I hear orthodontists say all the time that they “only work 3 days a week because it’s a lifestyle choice” and I struggle to suppress my laughter. I laugh because the implication, no, the belief, is that these doctors truly choose to see patients 3 days a week and could go to 4 or 5 days a week at any time AND they would increase their practice and income proportionally at that time. It’s laughable because 1) there is not a line of new patients banging on the office door on the off days 2) most doctors could probably see their “three days of patients” in less than three days but they don’t want to be more efficient because they a) don’t know how they would staff fewer days and b) wrongly believe they would have to work harder if they became more efficient, 3) modern orthodontic financing is not front loaded and it takes time to spool up collections (assuming you could get more patients in simply by opening more days), 4) most orthodontists are not adept in the marketing techniques it takes to get patients in the door and finally 5) most orthodontists are reliant on PCDs for their patients and this is a limited and fading resource.

Doctors it is DANGEROUS to fool yourselves into thinking that you could do more and earn more any time you choose. It is also dangerous to do things in half measures when it comes to marketing, modern financing and practice growth if you want your practice to thrive for decades to come. Every day you don’t change and improve gives others in your marketplace time to catch and surpass your market position. Resting on one’s laurels is comfortable right up until the point that you find yourself irrelevant.



4 thoughts on “Lifestyle Choice?

  1. Ben,

    I believe Char White was first consultant to suggest a rotating 3 day sched. She proposed a m-tu-wed week followed by a tues-wed-thurs week. At the time we were working 4 days a week using outdated NP exam-records return for consult model. We went to a one-step NP exam process and never looked back. We were forced to improve every aspect of clinical procedures. It has worked well for me for a long time.

  2. John, there is nothing wrong with working 3 days a week if you have all you want and understand that you are leaving open capacity unused and open marketshare for others. Do what you want, how you want, when you want… The point of the article is to be sure you know what you are doing instead of believing it is one thing when it is actually another.

  3. I have to agree and disagree on this topic. When the recession hit us hard in 2008 we were forced to cut back to 3 days a week because of less demand. Now that we are back to 5 days a week I would say my stress level are higher. There is just no getting around the fact that dealing with mom’s and staff members is stressful. I believe it is a balance of how much income you want vs how much stress you can tolerate.

  4. Of course doing more can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be, Brian. I used to feel the same way when I tried to do it all myself. Now I have an awesome office manager who handles staff issue, appointment issues, billing issues, upset issues and everything else that doesn’t have to do with teeth. As I’m sure you are, I’m very god at what I’m trained to do and have experience doing – creating great smiles – and I’m terrible at most other things that it takes to run an office. It took me a long time to learn that I’m not the best person for every job; just the one I’m good at! For a while I even thought I didn’t like orthodontics but it turned out that I didn’t like all the things it takes to support an orthodontist doing his or her job. Come visit us in Arkansas sometime if you’re not sure it can be done and see it in action!

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