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Focusing on the whole patient

Sept. 1, 2006
Staff and attitude - “treating people the right way” - help Las Vegas practice shine, succeed, and stand out

Staff and attitude - “treating people the right way” - help Las Vegas practice shine, succeed, and stand out

Story by Kevin Henry, Editor. Cover and story photos by Ingrid Williams

In a city where glitz and glamor may sometimes outweigh form and function, Dr. Jim Willardsen brings a simple philosophy with him every day to his Las Vegas practice - a patient is more than just a mouth. He or she is a whole person, and any dentistry done in his office should be based on treating the whole person.

“From the moment a patient steps into our practice, we try to listen to him or her and find out what is important,” Dr. Willardsen explained. “I don’t want to build a practice around anything other than what is best for the whole patient. If we know the consequences of such things as smoking and poor nutrition, then we can give the patient the building blocks to better health.”

In a town where mega-buffets reign supreme and smoke fills the casinos, Dr. Willardsen’s approach to helping patients stay healthy is like a breath of fresh air. Located less than four miles from the lights and sounds of the famed Las Vegas Strip, Dr. Willardsen says one of the keys to his practice’s success comes from “treating people the right way.”

Contact information for Dr. Jim Willardsen
6440 W. Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV 89103
(702) 876-8505
Click here to enlarge image

“If you treat patients better than they expect, you’ll always have happy patients,” he said. “You might not always exceed the patient’s expectations, but you can always match them. I think the key is communicating with patients and helping them realize that you are not a magician. If you’re kind and genuine, the patient will know it.”

Much of Dr. Willardsen’s outlook on life he credits to his dad, who had a long and distinguished career practicing dentistry in California.

“I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as my dad,” Dr. Willardsen remembered. “He was raised on a farm and had a very disciplined childhood. He always played hard and worked hard. He would work 12-hour days in the dental office, four or five days a week. He worked so hard that it caused me to step back and take a look at my own life.”

When Dr. Willardsen stepped back, he decided to make family and recreation more of a priority. His passion for bicycles has seen him take on 210-mile single-day bike rides and his family now includes three children, all under the age of 7.

Family also includes his brother Joe, who is featured on this month’s cover of Dental Economics. The two may share a last name, but they have a different way of viewing their dental livelihood.

“Joe takes an external advertising approach and built his own practice where I bought into an existing practice and focus more on crown and bridge than cosmetics,” Jim explained. “Each has its advantage, and I know we’re both happy practicing our individual styles of dentistry.”

Dr. Jim Willardsen credits much of his happiness and success in the office to his staff.

“The best thing about my practice is my staff,” said Dr. Willardsen, who has a staff of 11 and is one of two doctors working in a 10-operatory practice. “We have a fun environment and we enjoy working together, and the patients can sense that.”

Caren Grider and Dr. Jim Willardsen in Las Vegas
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A key member of Dr. Willardsen’s staff is Caren Grider, his dental assistant who has worked with him for nearly six years.

“Caren doesn’t want to make waves, she wants to ride them,” Dr. Willardsen beamed. “If a problem arises, she deals with it. Caren is a happy person and she is easy to be around.”

Grider is quick to repay the compliment.

“Dr. Willardsen is easygoing and makes the office fun,” she said. “He is a great dentist and a great guy. I love being able to help patients and help change someone’s smile. It’s an awesome experience to see patients get so emotional about their new smile.”

“In life, there are givers and there are takers. I try to find people for my staff who are givers, and Caren is certainly one of those people,” Dr. Willardsen added. “You can just sense that she is a happy person and someone who enjoys life. That’s the type of person with whom I want to surround myself.”