long-term investment, much like what Warren Buffet said about stock investing, “You need a stable personality. You need a temperament that neither derives great pleasure from being with the crowd nor against the crowd because this is not a business where you take polls. It’s a business where you must think.”
  • Additionally, introverts can be more creative IF they structure their work environment in such a way that it tends to support their creativity. That’s because it is the nature of extroverts to mimic the opinions and behavior of others. Having a more solitary thinking style allows a person to tap into more creative solutions.

Introverts can learn to be more extroverted and many adults become ambiverts as they experience life. Certainly, in my case, I grew in my ability to engage in both patterns of listening and talking more equally—and effectively, despite being an introvert at heart.

From my blogs, you probably have ascertained that I am drawn to human psychology. I agree; both the psychological and clinical aspects of dentistry interest me. One of the benefits of lifelong learning is that I have learned to enjoy the business and social operations of my practice more over the years, and any psychological wall I started to build (between them and the clinical side) has been intentionally torn down.

Workplace environments are more enjoyable when there are variety and balance. If you are an introverted dentist, I recommend that you have extroverts on your team to encourage conversation and draw out the group’s perspective on various challenges. If you are an extrovert, I recommend hiring introverts in key positions whose instincts and intuition you deeply trust, so you can listen to their thoughts before making final decisions.

Susan Cain is the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Cain says weighting our teams to having everyone be like us is “a colossal waste of talent.” It’s my opinion that businesses, dental practices included, are better served by taking a yin and yang approach to team hiring to create a balance of the two personality styles.

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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Here. Now.

September 23, 2019 Paul Henny DDS

While communicating, we can learn to become more mindful of the emotions which are rising up in our body and the sensations we are feeling on an intuitive level. We can begin to notice what has happened that has triggered our initial response, as well as feeling the sensations it has created in our body.

This requires us to remain in a state of curiosity and observation rather than in assessment and judgment. And when we treat these thoughts and sensations with equanimity, we are less likely to react inappropriately during stressful situations.

When I mention staying curious, I mean to approach the experience with the curiosity of a child.

When we remain curious, we are inspecting our experience like a child who has seen a flower for the very first time. This helps take the power away from the strong emotions we might be feeling in that moment. To paraphrase Mary Osborne from this past weekend at The Pankey Institute Annual Meeting, “You are standing on the balcony, and not on the floor.”

This whole mindfulness practice is extremely important as it gives us a chance to hit the pause button.

And when we pause, we’re able to respond rather than simply react. Reactions are often what our limbic brain wants us to thoughtlessly do. And if we have developed an insensitive pattern of reacting over the years, it can lead to regret and suffering. Hence, by developing an ability to pause our limbic brain’s instant impulses, we become more capable of responding in a much wiser fashion.

Mindfulness is at the epicenter of a truly relationship-driven practice.

And it’s a skill which can be developed and enhanced over our lifetime. Hence, it’s at the epicenter of “knowing ourselves” as well.

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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First and Foremost… The Inner Truth

July 3, 2019 Paul Henny DDS

One of the hardest things in dentistry is to know when to keep pressing onward or deeply reconsider a situation and move on in a new direction.

Everyone knows that perseverance and “grit” are key to success. Anyone who has worked their way to the top can tell you about their moments of doubt, horror stories and wounds acquired along the way. But never re-assessing, never changing course is problematic as well, as it is analogous to sailing with a fixed rudder. It is only a matter of time before you run your boat aground.

Do you have both a plan and a strategic planning process?

Successful management of the direction and functionality of a practice requires the use of both approaches, and that is why every practice needs to not only have a plan but also a strategic planning process. A strategic planning process is an iterative process of self-reflection. It is constant and not just an event. Because it is a “process” of constant reassessment, you can discover when to reimagine and change course. Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke to this truth when he said, “Planning is essential, but plans are useless.”

Where are things breaking down?

An objective way to arrive at an answer is to begin to analyze where things are breaking down. The work of Simon Sinek is helpful in making this analysis. He says we can have breakdowns in the areas of HOW, WHAT and WHY.

Breakdowns in specific areas of a practice are often breakdowns in HOW. This is when people are not executing well-designed and well thought through processes and procedures. This may be driven by a lack of knowledge, understanding, ability and/or desire. And these represent objectively correctable problems. For example, if the margins of our crowns are consistently substandard, we need to go back and figure out where our processes and thinking are breaking down. If a team member is failing to execute their responsibilities in an appropriate fashion, the same approach holds true.

Are you climbing fast in the wrong direction?

Failures can also occur at what I would call a “strategy level.” This is a more global level above execution, because it involves more of why we are attempting to do what we are attempting to do. Simply put, poor strategies will lead practices in the wrong direction. Steven Covey’s metaphor of having our life ladder up against the wrong wall applies here. We can be climbing fast, while simultaneously climbing in the wrong direction.

Does your work feed your soul?

Failures can and do originate on a WHY level. An example of this would be a person working hard and making bank, while hating being a dentist. This represents a failure on the visionary or philosophical level. Failures on this level represent spiritual depravation. In this case, we are going through the motions, yet very little of what we are doing feeds our soul. As a consequence, people often attempt to fill this void in a dysfunctional way, perhaps, with alcohol, drugs, sports, extreme exercise regimens—or something else that easily becomes an addiction.

If we have HOW and WHAT breakdowns in a practice and still have our WHY worked out, staying focused and working through issues and problems is appropriate. However, if the reason things are not being executed well and the reason our strategies aren’t effective is really because our heart isn’t in it, then we have a spiritual crisis on our hands.

Without first addressing our inner nature and our inner truths, we will never be successful at addressing more downstream challenges such as HOW and WHAT. L.D. Pankey was speaking to the essential nature of this truth when he said, “Know yourself.”

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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Know Yourself

April 10, 2019 Mary Osborne RDH

The Least Understood Part of Dr. Pankey’s Cross

I’ve always thought that the least understood and least appreciated aspect of Dr. Pankey’s cross of life is the directive to “Know Yourself.” It seems more interesting and exciting to get into learning about your work and your patients. And applying that knowledge makes all the sense in the world. Many high achieving people are happy to dedicate themselves to a lifetime of learning about their work.

What about learning about ourselves? My experience is that it’s easier to believe we have “done that.” We take a psychological instrument and label ourselves as “Driver” or “Amiable.” Check! We survey our values and identify the top three. Check! We write a vision or mission statement. Check! How much more is there to learn?

I have come to understand that, over time, the self-discovery process of knowing yourself can be the most challenging and most rewarding aspect of your work. Knowing yourself is what makes you not only a better dentist, but a more effective leader, a more engaged family and community member, and a more fulfilled person. So, when I was asked to speak about that at the Pankey Institute’s Annual meeting I was both delighted and a bit intimidated. It is such a big topic!

“But, What about Self-Absorption?”

The idea of knowing yourself can have a connotation of self-absorption, a self-serving focus inward. This thought has arisen in our evening discussions at the Institute. We tend to think it is more appropriate to focus outward on our patients, our team, and our work. We want to facilitate their growth and their learning about how to become healthier. It can be difficult to see the value of that inner self-discovery focus. But Parker J. Palmer, whose writing has informed my work over many years wrote:

“. . . When I do not know myself, I cannot know who my students are. I will see them through a glass darkly, in the shadows of my unexamined life, and when I cannot see them clearly, I cannot teach them well.”

That lens through which we see others is an essential part of who we are. What I have learned so far is that my lens includes filters of impatience, and judgment, and assumptions about what I think I know. I have my blind spots. But my lens also includes compassion, and love, and understanding.

After 40 Years, Even New Discoveries

After 40 years in service of others, I am still learning about myself. As I learn to know myself, I am better able to take a step back and look at my filters, not just through them. I’m learning to question and understand where they fit and where they do not. I find it very interesting how on my best days I can see both the filter and the lens. With intention, I practice questioning my assumptions and suspending my judgment. Sometimes I can even laugh at the stories I make up about people and situations! And often I can also see the gifts I bring; the perspective, the compassion. Those are the times when I can bring all of myself to my work.

I serve better and I am better for knowing myself.

 

Mary will be presenting on Know Yourself at the Pankey 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting this year on Key Biscayne, Fl September 13,14.

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DATE: April 6 2025 @ 8:00 am - April 10 2025 @ 2:30 pm

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Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (per night): $ 345

What if you had one tool that increased comprehensive case acceptance, managed patients with moderate to high functional risk, verified centric relation and treated signs and symptoms of TMD? Appliance…

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About Author

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Mary Osborne RDH

Mary is known internationally as a writer and speaker on patient care and communication. Her writing has been acclaimed in respected print and online publications. She is widely known at dental meetings in the U.S., Canada, and Europe as a knowledgeable and dynamic speaker. Her passion for dentistry inspires individuals and groups to bring the best of themselves to their work, and to fully embrace the difference they make in the lives of those they serve.

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On Leading Others Effectively

January 17, 2019 Allison Watts DDS

Once you want to be a leader and you know yourself well enough, you’re ready to move on to helping others effectively. We have already taken a look at the first two parts of Dr. Rich Green’s leadership definition:

“A leader is a person…

Willing and Able

To influence behavior;

Their OWN FIRST

Then others

To a preferred future.”

-Rich Green, DDS

Leading Others

Building on our willingness and ability to influence behavior (our own first), now we will talk about leading others. It is by leading ourselves well that we “earn the right” and have the highest capacity to lead others.

I’m going to use the four essential areas I discussed in the previous blog as a framework for discussing our leadership of others.

Let me start by saying that we can train someone to assist us or do a great job greeting our patients, or to do stellar financial arrangements, etc. But when we hire, what we really want to look for is someone who has similar values and is inspired by our vision and purpose.

If we are clear about our own values, vision, and purpose/mission, which means we have done our own work to get clear, we will know if our prospective employees are a good fit by asking questions.

If we already have employees and are in transition, meaning we are changing our practice and/or doing work to get more clear on our values (what the practice is about and where we’re headed), we have an opportunity to be in constant conversation with those around us.

The people around us – in this case our team, specialists, lab technicians, and patients – want to know what we believe in and what we stand for. People are hungry for connection on that level.  

Influencing Others

Now let’s look at the four areas I discussed previously and how they help us in our ability to influence others:

1. Our competency and skills.

What we are doing and how we are doing it models for our team what we expect and what we are about. When our team feels competent and skilled, they feel confident and pleased about the quality of their work.

Especially in a high level practice, taking our team to CE and taking the time to work with them on their technical skills as well as communication skills is vital to their success. Most of us know this and probably do this pretty well already.

2. Knowing how we are wired helps us understand how others are wired.

The patterns, beliefs, and behaviors are not the same, but knowing that we have all been programmed and that this is part of the human condition helps us have compassion and a deeper understanding of how people tick.

Remember, most of this programming we were either born with or was “installed” from 0-7. In some way, even if it doesn’t make sense, we all do what we do in order to feel safe, loved, competent, and a sense of belonging. Knowing this gives us compassion for why people do what they do. 

3. Emotions

Being able to be with our own emotions allows others to be with theirs. As we model this and help our team learn it, they will increase their capacity to be with their own emotions and those of others.

Empathy is one of the most important skills to have as a healthcare provider. We have the opportunity to be the leader of this in our practice and in our life. When we work with humans, we work with their emotions and experiences (whether we like it or not).

4. Knowing and owning our truth.

This is an empowered and empowering place to stand. When we own and are clear about our truth, our desires, what we stand for, and what we are about, we can lovingly set boundaries and make clear decisions.

This also helps us honor others as they stand for what they believe. Once we are clear about these things for ourselves, we have an opportunity to share them with our team so that we are all moving toward the same preferred future, which we’ll talk about in the next blog.

Stay tuned …  

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Dentist Tuition: $ 6800

Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (Per Night): $ 345

Transform your experience of practicing dentistry, increase predictability, profitability and fulfillment. The Essentials Series is the Key, and Aesthetic and Functional Treatment Planning is where your journey begins.  Following a system of…

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About Author

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Allison Watts DDS

Allison graduated from Baylor College of Dentistry in 1995 and practices dentistry part time in Midland, Texas at the practice she started from scratch after she graduated from dental school. Allison is committed to high quality, relationship-based comprehensive care and her favorite subject is leadership, especially self-leadership. She is the president and founder of Transformational Practices, where she works with dentists to become their personal and professional best. As a lifelong learner and as part of the visiting faculty here at Pankey, she loves learning as well as teaching. Her favorite thing is witnessing and creating a-ha moments for people and feels the best rewards are the positive impact and ripple effects that come from improving one’s leadership skills and confidence level. She is a certified coach and a leader in the work of the Ford Institute of Integrative Coaching, as well as a certified John Maxwell Coach.

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Be the Kind of Leader You Want to Be

December 21, 2018 Allison Watts DDS

This is a continuation of a series of blogs exploring what it takes to become the leader you want to be. It’s all about breaking down Dr. Rich Green’s brilliant definition of a leader:

“A leader is a person…

Willing and Able

To influence behavior;

Their OWN FIRST

Then others

To a preferred future.”

-Rich Green, DDS

Know Thyself

In the previous blog, we looked at willingness and ability to influence behavior. The next piece of Dr. Green’s definition is “Their Own First.” Our ability to influence others starts with our ability to influence ourselves.

Just like our patients, we often “know” what we should do and even how to do it, but then we don’t do what we know we should. So, how do we influence our own behavior intentionally?

This is sometimes the hardest part. I believe it starts with “know thyself.” Dr. Pankey placed “know thyself” at the top of his Cross of Dentistry for a reason. I have observed (and experienced) that in general, dentists focus most of our attention and efforts on knowing our work and applying our knowledge.

Here at Pankey, we also focus on knowing our patients. But very few dentists, or humans for that matter, focus on really knowing ourselves—what matters to us, why it matters to us, why we do what we do, and what’s truly creating our results.

If we put attention and effort into knowing and growing ourselves first, our ability to lead others is exponentially improved. Here are the areas I believe are imperative to this:

Essential Concepts

1. Our competency and skill level is of course important. We do need to know what we’re doing.

Depending on our business model, it’s important that we are competent in these areas: clinical skills, how to run a successful business, and communication and relationship-building. We should continue to grow in each of these areas.

2. A basic understanding of how we are wired is crucial because this is where much of our behavior comes from. Each of us is a blank canvas from age 0-7. We are programmed during those years. We learn survival skills and form beliefs that shape our model of the world.

It is very helpful to understand how this shapes our world and how it drives our behavior. We can become aware of and change our programming with work and practice.

3. The ability to be with our emotions (and those of others) is also of utmost importance. As humans we have the ability to let emotions move through us. Not only that, it is vital and healthy to do so. Emotions have useful information in them as well.

4. The fourth area I’ll call ‘knowing your truth.’ This is the connection to your heart and soul. If we grow our clarity and trust in this and our worthiness of having what we desire, this will take us further than anything else.

What do you believe in your core? What matters most to you? What’s your purpose? What do you desire?

I hope this blog has convinced you that it is a worthy, worthwhile, and noble cause to spend time getting to know yourself better. Only by knowing ourselves can we really know others at the highest level. Then it is our honor and privilege to be able to influence them, which is what we will talk about in my next post …

Related Course

E2: Occlusal Appliances & Equilibration

DATE: June 22 2025 @ 8:00 am - June 26 2025 @ 2:30 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 44

Dentist Tuition: $ 7400

Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (per night): $ 345

What if you had one tool that increased comprehensive case acceptance, managed patients with moderate to high functional risk, verified centric relation and treated signs and symptoms of TMD? Appliance…

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About Author

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Allison Watts DDS

Allison graduated from Baylor College of Dentistry in 1995 and practices dentistry part time in Midland, Texas at the practice she started from scratch after she graduated from dental school. Allison is committed to high quality, relationship-based comprehensive care and her favorite subject is leadership, especially self-leadership. She is the president and founder of Transformational Practices, where she works with dentists to become their personal and professional best. As a lifelong learner and as part of the visiting faculty here at Pankey, she loves learning as well as teaching. Her favorite thing is witnessing and creating a-ha moments for people and feels the best rewards are the positive impact and ripple effects that come from improving one’s leadership skills and confidence level. She is a certified coach and a leader in the work of the Ford Institute of Integrative Coaching, as well as a certified John Maxwell Coach.

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Conscious Change Drives Results

July 20, 2018 Mark Murphy DDS

Our behavior directly influences the results we see in our life and career. In the dental practice, recognizing the need for conscious change and following through requires true self-discipline.

We all know what we need to do to improve our situation, whether that be in working on patient care or engaging in more education. The hard part is that even once we’ve gotten the information we need, we still have to implement change consistently.

Conscious Change & Practice Success

Discipline goes counter to human nature. In the practice, we know we should always be on top of things like scheduling a patient’s next hygiene appointment or asking the patients we trust most for referrals. These are the behaviors that require diligence and more attention than we may have on any given day.

It’s not easy to change. It’s not easy to commit to using intraoral cameras more often or anything else you have as a goal. The difficulty lies not in an individual failing, but in the structure of our brain.

Conscious change is a fight against our natural inclinations. It requires holding ourselves accountable to the behavior changes we want to implement.

Self-Doubt and Commitment

We also have to face the self-doubt that comes with change and handling any hiccups that occur. It’s painful to make mistakes, but even more painful to stay mired in old, stale behaviors.

One thing that helps is transparency and being held accountable by an external source. Project management software already does this well. It keeps track of our successes and failings for us.

We should be using this tool to identify our weaknesses and thereby improve our results. Once we notice what behaviors aren’t driving success, we can replace them or find avenues toward heightened performance.

How do you support behavior change in yourself? Let us know your thoughts!

Related Course

Functional Esthetic Excellence – Utilizing 100% Digital Workflow

DATE: May 8 2025 @ 8:00 am - May 10 2025 @ 2:00 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 25

Dentist Tuition: $ 3195

Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (per night): $ 345

Embracing Digital Dentistry This course will introduce each participant to the possibilities of complex case planning utilizing 100% digital workflows. Special emphasis will be placed on understanding how software can…

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About Author

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Mark Murphy DDS

Mark is the Lead Faculty for Clinical Education at ProSomnus Sleep Technologies, Principal of Funktional Consulting, serves on the Guest Faculty at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry and is a Regular Presenter on Business Development, Practice Management and Leadership at The Pankey Institute. He has served on the Boards of Directors of The Pankey Institute, National Association of Dental Laboratories, the Identalloy Council, the Foundation for Dental Laboratory Technology, St. Vincent DePaul's Dental Center and the Dental Advisor. He lectures internationally on Leadership, Practice Management, Communication, Case Acceptance, Planning, Occlusion, Sleep and TMD. He has a knack for presenting pertinent information in an entertaining manner. mtmurphydds@gmail.com

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