Do you invest?
I am a big fan of investing—investing in myself is what I mean. Whether through self-development books, courses or simply buying something that makes my life easier and less stressful is an investment worthwhile. Do you agree?
Today I want to talk about dental investing. I attended countless useless lectures and seminars in my vocational training year. However, there was one young dentist whose lecture really inspired me, so I approached him and asked how he became so good so quickly. His simple three-word answer was: ‘INVEST IN YOURSELF’. That hit home and I decided that, no matter what, I was going to take his advice! Only one problem… I had no money. What was I going to do?!?!?
So, I decided that with each monthly paycheque I would save 10% of it to invest in either a dental course or a piece of dental equipment or material that would make my life easier and my work better! I called it my dental fund!
I have always had the attitude that if I am going to do something, I am going to do it properly; otherwise, what is the point? So, when I started working as a dentist, making money really was not at the forefront of my mind. However, making my dentistry functional, aesthetic and making my patient happy were! I just knew that I had to nail that part of it and, if I did, the money would come. It sure did!
I realised very early in my career that I wanted to work in the private sector. But how to get that private job? Do I just apply and pray I get lucky? I knew that was not going to work, so I strategised. Phase one was to get better at dentistry. So, how was I going to do this?
Courses!! So I invested in courses, both hard and soft skill courses. I invested in as many as I could, and as early as I could, and learnt new skills. I self-taught a lot, I read journals, books, and watched videos (I have a personal copy of every single book ever recommended at dental school and even the latest editions of the ones I really liked. Yes, I’m keen, I know).
Many people told me not to do these courses, that it was too early in my career to start attending them. Well, that was bad advice! Good job I didn’t take it!
My advice would be to invest as early as you can, do dentistry properly from the outset— and, if you do, you get experienced at doing it properly not experienced at doing it incorrectly, and also by doing it properly from the outset you make more money over the span of your career.
I sat there with all this knowledge and skill, but I wasn’t able to implement it—not because I didn’t have the patients; we all have patients who need fillings, onlays, crowns, bridges, dentures etc… There was one big limiting factor that was hindering my progression, and that was having the right equipment and materials! So Phase two of the strategy began: buy the right equipment and materials!
I made a list of everything I needed to provide the best possible dentistry for my patients, reduce my risk of litigation, reduce stress, make my working day more enjoyable, and increase my income. Being young and naive, I went to my principal with this list, and, much to my amusement, he stuck his middle finger up at me. I could not understand why he would not want to buy the equipment and the materials that I needed in order to do the best dentistry on his patient base. Naivety…
I had a decision to make: either I continued to use the poor equipment and materials that were provided and never improve on my work or just go out and buy the equipment myself. Fortunately, I chose the latter and it changed my career in ways I cannot even describe.
One winter morning, a patient required an anterior composite. I took the composite out from the drawer, and it was rock hard and brittle. The finished composite looked appalling. I wanted to cry! So, the first purchase from my ‘dental investment fund’: a composite heater.
Investment: Approx. £250.
Time taken to recoup initial investment: 4 composites
Return on investment: Beautiful composites, which meant I could charge more (much more), pain-free anaesthesia, more successful endodontic treatments and less stress in my life! Was it worth it? Hell, yeah!
As mentioned above, over the course of approximately four (improved!) composites I was able to recoup my investment. The rest was, and still is, profit! Please can someone else find me another investment like this? I will invest all my money!
Using hand files to complete root canal treatments used to take me a very long time, and all for three UDAs; but, remember, it wasn’t about the UDAs, it was about providing the best care for my patients and making life less stressful for myself. After several root canal treatments, enough was enough, and I decided to buy an endo motor.
Time taken to recoup initial investment: Approx. 5 private endos
Return on investment: Much better endodontic treatment, quicker operating time, less stress – and increased revenue!
My crown preps were rough, the models that came back looked amateur, crowns sometimes did not fit! What was causing this? The burs I was using!! So I invested in good burs, and they changed my preps forever.
Time taken to recoup investment: Half a prep
Return on investment: Much smoother and better preps leading to better impressions, and better fitting crowns, no more re-makes—and increased revenue!
There were many, many, more purchases…. I still have a dental investment fund; it is much larger now and that is only because of the equipment and materials I bought early on in my career.
I now had all the correct equipment and had developed my skills. I just needed that private job! So, how could I convince the owner of a private practice I was good enough? Take my friend, sit him in the chair and prep all his teeth? That could work!?!? Errrm, NO! The only way was to show a clinical portfolio! So,Phase three:Documentation and Clinical Portfolio started. I started taking pictures of everything. Good or bad, I photographed it and then spent hours on the weekend critiquing my own work. Trust me, you will see things in the big screen that you didn’t notice in the patient’s mouth!
Return on investment: So much that I don’t even know where to begin
Good news is, eight years on, and everything I bought still works perfectly!
You don’t need to buy everything, just the things that make your dental life easier, less stressful, more enjoyable, risk-free; that save time and allow you to provide the best for your patient. The equipment will help produce the optimal results and make you more money; but if anyone buys a Valo light cure before loupes or an SLR camera, I will personally use the Valo and hit you on the head with it!
I still meet dentists who don’t even want to invest in loupes… like WTF!?!?!?!? Are you actually serious!?!?!? Okay, anger over. Buy loupes, FFS!
Some of you cry when I tell you the Aspire bur kit is £79.99 + VAT… If you still feel this, then please re-read the above!
My final piece of advice is: Do not ever be afraid of investing! It is called an investment for a reason and you are actually in luck with this type of investment because there is no fine print, no extra commission or broker fee! In this type of investment the risk is minimal, almost risk-free, as you will not only earn your money back in no time but also, more importantly, improve your working life and the dental health of your patients!
Our Advanced Operative Aesthetic & Restorative Dentistry course is designed to improve your working life as a dentist, reduce stress, reduce risk of litigation and enhance your income. It is designed to enable you to produce beautiful aesthetic but more importantly functional predictable dentistry. Come join us and let us take you on this investment journey and watch you reap the returns.