Soulmate & Teammate: Affordable Option or Expensive Proposition?

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Some couples readily admit they would not choose to work with their spouse for many reasons. Yet in dentistry, couples frequently run the practice together. In those situations in which the couples work well together, a few key characteristics tend to emerge. First and foremost, they genuinely respect and appreciate each other. They enjoy spending a lot of time together. They can handle dealing with the practice headaches, joys, and frustrations day-in and day-out. A good sense of humor is helpful and a great deal of patience is a must. But, above all else, in those practices in which doctor and spouse work effectively together, practice systems are clearly defined, as are employee responsibilities and duties.


Clearly defining the role of the dental spouse is one of the most critical elements to building a positive and effective team environment. Dental teams must clearly understand who has the authority in the practice. There are certain things that the staff will go to the spouse for and other things they will go to the doctor for, but both doctor and spouse need to be singing from the same page. Staff can’t go to one partner and get one answer and go to the other and get another answer. Moreover, doctor and spouse can never argue about protocol or policy in front of the team. If the two don’t agree, those differences need to be ironed out away from the staff.


If staff perceive that the spouse and not the dentist is the final authority, it creates confusion among the team, particularly if it is clear the doctor and the spouse are not in agreement on practice policies and procedures. Bottom-line: There can only be one person who runs the office – the dentist.

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