When my diary gets fully booked to everything apart from emergencies up till Christmas this for me is the trigger that I use to start reflecting upon how the year has gone. I like to write down a list of changes that I have implemented in the past 12 months and consider what I want to do over the next year. I call this my Annual Review.
I like to try to keep this process positive rather than dwelling on the things that have not gone well. It is easy for time to march on and you so easily forget how many improvements you make but can instead so easily recall the problems you encountered.
I try to separate this into a few different categories such as new materials I am using, new techniques I am employing, administration/non-clinical changes, and personal life situation. I won’t list everything but here are a few examples of things in my 2016 review:
Bioclear matrices. Still in the early learning stages but quite liking these.
Unodent heavy non-latex Rubber dam. 12 months ago rubber dam use was a very rare thing for me. Now I will not do RCT without it and I am starting to use it for other work too.
Ivoclar stump shade guide.
My demo model. I had it made as an early Christmas present to myself 12 months ago. I use it every single day.
Heated composite. An absolute revelation.
Steam cleaner. So useful for cleaning grubby dentures and ensuring indirect restorations are clean after try-in.
Heated blanket for photography mirrors so they are always ready to go. Just makes it so much quicker to take some good photos.
Administration/non clinical changes
I think the big changes for me over the past 12 months have been in this area.
I changed my diary to 20 min slots rather than 15 back in January. This has really allowed for more thorough exams and more time for higher quality treatments. Slowly getting away from the 35 pt days.
OHI postcards. These have had a huge influence on how I give my OHI and is really showing results.
Written New pt packs.
Complex treatment consultation packs.
Written consent forms.
I now much more regularly refer work out e.g. complex endo. I feel much more comfortable stating to the pt when something looks beyond my capabilities and then offering solutions and as a result it means that I am doing more of the treatment I want rather than failing at work beyond my capabilities.
I have done my first bit of paid teaching of some FDs. I really enjoyed this and have begun looking at other opportunities to do more.
I have been involved in a local dental study club and have found this has helped to create better bonds with other local dentists in similar situations.
And another big change is starting these rambles. Something that I find is a great way to focus my mind and make better use of my wasted time at work when pts DNA etc.
We moved house just over 12 months ago so a lot of work this year has gone into getting settled in our new home and kids in a new school etc.
I am taking much better care of myself now than I have in previous years. I used to be dehydrated almost every work day and not eat well while at work.
I now do basic Tai Chi exercises at least 2 times a week to help relax my body and stretch out the back and shoulders.
I now do short jogs a few times a week whereas for the past few years I have done no exercise at all.
As I said this list is not exhaustive and it isn’t meant to be bragging in any way rather just an example of how many aspects of my life have changed in the past year. I would be interested to hear how other people reflect on how this year has gone for them.
The year ahead
Now having reflected on this year it is a good opportunity to consider what you want to do next year. This can be with small changes like those mentioned previously or can be relating to hitting certainly financial targets etc.
In January 2017 my diary is being zoned so that most of my treatments will be booked in the morning and most of my exams are done in the afternoon. I will also have more time dedicated to emergencies and time specifically set aside for new patient exams. I have been meaning to try this for years and am quite looking forward to see how it works when we get there.
I am going to spend a fair bit of time researching different air-abrasion systems that I know a lot of people on these forums use as I feel they may benefit my work. And I am going to be a lot more pro-active in looking for new job opportunities. Either closer to home (getting bored of my 45 minute commute) or with different prospects such as buying in to a practice or learning a lot from a very experienced clinician as I have decided I want to be doing a restorative diploma/masters at some point soon.
Dr Chris Harper