An essay, by Dr. Michael Schuster
“All Truths Are Experienced Personally”
Have you ever felt in your ‘gut’ that something was wrong? That a decision you were about to make kept you up at night, or made you ‘sick to your stomach?”
In 1977 I was privileged to meet Dr. John Diamond who created a new discipline he called ‘behavioral kinesiology’. Dr. Diamond’s startling discovery was that indicator muscles would strengthen or weaken in the presence of negative emotional and intellectual stimuli, as well as physical stimuli.
A smile will make you test strong, while a negative statement, will make you test weak. Naturopaths and Homeopaths use ‘behavioral kinesiology’ to test various nutrients or drugs by using muscle testing.
Also, a lie will make you test negative, and a truth will make you test positive. This is interesting. Could this be somehow related to the success of some people in life, and the failure of others? I think so, but hard to prove, but quite easy to observe.
In our westernized culture, we stay busy, so we don’t have to think. We stay busy so we don’t have to feel. And then we anesthetize ourselves with alcohol, buying stuff, accumulating stuff, so we don’t have to think or feel.
So, what does this have to do with working a 3-day week? I’ve had quite a few surgeons as patients over the years. Maybe a dozen or more. They all, and I mean all, did surgery in the morning, and rounds in the afternoons. They did exams in the afternoons, follow ups in the afternoon. Case studies in the afternoon. Planning treatment in the afternoon.
They generally do surgery 3 mornings a week.
Why a 3-day work week?
- If you know a Chiropractor, ask him or her if they have any dentists as patients. The answer will be yes. Leaning over, doing dentistry 5 days a week is a formula for neck and back problems.
- I can’t tell you how many dentists in their late 50’s and early 60’s became disabled from working too many hours with their heads bent over in all sorts of ways, doing dentistry too many hours and too many days!!
- Working 3 clinical days a week is perhaps only possible for an ‘insurance free’ dentist.
I remember talked to a dentist after a webinar. His answer to becoming a PPO dentist was to increase his hours. He said, I used to work 3 days a week, and then I went to 4 days a week, and now I work 5 days and sometimes a half day Saturday.
Makes perfect sense, he’s working 40% more hours because he is getting 40% less pay from Insurance Companies.
The day I came out of the hospital from a ‘bleeding ulcer’, in my second year in practice, I make an important life decision. I said:
“I will only work 3 days a week or 12 days a month.”
I didn’t know at that time that choice would change my life. I was in the office a 4th day, working on cases, waxing up cases, talking to my technicians, other dentists, specialists. Planning, reviewing, reading, thinking and team meetings.
I am sure, absolutely sure, had I worked 5 clinical days a week, I’d would have become disabled, from neck or back issues.
Working 3 clinical days a week instigated a number of important changes in my life; I’d call them life changing.
- It meant I couldn’t work on everybody. The A---B---C time, procedures, patients, came from this.
- I decided to only work with A patients and B’s—those that had potential.
- Within several years, my practice was filled with A patients, doing A procedures for far more than UCR fees. More than 90% of my practice was working with A patients. It was a 100% referral-based practice.
- Granted my practice was smaller, much smaller than average, but my net profit was 4X the national average, and my enjoyment and quality of life was unmeasurable.
- It meant I could spend time with my kids when they were growing up.
- It meant that I could enroll at Iowa part-time in Perio--Graduate School.
- It meant that I had time to spend with patients, with team and my technicians and referral sources.
- It meant that I could really plan my cases, and wax up many of them.
- It meant that I could teach at the Pankey Institute a week a month for 11 years.
- It meant I could teach at the LSU Cosmetic Continuum for 7 years.
- It meant I could start the Schuster Center. I had both the money and time to do it. None of this could have happened if I had become an Insurance Dentist.
It meant that I had time to study, to review, to plan, and to reflect.
I learned that I could take a month off. How?? I could work the first 12 days of a month. 1-12 and yes that included Saturdays and Sundays. Go to Europe with my kids, from the 13 to the 15th of the next month and then work 12 straight days the next month. My team was paid for full time work and received profitability pay, because we produced and netted more working less at equitable fees than we would have made working more at 40% reduced fees!
I only took a month off once or twice a year, but never had a month where I lost production and kept my responsibilities to my family, other partners, technicians, and patients.
It also meant that I had plenty of time off to re-create. To run, to bike, to water ski, to boat, to travel, to take meaningful vacations with my family.
I began running in 1971 and ran 30+ miles a week for 26 years, and ran 4 marathons, and many half marathons in that time. I also worked out with my buddies at the ‘Y’ every day for an hour at lunch.
If you go back to the first several paragraphs—maybe there is a connection.
Working 3 days a week, finding the proper balance between WORK—PLAY-LOVE—WORSHIP put me in a POWER STATE emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially.
We are all running a Marathon, not a Sprint. As LD Pankey often said:
“The best thing to save for your old age is yourself!”
Walk, run, bike, lift weights, build strength in your neck and back at least an hour a day. I think we dentists must do very specific exercises to build muscular strength in key areas or we become victims of our profession.
Dr. John Herrin introduced me to the microscope in 1998, and I used it for the last 20 years of my practice. I finished all my preps under a microscope, trimmed my dies under a microscope, fit-checked crowns and onlays with a microscope, and adjusted my tmd appliances with a microscope.
Did final equilibrations of bonded restorations under the microscope.
Sitting upright is a life changer. I used Pelton and Crane Chairman chairs that move forward and backward to create the best posture for long appointments. I used special chairs which allowed for proper arm and back support and proper head posture.
There are hundreds of reasons NOT to be a PPO dentist (97% of all dentists are in at least 1 PPO) and of course they can’t work 3 days a week, because they are GIVING AWAY 35-40% of a UCR (usual and customary fee).
We all make choices. Some BIG and every day we make hundreds of small choices.
One the best decisions I made in my life was to work only 3 clinical days a week.
I made more money. I had more fun. I was better organized. I did more dentistry on fewer people. I was able to maintain my health and well-being. I never got burnt out on dentistry, in fact I loved practicing dentistry, and I mean it. I loved everything about it!
I found my ‘happy spot’—my ‘sweet spot’.
No one on their death bed has ever been reported to say:
“I wish I had worked more.”
The idea is to enjoy your life as you live it. Not to wait for some perfect time or place—some distant destination, that may never come.
I want to share this true story.
In the early 80’s I developed an investment model. A market-timing model. I met with some really great investment people and interviewed them relative to their investment methods.
I became friends with a investment advisor in Denver. One day he called me and told me this story.
A client of his, an Orthopedic Surgeon, had worked and worked and accumulated quite a bit of wealth. My memory tells me, over 10 million. The surgeon called the investment advisor and told him that he had, at 58 just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Not an unusual story. Work, work, work, and save, and save, and invest and die early.
Could this story be related to the first few paragraphs? A person living out of balance with themselves, creating ‘negative energy’, causing a physical weakness, and susceptibility to disease?
Is it possible? Or is this a stretch too hard to imagine?
Read Hans Selye’s STRESS WITHOUT DISTRESS…cover to cover, several times and then you decide. How you live, how much you work, how you feel about your life, your energy, positive or negative will, does impact your health and well-being.
Get on the Road Less Traveled and Stay on it.