Picture this: You spend hours on end with a patient that needs significant restorative dentistry. You’ve done a detailed exam and have had numerous consults to thoroughly explain the problems, consequences of inaction and potential solutions. The patient seems very motivated and is strongly considering moving forward.

dental student continuing education

Then, the patient goes home and calls back a couple of days later and says they only want to do one filling.

How do you feel? Do you feel a little defeated based on the time you spent? I know I do. 

In reality, it was probably a good learning experience; however, the patient's lack of action may have you feeling a little frustrated. 

Now, look in the mirror and imagine that patient is actually you. And the lack of action wasn’t about moving forward with treatment, but rather moving forward with the things you’ve learned at Spear (or any other higher education for that matter).

Continuing education and committing to change

Let me tell you a little about myself:

I live in southern New Jersey, only about an hour away from Atlantic City. Early in my dental career I went to a seminar at a casino. When the lecturer came to the front of the room, he started his presentation by saying, “there are two types of dentists in the audience today: ones that are CE junkies and ones that are going to go back to their practice on Monday morning and change something.”  

Fast-forward a few years. My brother Dave and I were out at a Spear lecture and I remember sitting outside after one of the courses and having a very deep and important conversation. We decided on that day that we were not going to become CE junkies. We were going to change the way we practice and we were going to get our team on board to help us.

We set a goal: implement our learnings, one system at a time. We decided that we would rather learn one thing and implement one thing rather than learn a thousand things and implement none. 

You see, we’re stubborn; when someone says that we can’t do something, we try to prove them wrong. When someone says that Frank or Gregg can only do this type of dentistry because they’re Frank or Gregg, we don’t buy it. We don’t think comprehensive dentistry is exclusive to a certain number of zip codes.

Very simply: Continuing education takes credit cards, Implementation takes effort.

The true value of implementation

To be totally honest, my brother and I are lucky. We went into practice with our father right out of dental school. We didn’t have to start from scratch or revitalize a struggling practice. Our father developed a practice that has a strong reputation for doing high quality dentistry and delivering a consistent and sought-after brand. 

The easy thing would have been to continue down the already established path. We didn’t choose the easy way. 

Yes, we carry along many of the systems and philosophies that helped make his practice great; however, we wanted to stay ahead of the curve. And you can’t stay ahead of the curve if you don’t adapt and continue moving forward.

We have had growing pains along the way, too many to count. However, we’ve now brought our practice to a place where we feel like we are consistently delivering a level of care that is in line with the Spear philosophy. We want to help you get there too. 

Over the next few months, we will dissect the different systems that we’ve implemented to help bring our practice to a different level. We will discuss the roadblocks we faced and how we overcame them. 

Obstacles are a part of the process; limiting them will be our goal. 

In reality, change is hard at the beginning, messy in the middle, and extremely rewarding at the end. 

This series will be based on implementation. It will be broken down into 7 sections:

  1. Your pyramid
  2. Think different, be different
  3. Be the change for your team
  4. The Ex Factor (expectations vs experiences)
  5. Not the profit center, but the center for all future profits

(a realistic comprehensive exam for the general practitioner)

  1. The Consult - PCS
  2. Simple Systems to drive down costs and increase profitability

Now ask yourself, are you a CE junky or are you ready to change?

Mike Monokian, D.M.D.


Commenter's Profile Image Carl S.
May 24th, 2017
Great article Michael. Nice to see you are committed to implementation. Kudos to you Carl
Commenter's Profile Image Iseoluwa A.
May 26th, 2017
This hits very close to home. Looking forward to the articles to come. Thanks.
Commenter's Profile Image Kendall L.
June 6th, 2017
Looking forward to your next articles!