June 23, 2024
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We’ve been on many vacations including touring, adventure. leisure and cruising.  Some have been with friends, others with family or just the two of us.  It’s a time when we can recharge our relationship-batteries.  So far, that’s worked in our marriagefor 51 years.

So, when it comes to planning vacations, you might think that we’ve learned some tricks.  I’m happy to report that this last cruise taught us a new lesson.  The lesson is, don’t do it entirelyon your own.  And don’t entirely rely on the tour operator to guide you.  Get expert advice from someone who is dedicated to you, understands your needs and expectations, and not solely focused on the corporation’s bottom line.

The internet offers so many options.  And in the process of exploring those through ‘search’, one open themselves up to aggressive marketing tactics.  Ever search for something and allthe sudden emails and other communications about that search magically appear?  It’s almost as if someone’s reading our minds.  They’re just following our online activities.  And that presents potential danger when effective marketing impacts decisions.

I’ve outlined in previous blogs some of the issue we had on our latest “ultra-luxury” cruise.  After speaking to other passengers, I realized that few had booked their vacations directly with the cruise line as we had.  Most had an ‘agent’ who worked for themand advised them.  Such an agent served not only as an advisor but also an advocate, someone to speak to and deal with some of the same issues we experienced.

I’m not sure how an agent would have dealt with the issues we had or what satisfaction we would get for the many snafus we experienced.  What I do know is that rather than dealing with a ‘guest relations’ department that I’m still in communications with, I would be dealing with a human being who has my best interests and a mutually beneficial relationship at heart.

It reminds me of the role I played as a dentist.  Whether or not I was delivering the care myself, when someone became my patient, I became their advocate.  I advised and sometimes, orchestrated the care of various other clinicians, such as dental specialists, hygienists and even other healthcare providers.

My patients knew that, as “the Doctor’s Dentist”, I knew hundreds of physicians, psychologists and other healthcare personnel.  My network became a resource for many when they had health and sometimes other issues.  What I lack in my life is such a person to help with my travels.  I’m going to remedy that.

I’ve learned a lesson.  Even as a seasoned traveler, I didn’t know the right questions to ask.  I will never make that mistake again.  Not because this was such an expensive trip (it was), but because at this stage of my life, I want to press the EASY BUTTON and not have to deal with issues and be responsible for workarounds that could be foreseen and possibly prevented.

For instance, as part of the cruise, business-class airfare was included.  The cruise line took care of the arrangements, which included non-stop service on our return from Lisbon to Newark, but on the way there, it included a 4 ½ hour layover in Brussels, on the way to Barcelona, where we were to meet the ship.

Unbeknown to me, there was a way to get a direct flight.  It might have cost a few dollars more, but it was available.  The cruise-line’s agent never mentioned the option and we just assumed that was the ‘deal’.  I’m sure that if we had a personal travel agent, they would have known our preference for direct flights and have at least made us aware of the option.

As your patients’ advocate, aren’t you responsible for letting them know of all the options, even if you can’t provide them?

That’s the difference between a professional and a someone doing a job.  Here are some of those differences.


o Professionals view their work as a career, vocation or higher calling.  They are committed to continuous improvement, uphold ethical standards, and take pride in their work.
o A job holder sees work primarily as a means to earn a paycheck.  They may lack long term commitment or interest beyond its financial benefits.
o Professionals demonstrate high levels of dedication and is willing to go above and beyond their basic job requirements.  They are proactive in solving problems and refining processes.  They take accountability for their actions and outcomes, while striving to consistently improve.
o A job holder often does only what is required, with minimal effort.  Their primary focus is completing tasks to meet basic job expectations without seeking additional responsibilities.
o Professionals take full responsibility for their actions and decisions.  They are accountable for their performance and willing to admit mistakes and learn from them.  They adhere to a code of ethics and professional standards.  They maintain integrity in their dealings and prioritize ethical considerations.
o A job holder’s ethical considerations may take a back seat to convenience or personal gain.  Integrity might be compromised if it conflicts with immediate interests.
o Professionals appreciate the value of follow-up in building trust, ensuring quality, improving efficiency and enhancing relationships.
o A job holder often has a short-term perspective, reacting to problems as they arise, focusing on immediate needs and benefits.  While following established procedures, they may not exercise initiative to seek improvement and long-term remedies.

My mistake was that I was dealing with a job holder and not someone with a professional attitude.  It’s a mistake I will try to avoid in the future.

Take this lesson as an opportunity to evaluate your own team.  Do you have people with professional attitudes or are they job holders?

Towards better patient experiences,


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Dr. Michael Goldberg is one of the leading educators on dental practice management in the United States.

Michael ran and sold a prestigious group practice in Manhattan and has been on Faculty at Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Medical Center for 30 years including Director of the GPR program and Director of the course on Practice Management.

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