Dr. Richard Risinger, D.D.S, M.S., is an orthodontist based out of Glastonbury, Connecticut who has been leading a Study Club since 2013. We talked with him to learn more about the impact Study Club has had on his referrals, treatment skills and overall career and ask him what new leaders can do to make their club thrive.
I started three years ago as a Study Club leader, and it's really been a great experience both for me and all the folks in our group. I started leading after I was approached by a local laboratory technician who was holding an organizational meeting, and he was looking for me to help build the group. Once we started out, it really snowballed from there. We got a lot of interest, especially as folks started to hear about what Spear had to offer (both from what we shared as well as talking with other colleagues in other areas).
Something for everyone in a Spear Study Club
We have a whole bunch of general dentists and a great mix of seasoned doctors who are really excited about sharing their wisdom with some of the younger folks. We even have three members who are just out of school.
Our group really likes the case studies and skill-building activities we work with in the Study Club modules. It's been fun for me to talk with them about which different tracks we want to take and which modules we want to select.
"The team is happier, the patients are happier, your referring doctors are happier - it all ties together."
Everybody, from our most seasoned doctors to some of the younger members of the group, really finds that they learn something, even if it's in an area in which felt they already had a lot of knowledge. They always take away one or two pearls, and it sparks discussion about cases that they have in their own practice. I know Study Club has been helpful for a lot of them in terms of how they treat their patients and their ability to take on cases they couldn’t before.
Improved referral communication and relationships
The communication among myself and my referrals and referrers has improved through Study Club. When we're treating a patient together, we all feel a lot more comfortable picking up the phone and calling each other. When we do this, the patients benefit and the treatment goes much more smoothly.
I definitely get more referrals now, and that's great - but an orthodontist, I want to make sure I’m moving teeth in the right direction of what my restorative dentist wants. That helps me know things ahead of time and make any changes that need to be made in the middle of treatment, so we get there in a more efficient manner and the doctors are happier with the results of the orthodontic treatment. Patient care has definitely gone up, as has the quality of what we diagnose and what everyone in the group sees ahead of time and the quality of our treatment planning.
As specialists, it’s important to understand the challenges that the restorative dentist faces. When you understand their challenges and the things they need to work on in order to deliver excellence and care, you start to ask yourself, "how can I help them?" That's one of the things Study Club has really helped me with: seeing dentistry and excellent dentistry from the eyes of the restorative dentist.
Study Club as a means of personal and practice growth
The first time our club came out to Spear's campus, it was really very impressive. I was impressed with the whole facility, the technology that they offer and the friendliness of the team. Everybody seemed to really be trying to give us the best experience as we're trying to learn and get better at what we do.
I think any dentist who pursues continuing education finds that both their in-practice and out-of-practice lives improve because they can deliver excellent care and do it in a timely manner. And that allows time for other things in their life, so they're not bogged down dealing with problems that could have been headed off had they thought through their planning better.
I think what motivates you to want to be a part of a Study Club to begin with is just the desire to get better at what you do. After you've done this for a while, you realize that when you get better at what you do, it makes you and everybody around you better. You feel more fulfilled and the quality of care for your patients increases. The team is happier, the patients are happier, your referring doctors are happier - it all ties together.