The concept of checklists has become very popular over the last few years. I first became familiar with it when the book “Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande was recommended by a fellow dentist and friend. It struck home with me as I have always been a fan of lists. Over the last few years more and more of the dentists I have spoken with have begun implementing checklists as a way to improve efficiency and successful execution of complex tasks in the dental office. Recently my friend Kirk Behrendt posted a video on the use of checklists which is worth a few minutes to watch.
The question I ask myself, is where can we improve what we are doing in quality or efficiency by using a checklist? When those areas are identified the next step is to simply create a list of the sub tasks and create a user friendly checklist.
Hi Lee– It’s interesting to note that Gawande’s prior book, Better, was the “prequel” to The Checklisrt manifesto. In that book Gawande studied methods to improve not only himself but his surgical team. He used the airline industry as an example…that led to the Checklist Manifesto.
It’s also interesting to note a few other things…firstly that our process of examination, diagnosis, treatment planning and presentation can be converted into a checklist or used as such. Another things about the checklist is that we can discover some of the things we are doing well, and others that we are not doing well. From here we can dissect out the skills we need to work on and the skills we need to get “better” at doing. Those things can be “practiced.” It is amazing to me that most dentists practice dentistry…but never really practice.
A long comment—bvut an area I have a lot of interest in.
Lee Ann Brady says
Just downloaded “Better” to my kindle. I had not read it but will now. Thanks as always for being a voice for the non-technical side of our profession!
Great. These ideas work with both the technical as well as the non-technical issues. Most dentists get the idea of getting better at prepping and impressions and suturing. The area they don’t work on is the soft skills — and there are plenty of those that can be improved—teaching them is the key. Finding good teachers in dentistry…that can coach those sorts of things—well that’s hard to find.
I have always been a big fan of “old wise teachers and coaches” because they get it.
Hilarious timing…I ordered this book Sunday night on amazon and am getting it in the mail tomorrow! I hadn’t heard of it until I heard it suggested by Dr. Brian Schroder at our local SSC meeting a couple of months ago. I look forward to reading it! Thanks!
Thanks so much for sharing this. I can see myself in every single word and have been amazed of the way everything changes with an organized system. It’s just overwhelming.
Robert Allen says
One comment refers to the “wise old man”. I happen to be that guy. Having practiced actively for over 50 years. I fortunately still do practice to some degree. Many have said “you should be teaching”. After exploring the option of teaching at the local dental school, I convinced myself that I may shake the cage too much and probably would be invited to leave after the first day…never to return.
Many dental students have few warm bodies now on whom to practice proceedures in the physical setting of the dental school and must go off campus to remote clinics to fulfil the requirements for graduation. I , last year, was invited to be the adjunct professor of general dentistry in one such :’free” clinic in Norfolk, VA. I have enjoyed the experience immensly. The Park Place Free Clinic has three senior dental students working Wed, Thur and Fri, on fillings, extractions, and some endo. After 3 weeks, a new group arrives . This clinic is away from the eyes and ears of a dental school faculty. I can now give advice and a touch of reality to most of the graduating senior dental students without criticism from the school faculty….which, by the way, does not have a clue what goes on in these off-campus clinics. I have the opportunity to be the “wise old man”, who had loads of experience and receives great pleasure from teaching (my way).
Many of my students, ready to graduate, do not know how to chart a mouth; rely on chemical bonds to retain fillings (which just do not work–over long haul). struggle with extractions, want to do many composite fillings (without a rubber dam). Do not realize the success rates of silver amalgam over composites. Have never heard of a gold inlay !! What happened to the gold standard? Anyone can place an amalgam; but only a skilled, well trained operator can place a successful composite.
There were lots of things I did not know many years ago when I graduated. Today, there is a wide variance in the skill-levels of graduating students. Those that have poor , or weak skills seem to recognize their weaknesses and are going into general practice residences or into the military where they will have the advantage of skilled, experienced overseers.
My new class of 2014 students begins in a couple of weeks. I anxiously look forward to another great year with senior dental (and hygiene students)
Dr. Bob Allen VCU Class of 1959
If you want to set-up repeatable checklists and routines you can use this web application:
You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
Syncs with Evernote and Google Calendar, and also comes with mobile version, and Android and iPhone apps.
Russell Mclain says
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