A partner in practice, a partner for life

Jan. 1, 2019
Contrary to the raging skeptics, my wife Kris and I have enjoyed 24 anniversaries working under the same roof for the same goal, solving our patients’ dental problems.

By Brian S. Nylaan, DDS

Today’s dentist is in a battle for that discretionary dollar, facing challenges from both the consumer market as well as from penny-pinching insurers. So why would you not want to win these wars side by side with the person who committed to you for better or worse? Contrary to the raging skeptics, my wife Kris and I have enjoyed 24 anniversaries working under the same roof for the same goal, solving our patients’ dental problems.

The biggest benefits of having a long-term dental office manager
EHR and the office manager: The chart stops here

Having her manage the office has been a stress reliever for me because it first allows me to concentrate on what I do best, which is to team up with my hygienists and assistants to provide the most up-to-date treatment possible. We gladly pass the responsibility on to Kris and her team for time and money issues and I don’t have to worry about possible business improprieties that have damaged other offices. Talking money in a stagnant economy can be a challenge, but she does it well because the end result affects our practice. People appreciate the fact it is the same person they talk with consistently, which brings a higher degree of comfort in a stressful transaction.

Now, beyond finances, I take advantage of her organizational strengths in keeping track of the minute details of a changing business world. This gives me time to expand my professional abilities into new areas like lasers and implantology. She handles OSHA, HIPAA, employment records, insurance disputes, and any other compliance requirements, in addition to doing all of our online marketing. The business aspect of this practice flourishes because of her vested interest in our overall success.

Could this situation work for every couple? The first thing you have to keep in mind is if they have the talent to do the job. I was lucky; Kris’s background in dentistry is strong – she is both a CDA and RDA. Combining that with our relationship that thrives on open communication, we have made this work for close to 25 years. A doctor does have to recognize and have the courage to tell his spouse if things are not working, as he would to any other team member in order to retain the respect of the remaining team members. You never want to create an office environment where the staff vocalizes a belief that she has the position because she’s the doctor’s wife. That would be a cancer that would severely impact one’s professional success and even compromise the quality of patient treatment. Any aura of negativity in an office could easily send some of your best patients to the office down the street.

Again, because I am the leader of the office, this situation works for me. Our overall teamwork improves as Kris and I can bounce ideas off each other with the knowledge we both benefit from a successful one or suffer from a failure. Those successes and failures follow us home, allowing us to support each other at the end of the day without losing something in the translation as we work together towards office growth. Our relationship is stronger because we communicate daily, trust each other, and enjoy the fruits of our labor together. The best thing overall is the thought that when I go to sleep, she has my back no matter what.

Brian S. Nylaan, DDS has practiced in Grand Rapids, Mich., for the last 24 years. He and his team enjoy exploring new technologies to improve the quality of care for their patients. He can be reached at [email protected].