Prioritization for Health Center Dental Directors

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Dr. Mark Doherty, Executive Director of D4 Practice Solutions shares his perspective on the importance of prioritization for health center Dental Directors. Contact D4 Practice Solutions today to learn more about our technical assistance and practice management consulting services.


Dr. Mark J. Doherty


April 3, 2019

One of the most difficult challenges that all health center Dental Directors and health centers themselves face is how to prioritize time and energy. Prioritization is especially challenging for new health center (“HC”) Dental Directors or and those transitioning from private practice to a health center. Sadly, dental schools and residency programs do not teach students or residents how to run a dental practice, regardless of whether it is privately owned or part of a larger organization. Many HC Dental Directors and even many private practice owners learn the art of effectively running a practice through experience and most who are successful at it are actually graduates of the School of Hard Knocks.

In order to achieve success, HC Dental Directors must first have a good understanding of what success should, could and would look like for their dental operation. However, the last 15 years of consulting with health centers has shown me that there is no generally accepted standard to define that success. 

HC Dental Directors should start the prioritization process by identifying the areas that contribute to greater patient access, healthier finances, better outcomes and improved quality, each of which is important to provide under federal, state and local governance or rules and regulations.

When I am asked to identify the “Top 10” priorities for running a successful Federally Qualified Health Center dental program, my list includes the following (plus one more for good measure!).