This is a letter from a wife of a dentist in response to an editorial that appeared in a dental magazine . . . in 1986.
. . . As a whole, APATHY is what has happened to us! It is a well known fact that a group of any number of dentists rarely ever agree on anything. The cohesiveness of neighborhood dentistry has, sadly, become a relic of our past.
Many years ago, we tried to organize a group of dentists in our area to help one another any time one was ill or injured and needed to be out of their office more than two weeks. As usual, no one could agree on by-laws and the task of “administrator” was impossible to assign. No one had the time to accept the responsibility of calling all the others and organizing the appointment book in an orderly fashion. For beginners, even in those “ancient” days, the turnover in help was high enough that you could be sure that if you experienced an illness, you would likely have an unfamiliar face at the front desk.
Finally, my husband had to be out of office for six months due to a very delicate surgery. We paid several dentists by the day to keep his practice open. We worked six days a week to pay our bills and stay afloat, where we had been working only four days, previously.
What a dentist needs when he is ill is a lot of PROFESSIONAL HELP! It is a solid truth that dentists in general are poor businessmen. When they are ill, is not the time to depend on their associates to act in a more business-like manner than usual, as this is what it takes to overcome the enormous odds of getting the patient in.
Last February, my husband’s physician told him he must have immediate surgery and could expect to be out of his office six to eight weeks. By 4:00 P.M. the following day, the Dental Trust had arranged office coverage for the next two weeks. By the end of the week, our entire off time was covered. I MADE ONE TELEPHONE CALL TO THE DENTAL TRUST!
A doctor arrived the first day at 8:00 a.m. By noon, he produced $942.00 in dentistry. The first four hours made our investment back, kept our doors open, and showed a profit! Had we tried to set this up ourselves, I question the results.
Should my husband die, I am grateful that the Dental Trust is available to me. I can’t imagine any dentist or dental wife who would not consider the merit of an experienced business person disposing of their property for the highest possible price. No one in a “Dental Aid Group” is going to devote full time to running a practice, marketing a practice and caring for a grieving widow, until a practice is sold. Those of you who believe they will, think again. You are living in a fantasy world.
For a prolonged illness or death; operative, emergency or elective treatment is not effective for long enough to keep the practice solvent, and hygiene patients want to see the doctor at every visit, if possible, and now it is a requirement that the hygienist work under “Direct Supervision”. Profits disappear before they appear. The current membership in the DDR Trust could be the cheapest investment a young dentist will ever make. All it takes is an accident serious enough to keep him/her out of the office for more than two weeks. Consider the amount of rent, salaries, equipment notes, etc. It doesn’t take long for a thinking person to know the answer.
Those of us who have the Dental Trust know that we are better informed than you are and much better protected in an emergency situation.
(Name Removed for Privacy)