Here’s Why Fast Growth Practice’s Nathan Jeal and Bao-Tran Nguyen Believe Communication Is Key

Written in partnership with DN News Desk

Nathan Jeal and Bao-Tran NguyenPhoto Credit: Nathan Jeal and Bao-Tran Nguyen

Dental professionals always have to stay on top of the newest developments including techniques, technology, and best practices. However, one of the most fundamental skills for dentists is often overlooked in favor of the technical skills needed to diagnose and fix problems with their patients’ teeth.

Communication too often falls through the cracks and doesn’t get addressed, or sometimes even mentioned, until the lack of a coherent strategy becomes obvious and starts hurting a practice.

Yet communication is an essential skill for anyone working in dentistry and in the broader field of health care more generally. Bao-Tran Nguyen and Nathan Jeal, the two dentists-turned-entrepreneurs who have the benefit of the experience after buying, building, and selling multiple practices, will often point out how important communication is. Their advice for someone who’s just entering the field is, “Focus on developing strong skills in communication first. When you can communicate clearly and identify what people want, your ability to successfully provide solutions is never far away.”

That kind of advice carries a lot of weight because it comes from people who have seen it all when it comes to dentistry. Bao-Tran and Nathan are dentists first, but they’re also entrepreneurs having bought, built, and sold multiple practices. They also developed and launched Fast Growth Practice, a private advising program that helps dental-entrepreneurs increase the value of their time by focusing on improved conversion and authority marketing, both of which ultimately require clear objectives for communication.

Still, the message might be lost on some. So let’s highlight some of the situations that prove just how useful having strong communication skills can be.

Dealing with Anxious Patients

There are many things that can be said about dentists, but that they are everyone’s favorite kind of doctor is probably not one of them. That’s not something that should bruise anyone’s ego; it’s just a well-established fact, and dentists should start getting used to it early on in their careers. If they don’t, they’ll be in for a surprise because every third patient they see, on average, will have some degree of dental anxiety. One in nine will suffer from extreme anxiety.

Some people are just afraid of the dentist, period. The fear and anxiety can lead them to postpone important dental procedures, often to the detriment of their own health. Sadly, postponing dental procedures can have dire outcomes.

There’s no need to remind dentists of how people sometimes perceive them and how bad things can get when people choose to avoid dentists. Everyone’s aware of it. However, it’s important to understand that communication plays an important role in dealing with anxious patients and that a growing body of studies is showing that communication training leads to better management of anxious patients.

An All-Around Boost in the Areas That Count the Most

Even when the patients are not of the anxious type—not everyone is afraid of the dentist—they still look to their dentists for good advice, clear instructions, and explanations they can understand. People need reassurance as much as they need clear and concise information.

Good communication skills will help dentists deliver those things to their patients and avoid the confusion that frequently results when dentists and doctors of all stripes attempt to provide “education” that is in excess of what their patients can reasonably grasp.

Clear explanations are of course important, however, as Nathan says, “wearing your educator cap into patient consultations is a sure fire way to confuse people…and confused people don’t make decisions.” Too much information is as bad as too little and in both scenarios it erodes trust and confidence. Part of being a good communicator is building trust but if you are confusing people trust rarely follows.

And yet trust leads to improved case acceptance, something that Bao-Tran’s and Nathan’s advisory work tends to focus on. Improved case acceptance is incredibly valuable for the growth of practices, whether it’s just expanding an existing one or starting or acquiring new ones.

Better Practice Management

When it comes to fine-tuning a practice and improving on the day-to-day operations, communication is both the tool and process through which dentists can ensure that their practice fosters a productive work environment.

What Fast Growth Practice can help with is creating practices that are predictable, profitable, and enjoyable. A lot of this has to do with creating relationships with patients, but relating to staff members and knowing how to handle oneself in the important relationship that exists between employer and employees is equally as important. In these areas, too, good communication can make things much easier.

There’s no culture of accountability that is possible without clear communication. People will not own up to their shortcomings or be willing to highlight their achievements if there’s not a culture of open communication that allows it. This includes both being comfortable and encouraged to speak up but also knowing that concerns will be listened to closely. As Bao-Tran likes to say “accountability has to work both ways and the role of good communication is to keep the channels open so that everyone’s voices can be heard while working together toward shared goals.”

Conclusion

The strength of a dentist’s ability to communicate affects their work in numerous ways. It starts by influencing whether or not a nervous patient will decide to visit the practice or simply wait it out and hope that things will clear up on their own. Communication style also greatly impacts trust and whether patients accept treatment recommendations or whether they decline out of confusion. Finally, issues around human resources and day-to-day operations in a dental practice can also be improved by adopting good communication practices. Not only does it help with accountability and reporting, but communication can often make for a less tense, more open workplace where dentists will enjoy spending their time.

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