Six Things to do Every Day



Let’s start with the understatement of the year- Dentistry is demanding. Focusing on small objects and doing our best work for six to eight hours a day can be physically draining. Dealing with the people attached to those teeth can and should be a joy. But staying focused on people as well as small objects just doubles the amount of energy we need during the day. Add to the mix the occasional difficult patient, a case that doesn’t seat, and perhaps a bit of business management, and your day could either be incredibly energy draining or equally rewarding.

We cannot avoid the imperfections of dentistry and life and we cannot dodge the many responsibilities that come with the privilege of owning a practice. But we can hedge our bets and be prepared for the things that get thrown at us every day. Here are a few things that have helped me over the years. I hope you find them useful.


Eat a good breakfast

You’ve heard it a million times but many people (perceive that they) don’t have time for breakfast. A high protein, moderate carbohydrate start to a day is an instant energy boost. My wife and I love our vegan protein shakes, but there are many other ways to get a great, tasty, essential energy surge for your mornings. Consult a nutritionist or a health coach or do some reading to find what works best for you. But please do not skip that morning fueling of your body’s engine!

Look in the mirror

Take a good look at yourself. What do you see? Do you see a living, vibrant, productive human being endowed with skills that few others have? I don’t care how successful or unsuccessful you (think you) are; you are, at a minimum, those wonderful things! Pause for a moment and see something great in the mirror.

Do you see something about yourself that you’d like to improve? Embrace it. Use it as a vehicle to be just a little bit better today. If you’re not what you want to be physically, think of ways to make yourself better. If you’re not what you want to be clinically, think of things you can study or learn. And if you’re not what you want to be personally, think of little things you can do to improve your relationships. We ALL have flaws. We are ALL imperfect. We do not have to accept those flaws as unchangeable. And we most certainly need not beat ourselves over the head over our imperfections. It feels great to have made improvements in all aspects of our lives, but remember that it takes a long time to become an overnight sensation and that change comes about as a result of a sustained effort, beginning with baby steps. Whatever it is you want to improve, take that baby step today!



We are hunters and gatherers by nature. By moving, we tell ourselves down to the cellular level that we are fulfilling a purpose. By moving, we are strengthening our hearts and developing collateral circulation. A general guideline is to do 150 minutes a week of cardiovascular exercise; that is, brisk walking, light running, cycling, elliptical machine use, etc. You can do five 30- minute sessions, ten 15- minute sessions, or any formula that works for you. The more days you do some cardio, the better.

By using some form of resistance training, we are toning our muscles to avoid the ill effects of aging. I like to get at least two resistance training sessions a week to stay toned. Try some push-ups, wall-sits, or planks at home.  Better yet, engage a personal trainer to show you things you can do for yourself. It’s a great investment!


Years ago, someone told me that gratitude is currency. That is SO true! Just about everyone walking this earth can think of something to be grateful for. You are blessed with, in the very least, a skill set that few others have. You have the ability to help people and earn an above-average living. Are your parents living? Are you healthy? Do you have a spouse? Children? Friends?  A roof over your head? Did at least one good thing happen to you today? I challenge you to think of at least three things to be grateful for every time your head hits the pillow each night. Do that and you will wake up prosperous each morning.

Change a life

Sometime during my morning routine, I put the following thought into my head: “Whose life will be better because of me today?” When you think about it, isn’t that what we are here for? I submit that even the simplest task we do for patients is really a powerful change to a sensitive part of a person’s moment-to-moment existence. And how do you think you can impact the life of the letter carrier or the UPS or FedEx guy when you greet them by name or offer them a cup of coffee or bottle of water when they come in? How about that team member you thank in a special way? Every interaction we have offers us the opportunity to enhance the life of another human being. For me, that’s more than enough to get me out of bed, happy to be alive, no matter what else is going on in my life.

Arrive early

Get to your office early. Ask the same of your team Walk into your office see what your patients will see when they come in. Look over your charts and have an idea of what you’ll be doing. Try to remember something about everyone you’re seeing today. And have a morning huddle to discuss it all. It only takes 10-15 minutes. Being prepared and punctual prevents that awful feeling of falling behind and gives you a greater sense of control of your day.

You can attain fulfillment in an imperfect, demanding, rapidly changing world. Take care of your health. Eat well and exercise regularly. Stay positive- remember that there are many good reasons to do so. And approach your work and everyone around you with enthusiasm. Prosperity happens when you make the world better for yourself, your families, and for those you serve. Take a few simple steps to assure that it happens in your world!


Seeing with Different Eyes

My Grandfather’s Blessings is a wonderful book of stories by psychotherapist Dr Rachel Remen. Her anecdotes of things that she learned from her very wise grandfather, along with the application of those lessons in real life offer us ways of changing our lives and the lives of those around us for the much better. As I read this wonderful book, I am inspired to relate her wisdom.

Dr Remen tells the transformative story of an oncologist who was on the verge of burnout in his career. She counseled this brilliant, accomplished life saver to begin to look for and document great things at work on a daily basis and to see his patients as though he were a novelist. The doctor began to see his people as brave, loving human beings and developed a new devotion to his very important work.

Let’s ponder.  If we take a moment to think about them, some of the things we see in our practices as mundane are anything but that. We render treatment to preserve and protect the critical components of a very sensitive part of a person’s health, comfort, function, dignity and esthetics. We spend so much energy “educating” people how important our work is; yet, we glance over what we see as simple fillings, routine prophies, and even denture adjustments. Of course we take pride in our restorative and other “major “services, but do we really understand the impact of our work on a human being? If we understand that impact, perhaps we could see our work in its proper perspective. We change people’s lives for the better every day. See it all and prosper.

Now, let’s get a new set of eyes towards those we serve. Who is that person at the other end of your and your hygienist’s instruments? Have you thought about how you can make or are making their lives better when they are in your office? Do you discuss the people you’ll be seeing in your morning huddle? Many times our team reminds one another that Mrs X ‘s son just got engaged or Mr Y’s wife is seriously ill. Have you thought about how that knowledge could affect what you say or do for them? Did you know that, more often than not, things you say or do will affect their lives in ways you couldn’t possibly anticipate?

We’ve lost ten people from our office since the beginning of the year. We’ve gone to ten wakes / funerals in the last 2 months. At each one, the families were astonished that the dentist would show up at their most heartbreaking moments. To us , it’s just natural to use our standing with another human being support our people in good times and bad. To their families, it’s profoundly meaningful. We’ve also gone to wedding ceremonies (we seldom have time to stay for the receptions) and are greeted with the same level of meaningfulness.

Another example for you- how do you treat the letter carrier, UPS, FedEx, and other delivery people who visit you? Do you take the time to learn their names? Do you express any interest in them? Try it – you won’t believe the rewards you get for this. You may even get one of them to engage your services, by the way!

When we understand that our profession can be a huge source of healing in ways we cannot imagine, we begin to get curious. We discover that we are connected to almost everyone. We learn that we can make at least one person’s life significantly better by simply listening to them. And we can innovate and create new ways to build and redefine our offices as so much more than spinning tooth dust.

As so- called health care devolves into algorithm driven patchwork of the human body, we have huge opportunity to be people caring for people in unimaginable ways. Yes, they’re coming to us for dentistry. But when they receive so much more than a fixed tooth, crowns, bridges, periodontal work, etc., life become very, very rich for you and for those you serve.

So sharpen up those eye and ears and discover those people you serve. They’ll love you and you’ll love your work even more!




Last year, my prosthodontist friend called to tell me he was referring someone to me to evaluate for an all on four full arch rehabilitation. I thought to myself, “Wow, out of all the dentists in this area, my prosthodontist- the guy I refer to for all my impossible cases- is too busy so he’s sending me his overflow. How cool is that! But my friend  told me not to get too excited yet; the lady was price shopping and asked him for another good dentist in the area and he hoped that perhaps my fees were a bit lower than his specialist fees and that I wouldn’t mind seeing her. Of course, I agreed to see her. And, of course, my friend the prosthodontist was right

When I asked Mrs. Problem to tell me how I could help her, she went on a rant that began with  “ I need implants but I don’t want to have to pay for the prosthodontist’s fancy office”. As you could expect, our initial interview didn’t get too far. I don’t know what happened to Mrs. Problem, but she did give me some good talk points for which I am very grateful. With Mrs Problem in mind, I submit the following:


The emphasis of most of our education, from elementary school through Continuing Education is – perhaps rightfully- how to do things better. After all, reading, writing, math, science, etc are important if we are to advance in life.

In dentistry, our academic and technique classes and our Continuing Education are needed for establishing and advancing our careers. And, of course, it is so cool to get the latest and greatest gizmos, gadgets, and digital stuff so that we can do things more efficiently and be very impressive.

Indeed, people look at our offices with an expectation of our being on the cutting edge of our profession. But there’s a missing piece here, and that is the impact of who we are and what we do. This is precisely why we attract people with values similar to ours and why people like Mrs Problem leave our practices thinking that they are paying for our undeserved luxurious lifestyle

I think that the biggest aspect of learning something new, decorating our offices, or (intelligently) acquiring a new piece of equipment is to calculate, evaluate, project, celebrate and, perhaps, measure the impact that all of this has on the lives of the people we serve.

Think of the self esteem that beautiful set of veneers does for the person who seeks them. Think of the dignity that an all on four restoration restores to a person with malformed, debilitated teeth. Think of the life enhancement and disease prevention that great preventive services give to our fellow human being. And think of how wonderful it is for us and our teams, as well, to give those precious gifts to others in a warm and comfortable environment.

When we think outwardly; that is, when we see how our work can address the challenges faced by those who grace our offices, and project those feelings every working moment, we become a magnet for those who want and appreciate true care. And if we periodically check in with those we serve to see how they’re doing with our work, we reinforce to them and to ourselves that we are here to serve.


Mrs. Problem’s resentment of the prosthodontist’s and my (in her perception) bloated fees and extravagant lifestyles were her attempt to tell me that her values and ours are not in line. The impact of our mindsets was clearly not for her. I am totally fine with that and I know that this is the farthest thing from a judgment on what my or my prosthodontist’s practice are or should be. Our practices simply did not impact her the way she would have liked and that is OK.

The Mrs. Problems of the world will always be among us. With respect and without sarcasm, they will get the care they seek and deserve.

When we clarify our core values, project them in everything we do, and never forget that when our work is outwardly directed, our impact on those who seek, need, and want us becomes profound and life gets a whole lot better.

The Sky is Falling…or is it?

A young dentist (let’s appropriately call him Dr Young ) recently asked to speak to me. He was clearly anxious as he opened an envelope to show me that he had been served with a lawsuit relating to a procedure he had performed a year ago. The details are unimportant here; suffice it to say that from my cursory review of the papers, I am 100% confident that the attorneys for his malpractice carrier will manage the case well with minimal, if any, tangible impact on him.

My concern is for the very promising career of an outstanding young dentist who is also a dedicated public servant. You see, Dr Young is seeing his career coming to a rapid end, envisioning a modern-day tar-and-feathering by his state’s Board of Dentistry. He is also questioning his ability to do anything and is reluctant to do procedures like the one he did in the case we are discussing. Our President would call Dr Young’s mindset fake news. I call it a false narrative.

The recipient of a legal summons is rightfully not happy and Dr Young’s short-term anxiety is not unreasonable. But disgruntled patients and bad outcomes from procedures done well, from the goodness of our hearts, happen every day. We need to not only put it all into perspective, but we also need to grow from them. Here are a few things Dr Young and I discussed.

  1. Never work on a stranger was one of Dr Pankey’s famous sound bites. When we establish a connection as one caring human being with another, outcomes seem to always be better. And even when things go awry, as they occasionally do, fixing the problems is much easier when doctor and patient have a rock solid trust in one another
  2. You will be imperfect 100% of the time despite your best efforts. That is not to say that open margins, periodontal neglect, or gross occlusal discrepancies are to be passively neglected. The point is that we can always find something to improve in our work. That is not a failure; it is a learning experience. We cannot beat ourselves over the head if a procedure of ours isn’t beyond critique, a disgruntled patient leaves our practice or files a complaint, or even if our cash flow is not what the so-called experts tell us it should be. We can only use these experiences as vehicles for self-improvement.
  3. Show me a person without stress and I’ll show you a cadaver is one of my signature lines. Dentistry is stressful. So is anything else we do! We cannot let our problems define us. We need to know that we are capable to rising to the challenges we face Dr Brenee Brown talks about this in her wonderful book, Rising Strong.
  4. Work is important, but there is far more to life. A bad day at work does not mean that you are any less worthy a human being or any less loved and respected by those who know you.
  5. Most importantly- 98% of things we fear never materialize. The great motivational speaker, Earl Nightingale, told us this in his classic book, Lead the Field. A complaint, a disgruntled patient, or even a lawsuit will make you feel awful but will very likely not destroy your career or life.

Remember that the Constitution of the United States guarantees us the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That means that no one- not even you- is allowed to make you miserable. Don’t allow it.

I would love to see some feedback on this from the group. Any thoughts? How do YOU handle adversity?

How Strong are You?

Our very rewarding work demands a lot of us. We need to focus on small objects. We need to manage people both in our chairs and around us. We have bills to pay, courses to take, labs and suppliers to deal with, families to support, and on and on.  In dentistry as in life, there is a ton of stress. In fact, show me a dentist without stress and I’ll show you a cadaver!

Stress takes a physical toll on us and we need to be prepared. I’ve seen too many dentists overweight, slouched, with poor core and muscle tone, and barely capable of making it through a long and taxing day. Many dentists have told me that they are too busy to maintain a fitness regimen. I maintain that being physically and nutritionally strong are the two most critical keys to a happy, successful life. Couple that with the reality that, for some of us, working well pat the conventional retirement age of 65 will be necessary, especially if our life expectancy is into our 80s and beyond. So, we don’t want to become, as Dr. Pankey once warned us, “too old to work and too poor to retire”

Let’s take a look at what I’ll call fitness 101

Attaining fitness can be very intimidating for those who have not exercised in a while. Really and truly, though, the only ingredients you need are focus and patience.  A good gym with a good trainer and nutritionist would help, too, but let’s start with some basics.

For those with medical conditions, a consult with your friendly physician would be imperative.

For those who have not done anything in a while, some light walking several times a week would be a great way to work up to a nice baseline as I outline below.

I am trained to do 150 minutes of cardio a week. I do not care how it breaks down, as long as I have a minimum of 15-minute intervals. That is, I can do ten 15- minute sessions, five 30 minute sessions, two 45 and two 30-minute sessions, etc. Although I really enjoy running, my knees and back occasionally will politely request that I walk briskly. I listen to what my body tells me and, although I will occasionally defy it, I am generally attentive to what it tells me. Elliptical machines and stationery or real bicycles are also great.

Once you have your cardio act in order, it’s time to start thinking about resistance training. Toning your abdominal and back muscles; i.e. the core, is critical for flourishing as we age. A few suggestions- try holding a plank (the upward push – up position) for 20 seconds and increase your endurance gradually. And here’s a cute one- one fellow I’m following did some push-ups after each time he went to the bathroom at home

The impact of physical fitness on our focus, mood, self-esteem, and, of course, health is tremendous. The road to fitness begins with some simple steps which almost anyone can do. Of course, if you can engage a personal trainer and/ or a nutrition coach, you will get there at a faster pace.

Any way you choose to improve yourself is great. I did it; you can, too. Let’s take that first step now. As my mother used to say, you’ll thank me when you get older!

What Are Your Principles?

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others”
Groucho Marx.

The latest book I’m reading is Principles by Ray Dalio. Groucho’s principles have made me laugh for most of my life and I strongly recommend his work for everyone. But Mr. Dalio’s principles are ones we can ponder and live by.

Mr. Dalio has made a ton of money, which is really nice for him. HOWEVER, to quote his book, “While making money was good, having meaningful work and meaningful relationships was far better.”

I strongly suspect that, while Ray Dalio is clearly a master of financial markets, his work is successful because he is passionate about the people he has served all over the world. He loves interacting with those people and, in a world far more pressured and insane than ours, loves what he does.

What do you love in life? What makes you happy? What are YOUR unique principles that drive your existence?

If you could answer those questions, you can, indeed, structure your practice around your own happiness. And when you’re practicing happily- when you actually look forward to Monday morning- prosperity will inevitable follow.

There are online tools to look at your values. One is the Guilford values test. The link to it is below. Take a few minutes and see if you can find your own unique set of life’s priorities.

In my world, life is about loving relationships. I love the people who come to me for care. Some of them have been with us for decades and know as much about my family as I do about theirs. In our office, we take the time to assure that happens for everyone to the greatest degree possible. The time we take to do that and to discuss each individual’s health needs, wants, hopes, and finances makes us special in their eyes and makes them special in ours. Could our team spend less time using our soft skills and more time slamming out crowns, bridges, “cleanings”, etc.? Absolutely. But we choose not to and those who come to us prefer our approach. Those are our principles.

I think that Ray Dalio would have been a fantastic dentist, cut from the mold of Bob Barkley and L.D. Pankey. I have not finished his book yet, but it is pretty clear that his principles are very applicable to what we do. (So are Groucho Marx’s, but perhaps not necessarily in our dental offices.)

So, what are your principles? What thrills you? What do you value most about your life? And how does it all tie back into your daily work. A little bit of reflection could get you to the acres of diamonds that are in your backyard.

Staying Strong IS SO Important. Here’s One Good Reason

I was in a car accident last Friday, rear-ended while I was standing still. My car is repairable and will be OK. So will I. In fact, I am in far less discomfort than I or my chiropractor anticipated. I am convinced that this is due to 3 factors: 1- The gentleman who hit me swerved before impact and only hit the right rear corner of my car. 2- I have a well-made car. 3- and most importantly- my core strength is very, very good, thanks to the training I take in our gym.

We are engaged in a profession that is physically demanding. We need to be able to sit, stand, walk, bend, focus, look up, look down, loot to the sides, and move in ways that take a toll on us (that’s why they call it work) This requires a fair degree of strength and stamina.

If our bodies are not functioning properly or if we are in pain, our work and our temperament get disrupted. Dentists are known to be at risk for back issues. I happen to be a poster boy for that. Thank goodness (in the form of a great chiropractor and physical therapist) I have overcome some significant back issues.

At age 64, I am stronger than ever. My exercise program combining cardio and strength training enables me to look forward to working as long as I want, to approach work and play with tremendous energy, and, as I just learned, to withstanding the stress of a significant impact.

I am under no delusion that I am indestructible or that a more powerful impact could have had far more severe consequences. But I do know that my conditioning is a gift that keeps on giving.

Is your physical condition conducive to being your best? Do you do 150 minutes of cardio and two resistance training sessions a week? Can your workouts be improved? Have you engaged a trainer or, at least, done some research and reading on conditioning?

Stay strong and live healthy. I can do it. YES, YOU CAN, TOO!

Humility and Relationships




In Humble Inquiry, Edgar Schein discussed some pretty risky but rewarding behavior which, I think, is critical to a relationship driven practice and life.

You see, many of us were taught that the hierarchical, authoritarian model was the way to live and work.

At home, I’m the father. The bread winner. The provider of all the tools needed for success. My family simply needs to listen to me and everything will be right.


In the office, I’m the practice owner. I’m the boss. I’m the doctor. I’m risking it all for my success. I know how to fix your problem. Therefore, team members (read employees) and patients need to do nothing more than listen to me.




If my wife and my now grown kids heard me say this with any degree of seriousness, they would – at best-  laugh at me.


In the office, if my team heard me in the same way, they would either roll their eyes or look for another job. And if my patients heard me say this, followed by an authoritarian case presentation, their response would be the classic “Well, I’ll think about it” And I’d likely never see them again.


And if I were serious about those statements, there would be far less liquor in my house and even less hair on my head


Life is about relationships built on respect, trust, and love. Life is about listening and understanding. Life is about the open and safe exchange of ideas. Life is about humble inquiry. And, although dentistry used to be about the all-knowing doctor providing remedies to the subservient patient, our profession has become more about the same principles of humble inquiry. That, my friends, is a change for the better.


One of the challenges to maintaining a rewarding practice is creating a safe environment for the exchange of critical personal information. Within the limits of what is legal, if we engage our teams in some exchanges of personal information, we deepen those relationships and build loyalty, productivity, and, I dare say, a bit of love into our workplace. If we know our likes and dislikes, our hopes and fears, our challenges and triumphs, we bond so much better.


And if we somehow unlock the door to our patients’ minds and understand who they are, we can take the role of doctor to once unattainable levels. If we truly know the people we serve and act on a mission of altruism, we can use our relationship skills to motivate them to become as healthy as they want to be.


So how do we do all this?


Let’s understand what Schein calls Here and Now Humility


We went to college and dental school. We take God-knows-how-many hours of Continuing Education in the areas of our choosing. Indeed, we may well be more educated than our teams and our patients. We may have a clear and unmistakable vision for our practices and for our patients’ health. But we need our team to support and help us on our mission. They know more about some things than we do. They will see things that we occasionally cannot see. We need to be humble enough to create a safe environment for them to (get ready for this) point out the things we do not see or do not know.

And we certainly know more about occlusion, caries, periodontal disease, health, wellness, than those we serve. But our services are, for he most part, elective. There are so many ways to get a person to health. And each person has his or her own paradigm of what health, comfort, function, and esthetics are. Each person has his or her own intrinsic motivators and there are dozens of dentists they can choose if they don’t like our message or do not feel connected to us.


Here’s a suggestion for you: ask a team member how they’re doing. Then listen generously without interrupting. Listen carefully and follow up with another open- ended question about what they discussed. Allow them to open up a bit. Be supportive if they express some frustration. Be a cheerleader if they talk about something great. Perhaps then, or perhaps on another occasion, talk about something important to you. Let them get to know your human side. Allow them to see your vulnerability. Make it safe for them (within legal limits, of course), to be vulnerable, as well. It will take your relationships to much higher levels.


And how about using those same principles in your pre-clinical interviews? If you’re not doing pre clinical interviews, try doing one with a new or existing patient. Once you get good at it, you’ll love it. Dr Pankey taught us to never treat a stranger. It makes so much sense to earn trust and learn how to motivate each individual who joins your team or asks you for help.


Humility is the key to riches in every sense. Try it!


Dr. Stern

804 W. Park Ave.
Ocean, NJ 07712
(732) 493-8030

A National Guard Soldier with Attitude




Many of you know that I spend a fair amount of weekends treating National Guard soldiers. I am privileged to work with an outstanding team of dentists, physicians, auxiliary personnel, and administrators. Our dental team is charged with providing soldiers with triage and very basic dental services. Our mission is to free our heroes of any condition which could lead to needless pain and suffering, especially if they are deployed overseas to defend our nation. We are civilians serving in collaboration with our State Dental Officers, practicing dentists who belong to the Guard. Our team sees between 200 and 400 soldiers a day, which is no small feat.

I spent this past Saturday with our terrific team at a military base near my home here in New Jersey. Our work load was light but steady and, as usual, we were moving nicely through our process. About halfway through our day, I encountered a Sergeant who appeared very stone faced and almost hostile, despite my best efforts to establish a small relationship in the short time I have with these people. The Sergeant refused to answer any of the necessary questions I had about his medical history. He clearly was looking at me as some tooth fixer who had no business doing anything beyond looking at his teeth and getting him out of my presence.

I was clearly thrown by the Sergeant’s hostility towards the universally (?) likable, relationship centered, people- loving me. I always take time to make our soldiers comfortable; yet, I was met with borderline nastiness from this sergeant. Because of his lack of cooperation, I was unable to finish his triage to the standards the military needed, but I also knew that I could not coerce this man into giving me the information I needed. So I curtly dismissed him, forms filled out as best I could, and sent him on his way. He won, I lost, so I thought.  Something was very wrong and I just couldn’t pinpoint it.

During my usual fifteen minute lunch break, I discussed this soldier’s situation with our State Dental Officer, an insightful, compassionate Colonel who is deeply dedicated to the well-being of his soldiers. I’ve known this man for 7 years and we share a tremendous respect for one another.  The Colonel informed me that the soldiers we were seeing were all MMRs- Multiple Medical Resource; that is, they are affected by past combat experience (read PTSD). That explained everything and reinforced a principle that is key to dentistry ( and life, for that matter).).

You see, my Sergeant-with-an-attitude turns out to be a hero. He is carrying demons in his soul that neither I nor any untrained individual could comprehend. He must have encountered some awful emotional trauma overseas that he could not bear to discuss with a stranger. Although I very wisely backed off insisting that he disclose information that I was legitimately “entitled” to know, I did not fully grant this gentleman the dignity and love (yes, I said love) he has earned from me and 300 million people he has never met.

The lesson here for all of us is that every person we encounter has a story. At any given moment, we all are carrying thoughts of love, happiness, sorrow, stress, triumph, and tragedy. And at any given moment, any one of those emotions could dictate how we react to anything or anyone.

In our military work, there is not a whole lot of time to conduct relationship – creating interviews and guide people to their best dental and health decisions. But in our practices and in our daily lives, we have multiple opportunities to connect, co- discover, and empower other human beings to become better. A relationship centered dentist (and spouse, parent, sibling, friend, etc) has the ability to spend time understanding the person who is asking for help. Relationships of legitimate concern and empathy lead to outcomes that are magical, healing, and inspiring. Relationships reward us not only  with a great career which brings us a good livelihood, but also with  things that transcend material wealth. It’s no wonder that Dr Bob Barkley taught us that the health of the relationship is far more important than the health of the patient.

I love treating fearful patients and I love my soldiers. Yesterday’s experience was a reminder that I am a very good, but not perfect practitioner of relationship centered work and life. I hope I can meet my Sergeant-with-an-attitude sometime in the future and thank him for making me a better person. And I do hope that when I meet him again that he will be freed of the burden he bears from his work defending all of us.

If you see a soldier, please thank him or her. Commit an act of kindness toward them if you can. They take tremendous risk so that we can live as we do.

And when that patient -with-an – attitude visits your office, take the time you need  to learn their story. Whether it’s a minute, and hour, or 3 appointments, make it your highest priority to know your patient.  When you know  who they are, what their joys, sorrows, triumphs and defeats are AND when they know you’re sincerely concerned, your work will be meaningful, therapeutic, and tremendously rewarding.


Dr. Stern

804 W. Park Ave.
Ocean, NJ 07712
(732) 493-8030

Better, Richer, Stronger - Dr. Alan G. Stern / The Life Coach for Dentists
804 West Park Ave. Ocean, NJ 07712 / (732) 493-8030

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