I’m about to use a dirty word…

Dr. Chris Salierno explains why "profit" should not be a dirty word to dentists. Having a profitable practice can lead to many good things for many people.

Nov 12th, 2018
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Profit. There it is, I said it. I hope I didn’t offend anyone’s delicate sensibilities. I’ve found that the word “profit” is one of the dirtiest words a health-care provider can use.

It conjures images of unethical hacks who drill, fill, and bill their way to success with little regard for patients. We picture the up-sellers and the bait-and-switchers who, like the proverbial used car salesman, try to squeeze every dime out of their customers using misdirection and doublespeak. We are health-care providers, not snake oil salesmen! We should care more about our patients’ oral health than our bottom line.

Sure, I agree, but I think we can be great stewards of our patients’ oral health and great stewards of our businesses at the same time. These principles are not mutually exclusive. And, when those two guiding principles are at odds with each other, I will always choose my patient’s faith over profit. But we should become more comfortable discussing profitability. We should recognize that profit does not come at the expense of great care.

If we are more profitable, it means we can accomplish three things. First, of course it means we can take home more money. You know what? We should stop apologizing for that. We took on the debt to earn an education and we continue to carry the risk of running a small business. We deserve to be able to make a comfortable living for our efforts like everyone else. Profit means we can provide for our families.

Second, having more money left over in the business allows us to invest in new technologies and study new techniques. We can travel and learn in hands-on courses. We can find products that allow us to provide care more efficiently, predictably, and affordably for our patients. Profit means more advanced care for those whom we serve.

Finally, a more profitable practice is able to be more charitable. It’s hard to discount or even donate your care when you’re struggling to make payroll every two weeks. It’s hard to travel to remote areas and work in a free clinic when you’re under pressure to pay your bills. Profit means more charity.

So, let’s stop making “profit” a dirty word. We can protect the rights of patients and deliver world-class services to them while still being concerned for the health of our small businesses.

Cheers,

Chris

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