At a foundational level, patient satisfaction and retention start with great treatment - but we all know the best treatment is made up of so much more than tools and technique. Excellent dental treatment is an amalgamation of thought, skill, expertise and relationships. So what happens when a practice is lacking in one way or another?

Some dentists are looking for stronger clinical skills to build better treatment plans; others are wondering how to build better relationships with specialists in their community.  

For Dr. Pooneh Najafi, a longtime pain point was exactly that - stagnant referral relationships and frustration at not being able to make strong connections with people who were of the same mindset when it came to patient care and case planning. She expressed feelings of intimidation when it came to approaching specialists as well as what she deemed "finger-pointing tendencies" - the feeling that referrers spent more time engaging in negative conversations about treatment rather than focusing on the most important thing of all: the patient.

Dr. Torie Cox was struggling with a similar issue for quite some time - though she had always known the value of interdisciplinary care and relationships, she didn't fully put it into practice in the beginning of her career.

Other doctors, like Dr. Natalie Popovich, were overall in need of new ways to approach the trickiest cases, a feeling no dentist is unfamiliar with.

interdisciplinary dental treatment

These doctors are just three of many who have found the solutions to such pain points by getting involved in a Spear Study Club. For these members, a study club has been the solution from the inside out, strengthening everything from their referral relationships to the tiniest nuances of treatment. What are some of the biggest impacts study clubs have had on their practices?

More case acceptance

Hearing patients to say "yes" to treatment is a win in and of itself - what's even more exciting is when more and more of those patients are the ones who have rarely (if ever) accepted treatment in the past. Popovich said her relationship with her study club leader has enabled just that.

"It surprises you the people who now accept those kinds of treatments, people you don't think would be able to do something like that," she said. "Just getting them in [my study club leader's] door has really helped."

Better case design and patient treatment

Another benefit Popovich experienced with her study club was a fresh eye through which to look at cases and how to best design them in order to maximize efficiency and offer patients better treatment.

"I look at cases totally differently now that I've joined Spear, and how I start designing a case," she said. "So now I'm able to give them more esthetic results on my anterior cases. I can see more possibilities that I didn't see before. Maybe they don't accept all those possibilities, but I'm now giving them every treatment option - nothing is limited."

Popovich said part of her ability to offer more treatment possibilities stems from the fact that her study club has helped her discover those possibilities herself. It does so not only through immersive learning modules, but in-depth meetings during which members can share current cases and help each other treatment plan.

"There are things that I gather now that I didn't gather before; things I wouldn't have seen until later, I'm seeing from the get go," she said.

Spear Resources

The Transformative Nature of Small-Group Learning in Dental Study Clubs

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Strong team of advisors and colleagues

Both Popovich and Cox wholeheartedly agree: dentistry is not meant to be practiced on an island. The strong referral relationships that Spear Study Clubs enable are powerful in their ability to create an expert network of GPs and specialists who are committed to offering well-communicated treatment at every step of the process.

"It's nice to foster that attitude with like-minded people," Cox said. "If you think you can do it all yourself, it's really a disservice to your patients."

But when she is working on her part of a case, she's thankful that she's comfortable reaching out to anyone in the study club who can offer her guidance and advice.

"I think ultimately, I'm a better clinician," she said. "Because if I do have a question, I have the resources. I have the right people to ask and, if need be, refer to."

Clear and open communication between referrers

For Cox, her willingness to ask for help from her closest referral partners is enhanced by the ease of communication. She said it makes a world of difference to be able to reach out to her referrers directly, rather than relying on communication that can sometimes be convoluted when passed through office managers or assistants.

A straight shot to patient satisfaction and practice success

With Spear Study Clubs, every step that leads to a happy patient is streamlined, strong and successful. Clinicians are better equipped with the foresight and skills necessary to offer patients exceptional treatment that complements that of their specialist partners. Referring partners are ensuring consistent communication with patients regarding their treatment plan, so patients are more trusting and likely to follow through with treatment. Members from different backgrounds agree: Study Club is a win-win for everyone involved.

"The camaraderie in being around a great group of people really gives me the confidence to pick up the phone and say, 'Hey, I'm sending over this patient - what are we gonna do here?" said Dr. David Kostohryz. "That camaraderie gives me so much confidence."