Abington Orthodontist Dr. Calvin Lee Writes His Story and Story of L&M Orthodontics.
Our Story Through My Eyes
by Calvin Lee, DMD, MS
Practice what you preach
Maybe it’s my military background or maybe it was from scheduling and following the events of my day since I was in middle school, but I have always been a stickler for promptness. Generally it’s been a positive life habit, but it has gotten me in precarious situations too. I remember during my residency, a colleague of mine had a dinner party for all of the residents at her house in Bethlehem, PA. This was pre navigation systems and smart phones so I wasn’t sure how long it’ll take to drive there. All I knew was I wasn’t going to be late. I first had to pick up my then fiancé from Delaware so I made sure that I left my house an ample three hours early. We arrived to her house 45 minutes early. I wasn’t going to just sit in my car so we rang her doorbell. You could see the surprise on her and her husband’s face as they invited us in; their home was not ready and they were still in sweats. My wife later asked me “Who does that?” To which I proudly replied, “We weren’t late.”
We all learned the “golden rule” in grade school. Treat others as you would want to be treated. It’s easy to apply this rule towards people we know and care about. How awesome would it be if everyone applied this rule to those that aren’t quite as significant in our lives? I had previously worked in an office that resembled an assembly line. The orthodontist did not and could not see all of the patients; he only focused on the new patients or the patients who were having a serious enough problem which called for his attention. It was all about production and generating income. I had very different ideas on running a practice. I had decided early on that I would not use an answering service. All off hour calls came directly to me. I was committed to seeing every patient at every visit. For me, there was nothing worse than going to a doctor’s appointment on time and waiting 30, 40, even 60 minutes to be seen as if my time did not matter. I will never forget going to an eye doctor for a 12pm appointment. I juggled my schedule so that I didn’t have to be back to work until 2pm. Surely two hours was ample time. As the clock reached 1:30pm and my name was not yet called, I decided to leave. The staff at this office asked if I’d like to reschedule to which I replied “not with this office”. I vowed that I would do my best to respect my patient’s time by running on schedule.
A major challenge for any new business owner is to generate income especially as expenses mount up. Orthodontics, is by and large an elective procedure. There are huge benefits to having a beautiful, healthy smile but it’s by and large elective nevertheless. Many people inquire about young children needing braces (known as Phase 1 treatment). Although there are some very real reasons for early treatment, (e.g. legitimate bite problems, severe crowding, psycho-social issues involving teeth to name a few), I have noticed that many young children undergo early treatment unnecessarily. Whether this is patient/parent driven or orthodontist driven I’m not sure. I have always thought it best to give families all options and the pros/cons of each and then make a recommendation based on how I would treat if he/she were my child. When you are completely honest with families and your concern is not about starting a case but your concern is truly for the child, most families are very appreciative which is truly rewarding. In the fourteen years that I have been in practice, I can only recall two times where I have informed a family that early treatment was not necessary but they decided to believe otherwise and started early treatment elsewhere.
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