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The Purpose Driven Practice


         Allow me to distill the benefits of a Purpose Driven Practice into four short thoughts.  When I was young, I loved to play with a magnifying glass.  On a sunny day you could focus the lens on a piece of tissue paper and it would magically erupt in flames.  However, it would only work if you would move the magnifying glass the proper distance from the target to produce a pin point of light so focused it produced intense heat.  Be off just a little, and it would not work.  The Purpose in your practice will give all your efforts the proper focal length.  It magnifies and intensifies all of your systems to work better.  The Purpose is the WHY we do what we do, or should I say the “right” reason for doing what we do.  Doing what you do for the right reason guarantees an unlimited career and limitless future.

         Summit Practice Solutions has built its entire practice management outreach on a “Purpose Driven, Doctor Led, and Staff Owned” model.  Fundamentally the Purpose or “why” is always first.  While purpose, doctor leadership and staff ownership all have equal value, the Purpose certainly would be first in setting up your practice management foundation.  Without a “why” or Purpose we default back to “money”.  Money, while important, should only be the measure of the amount of service we deliver to our patients.  Our “why” should be serving each patient.

So how can we serve our patients?  In just a few words, we need to inspire them to show up, gladly pay for their treatment, and refer everyone they know.  This inspiration comes from embracing consumerism and capacity:  Giving patients what they want, when they want it, and at a price they can afford.  If you could do this, you would never want for patients, stress would disappear, and your staff would love you.  When everything revolves around an inspired patient, success comes quickly.

Each of the following four bullet points gives more clarity to what Purpose really embodies.

  1. Your “Purpose” builds morale.  It gives your staff a united cause and creates harmony.  It creates an esprit de corps.  Far too many dental practices have “groups” of people working in the same office, rather than a “team”.  Teams pull together for a common goal.  They see the collective good as more important than the individual.  In this way they put the group and the office above their individual needs during work hours.  It’s not about any individual, it’s about the vision and goals of the office.  People gather around shared commitments.  No one wants to just work for money.  They need something greater than themselves to believe in.  Purpose gives them that “true North” kind of mentality.  Purpose is always there to help them through the stress of a day.  They know the team has their backs.  Believe it or not, your office should be the one safe, consistent, predictable thing in most staff’s lives.  It gives them security to know that they have something and are part of a team that sets them apart from other people in other jobs.  When you think of your team, think how you could instill the belief system that a Super Bowl winner, or an elite military team would have.  You and your team are the best of the best.
  2. Your “Purpose” reduces frustrations.  Purpose defines what we do or don’t do.  It eliminates ambiguity, and creates clarity.  As I said before, in a practice without a purpose there is a default setting.  It becomes money.  This creates doubt in the patients mind when it comes to following thru with treatment recommendations.  No one wants to work for someone whose greatest goal in life is to just make money.  Patients can tell when they are being sold.  When you want the treatment more than the patient does, you have crossed the line.  You can tell if you are in the wrong place if the patient always wants to get a second opinion or seems confused as to your recommendations.  You and your staff have become a dental practice turned time-share salesman.  In this arena patients vote with their feet.  If, for whatever reason, you are seeing the back of your patient’s heads when they walk out, you are doing something wrong.   Always let your purpose revolve around serving your clients.  Imagine how good you would feel if you were a staff member in your office with a well defined Purpose as guide.  Don’t discount the power of “clarity of purpose”.  In a sense, it clears up where you stand with the patients and the rest of the team or owner.  You have confidence that as long as you follow the purpose, you will make the right decisions.  Gone is the uncertainty of where you stand or what you should do.  Purpose builds a policy manual in your heart.  You become so excited about defining you position in the team that you love to come to work and patients can see the difference.
  3. Your “Purpose” allows concentration.  It helps keep the main thing, the main thing.  It concentrates your effort, and helps you become efficient and effective.  It eliminates most of the distractions that prevent good staffs from becoming great staffs.  It so simplifies who you are and what you should do that all the distractions of posturing disappear.  You are so confident in how you should carry out your duties that each day is a growing experience unencumbered by the distractions of uncertainty and lack of trust.  Patients pick up on the focus that purpose creates as it permeates the very fabric of all you and your team members do.  Imagine how chaotic a football team would be without concentration and dedicated assignments.  Think of all the times that you have seen staff members drop the ball with a system or patient.  How frustrating was this to the doctor and patient?  We have to concentrate all day, every day, to grow our integrity, our reputation, and our practice.  Purpose does this.
  4. Your “Purpose” assists in evaluation.  It literally helps you keep score.  When the staff knows and lives your vision and purpose, they know where they stand.  It is the guiding principle upon which all of your decisions and systems are based.  I truly believe that no staff member ever took a job to do it poorly.  While job descriptions help define and micro manage a task, purpose adds “feet” to its completion.  When your purpose is so clear that it is embraced by every member of your team, you will see a dramatic decrease in the stress of staff management.  Purpose is the strongest accountability factor that you can create.  It is what you always wanted.  The ability to spend more time practicing clinical dentistry and less time dealing with staff problems.  Purpose makes each staff member accountable to every other staff member and the doctor.  It’s kind of an invisible office manager that never sleeps. Another benefit is that it allows your staff to innovate.  Once you have boosted the morale, eliminated the frustrations, increased everyone’s concentration, and created a way to evaluate their progress, you have the perfect lab to innovate new ways of getting better results.  Staffs that are Purpose Driven evolve, and they drag the practice with them.  Our practices look and feel different after they embrace a Purpose Drive mindset.  Good things keep getting better.  Purpose is like a throttle with no governor to limit our growth.  Each day, each year continues to reinvent the business of dentistry without as much stress or intention.  For the first time, everyone is pulls in the same direction for the same vision and purpose.  Let me tell you that having done this for over three decades, you will be surprised as to how great things can be when you and your staffs partner sharing a common purpose.



I was visiting the office of one of my mentor’s last week and I read again their mission statement or purpose.  I really like it and have reprinted it here as food for thought.



To mature in a continual process of creating a story for our practice that is both fun and exciting and that brings each of us personal fulfillment, joy, peace and freedom.  Through dedicated people, ideas and the use of systems, we will develop a positive, nurturing and safe environment to grow and fulfill our needs both personally and professionally.  It will be a place of mutual respect, laughter, clear communication, and teamwork in an atmosphere that is fun, energized, and joyous.  We will connect with our patients on a personal level and provide a patient experience that is so incredible that they will hesitate to leave our office for fear of entering into a harsher world.  Our office will have a reputation of high quality treatment, being so gentle, safe and caring that we will draw patients from all of the best doctors in the area.  We will enjoy every day to the fullest and live in each moment.  Our office will be filled with laughter, pride, a sense of ease, and a calmness that allows us to provide a patient experience that is unsurpassed.


That kind of says it all.  I would add that Dr. Ace Goerig actually lives by his vision and purpose.  Every member of his team has embraced this short message and his practice is one of the largest and finest endodontic practices in the world.


Michael Abernathy, DDS

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