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Why I Became a CADS Member

It has been 10 years since I moved to Austin and became a part of CADS. I now think of it as my dental family and have felt welcomed from the start. Read more

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President’s Message May 2017

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President’s Message March 2017

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The Power of Mentorship

Every year, approximately 5,200 dental students graduate from 66 programs across the country.  Some enter residencies, others join family members in their practices, and handful commit to community health programs.  Of course, many enter the general dental workforce as part one of the various models available, ready to take on the world.  We all remember that feeling on graduation day, basking in the accomplishment of surviving the rigors of dental school, and gaining a doctorate in one of the world’s great professions.

However, the first year out can often be quite humbling.  We realize quickly that we don’t have all the answers, and that there is a lot more to practicing dentistry than what we learned in those four fast years.  This is not to diminish the efforts of our faculty, but there is only so much you can pack into two years of classes, and two years of supervised practice.  Most of us graduate with little knowledge of practice management, investing, budgeting, human resources, taxes, and of course the insurance industry.  There is also the incredible amount of advanced clinical skills and knowledge required to practice at a high level, which takes years to acquire and refine.  

It is my firm belief that the majority of those in our profession are committed to excellence at their craft, no matter the practice model or specialty.  We all feel the unique satisfaction of healing our patients, many of whom choose us to be their doctor for the rest of their life.  Dentistry is a truly special field, one in which we still have the ability to develop genuine relationships with our patients and staff, while being able to enjoy evenings and weekends with our friends and families.  

That being said, none of us can achieve our goals alone.  This takes a lifetime of learning from our teachers and mentors, who pass along their knowledge and skills acquired from a combination of their own experience and information gleaned from their own predecessors.  These people may be instructors in residencies & continuums, community leaders, colleagues, or even those non-doctors who have supported the dental industry.  We can make some progress on our own, but it is through sharing ideas and staying humble students that we can really thrive as practitioners.  

Here at the Capital Area Dental Society, we are working on facilitating these relationships within our new Mentorship Program.  We have developed a section within our website devoted to this program, with volunteer mentor profiles and contact information available to all members looking for guidance.  Additionally, we will be organizing various events in the coming years to allow for face-to-face interaction among members who are hoping to learn and share knowledge with their colleagues.  I encourage all those interested in becoming a part of this new initiative to attend the first Mentorship Mixer of 2017, which will be held on March 23rd at the Flying Saucer.  Thank you to all those mentors out there who give back to those who are still finding their way, and for those who are in need of that guidance – please reach out to the Society, we are all in this together!

By Matthew J. Heck, DDS
CADS President, 2016-2017

 

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President’s Message February 2017

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President’s Message January 2017

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Giving Thanks

As we move past the Holiday Season, I think it’s important for us to pause and appreciate all that we have.  While there are many differences between our members (which is part of what makes our Society so strong), there are some universal influences that we all share:

Our Families – We all have people in our lives that share our blood and are the foundation for everything we do.  Through all of the hustle and bustle of professional life, let’s all remember that when it’s all said and done, these are the people who matter the most.

Our Friends – While we all love our families, our friends are the balancing influence that keeps us grounded.  We lean on them, laugh with them, and share countless memories with them.  Without our friends, our lives would be incomplete.

Our Home – We are so fortunate to be living in a city like Austin.  This place is so physically, culturally, and financially healthy.  Most of us are also very proud to be Texan, and of course we are blessed to live in the greatest country on the planet (despite the recent political circus!).

Our Practice – Whatever model you work in, the opportunity to be a healer every day is so fulfilling.  We are so fortunate to be practicing in a field that allows us so much reward, and yet also gives us the time to be with friends and family.

Our Staff – These people are the engine that keeps us moving.  They enable us to practice in this incredible field, and without them we would not be able to treat our patients.  Remember to tell your staff how much they are appreciated (frequently!).

Our Mentors – We have all gone in many different directions within dentistry, but certainly all have those who have significantly influenced the way we practice.  Let these people know how much they have meant to you and your career.

Our Patients – This may be the most unique relationship we have with anyone in our lives.  In the words of our friend and fellow Austinite Dr. Simon Garza, “this relationship should be cherished”.  Our patients are our lifeblood, and it is such a privilege to be caring for them.  I hope we all work hard to develop this relationship into one based on trust and honesty, and thank them regularly for the opportunity to be their doctor.

From all of us at the Capital Area Dental Society, thank you all for being a part of our organization.  Here’s to a fantastic New Year!

By Matthew J. Heck, DDS
CADS President, 2016-2017

 

 

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President’s Message November 2016

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President’s Message October 2016

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Our Study Club

 

In this summer’s messages, I attempted to frame the current challenges and virtues of organized dentistry, and briefly described the efforts we are making at the local level to respond to these issues.  In this month’s issue, I would like to formally introduce one of our new initiatives: the CADS Study Club.

 

Study Clubs are a fantastic way to broaden our knowledge of the dental field, and enable us to learn from each other’s failures and successes.  They are also a great way for us to connect with each other and build a referral network with those we know are trying their best to care for their patients.  However, many study clubs are very expensive, exclusive to a small group, and even difficult to attend due to location.  We have decided to start our own Study Clubs at CADS, with intention of them being affordable, open to all CADS members, and offered at multiple locations within the Capital Area.

 

This year, we are starting a single pilot club to optimize our process, and then intend on opening multiple clubs next year.  Our first session will be held on Saturday November 19th, with a guest lecture from Dr. Bill Robbins, which will focus on taking proper records (models/photos/etc.) On Saturday December 10, Dr. Robbins will return to discuss global diagnosis and treatment planning.  We believe that these first two sessions will serve as a foundation for the third and fourth sessions, to be held in February and June of 2017, allowing all Study Club members to share their own cases and discuss the challenges and successes they have had with them.

 

We will be holding the Study Club at the Heritage Plaza Building (centrally located at Mopac/Spicewood Springs), and will have lunch provided at each session.  Our intention is to have the first two sessions more structured with lecture, and then let the group lead us in a more informal discussion as to the direction/focus of the spring sessions.  Additionally, the total fee for club membership will only be $150 per CADS member for the entire year, which is dramatically lower than the cost for any other study club offered in the Capital Area.  Please save these dates in your calendars if you are interested in joining, and look for electronic communication coming soon for registration details!

 

By Matthew J. Heck, DDS
CADS President, 2016-2017

 

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President’s Message September 2016

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Kickoff!

September brings new beginnings for many of us.  Students return to school, the next round of new dentists enter the workforce, and many of us get to catch our breath after busy summers at work.  Fall activities get underway in many organizations, including our own, as we build new relationships and discover new ideas in various seminars and conferences.

If you’re a sports nut like I am, however, it also means the start of football season.  It is a time when hope springs eternal and everyone has a chance.  There is optimism and excitement among the teams and their fans, no matter what happened the year before.  Of course, reality checks us all throughout the season, but the excitement and thrill of our uniquely American sport is without equal.

In my practice, I use football analogies constantly.  While this undoubtedly is influenced by my own affection for the sport, it is also because there are many applications to the values learned and organizational structure of the team.  Here are few that you may find useful in your day to day conversation with your patients or staff:

  1. “I’m like the quarterback, and our specialists are the receivers.”  I use this often to help patients understand that our goal is to get them healthy (in the end zone), and this often cannot be accomplished without the help of a talented team.  Of course, in this analogy, the patient is the football!
  2. “Football is a game of inches, and dentistry is a game of microns.”  Patients sometimes have a hard time understanding why a small open margin could mean failure of a restoration, or how a tiny radiolucency can turn into an ER visit if not attended to.  This helps me put our small world into perspective for my patients.
  3. “We’re going to have to call an audible here.”  This can be helpful when explaining to a patient that treatment will have to be changed mid-procedure.  There are many variables in dentistry, some out of our control, which can require the plan to be altered at a moment’s notice in order to achieve the desired result.
  4. “I’m the head coach, and ultimately the one who is responsible.”  I find this to be very helpful with patients and staff.  When a case is not going as planned or there is a failure in systems, I think it is important for the patient to know that as the leader of the practice it is on me to take ownership of the problem, and take the steps necessary to fix it.  The same goes for missed assignments or mistakes made by the staff – although everyone may know who did it, I make a point to never single out the individual, and try to use it as an opportunity for the team to learn together.  As a football fan, there is nothing more aggravating than watching a coach throw one of their players under the bus for making crucial errors in a game.  As the leader, the onus of responsibility lies with us to get the job done.

I hope some of you can find use in these few examples in your daily practice, and of course, here’s to a great football season!

Ability is what you’re capable of doing.  Motivation determines what you do. 

Attitude determines how well you do it.”   –Lou Holtz

By Matthew J. Heck, DDS
CADS President, 2016-2017

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President’s Message August 2016

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Leading the Way

As I have become more active in organized dentistry, the one thing I continue to hear is: “How does CADS continue to have such great success?” To be honest, the Capital Area Dental Society is looked upon as a component society to emulate across the country. Our leadership across the Board is innovative and energetic, and it shows in every function they execute. Between the networking events put on by the Membership Committee, socials organized by the New Dentist Committee, regulatory efforts of the Legislative Committee, excellent speakers brought in for the General Meetings, and the incredible work done by CADF, our local society is truly leading the way as a grassroots organization. However, as I wrote in the July STAR article, the key to long-term success in any association is keeping a healthy balance of dedication of current best practices, and staying open to new ideas.
I would argue that the city of Austin reflects that concept perfectly. The core of what makes Austin, live music, valuing small businesses, progressive attitudes, keeping it weird, healthy living, excellent higher education – all of these are still alive and well as they have been for many decades. Our city has also been at the forefront of new technology, startup businesses, and growth of many industries that have kept it relevant and healthy. We believe that if CADS is going to continue to lead the way as a strong Society, we need to imitate this same balance. Our leadership is committed to maintaining the practices that has kept CADS a vibrant organization, but is also aware that members are looking for more value in today’s changing landscape.
After extensive effort and research, CADS has come to the conclusion that there are two areas our members would like to see more from us: mentorship and education. Of course, there are many opportunities currently in place for our members to network, but there are admittedly limited venues provided by CADS to foster mentoring relationships. Our focus this year will be to grow a program that facilitates these connections, primarily through forums on the CADS website and by enhancing our networking events. We all know that one of the most important benefits of membership in our organization is in the friendships we make here, and that includes those that are based on the sharing of experienced knowledge with those who are eager to learn.
The other area that we will focus on strengthening this year is in the education program. While CADS currently offers world class lectures at our General Meetings, these are short programs that are limited in their content due to time constraints and format. The response to this challenge will be twofold: implementation of CADS Study Clubs, and establishing an annual CE Meeting for the Capital Area. While there are some excellent study clubs across the Austin area, many of our members stated that the cost and location of these clubs were prohibitive. Our goal is to establish multiple, regional study clubs that are offered at a low cost to CADS members. We believe that this will offer a unique opportunity for members to collaborate and learn with each other, in a convenient and affordable venue.
We are all aware of the excellent Continuing Education Conferences held in San Antonio (TDA), Dallas (Southwest Dental Conference), and Houston (Star of the South). As Austin continues to grow rapidly, the need for a similar event is becoming more apparent. Our intent is to create a program that centers on a singular topic, and focuses on attracting high profile speakers. We anticipate that this conference, as well as the Study Clubs, become annual events that our members can count on every year.

Look to our various media outlets for further details on these new programs in the coming months. Thank you all for your continued support!

By Matthew J. Heck, DDS

CADS President, 2016-2017

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President’s Message July 2016

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Exploration vs. Exploitation

Dr. James Mach, former professor of the Stanford Graduate School of Education, is best known for his work in organizational decision making.  His theory focuses on the notion that true success in any organization lies in a balance between exploration of new ideas and exploitation of proven principles.  Too much or little of either, he argues, can be catastrophic for a business or association.  When a group engages in exploration, there is an element of risk, but ultimately of high long-term reward if that effort is fruitful.  Conversely, exploitation of established practices can lead to increased short-term efficiency and better execution, but without adequate innovation there is the potential to become stagnant and therefore irrelevant.  Examples of companies that have thrived in this balance are Apple and Amazon, both of which have maintained their core identity but have embraced change to remain at the forefront of their respective markets.

This idea can clearly be applied to our clinical practices.  There are established principles in dentistry that must be adhered to within any case, including healthy joints, good occlusion, elimination of disease, proven materials, and sound technique.  Most would agree that those goals are essential to long-term clinical success, and have been established for decades.  What is not agreed upon, however, is how to achieve those goals.  There are many schools of thought regarding the best methods to achieve stable joints, what designates a solid occlusal scheme, how to eradicate periodontal pathology and caries, and of course what materials and methods are used to accomplish them.

If Dr. Mach was to analyze our practices, I believe he would suggest that we attempt to find equilibrium between the core tenants of traditional dentistry, and the many incredible advancements that are being made in dental materials and technology.  Too much reliance on the past can lead to a lack of efficiency and limit services we can offer to our patients, but many of those established principles are still crucial and cannot be ignored.  Excessive dependence on new products and techniques can lead to a sacrifice in quality in the name of innovation, but with proper utilization they can also provide drastic increases in clinical competence and productivity.

This theory of organizational decision making is also essential to our Association.  The ADA has devoted substantial resources to maintaining the relevance and vitality of the Association.  Much effort has been focused on membership value, which at the national and state levels is mostly manifested through policy.  It is crucial that our leadership at the ADA and TDA continue to fight for the integrity of our profession, as they have for many years, but it is also critical that those same leaders are advocates for those affected by new challenges that we are all aware of in our field.  The hope is that these continued efforts will not only give a voice to our members, but also allow them to provide the best care possible in an optimal environment for their patients.

At the local level, we at CADS are also working diligently to support our professional community and improve our own component organization.  This Dental Society has been in place for decades, and has always been looked upon as one of the best in the country.  The experience and knowledge at CADS is phenomenal, which has allowed us to provide sustainable benefits to our members that they can regularly experience.  However, we also have had an influx of new leaders and ideas, increasing our opportunities for member networking, continuing education, technological advancement, and charitable dentistry.  The CADS Board is committed to standing by the principles & practices that have made our Society so strong, and promise to be proactive in response to the needs of our members.  Thank you all for your support, and enjoy your summer!

By Matthew J. Heck, DDS

CADS President, 2016-2017