The end of the year is always a good time to to step back and reflect on what we've accomplished and what more we want to do. We can count on the new year bringing increasing costs and regulations, but perhaps also new procedures and products. The question is whether we want to move passively along with these changes or actively make changes ourselves. Like personal new year's resolutions, making resolutions about our practices in advance can help us to navigate the challenges and end the following year more fulfilled. Unfortunately, every resolution can also be a set up to fail if it over-reaches. How do we plan ahead to ensure our own satisfaction, our patients' experiences, and the overall success of the field?
First, take a moment to think about your practice. Make a list on paper or in your mind about what you and your team are doing well and what you aren't. That list should also include what you and your team are doing that makes you personally happy and what doesn't. There may be people or things that worked well in the past but don't anymore. Spend time evaluating your practice focus, staff, software, hardware, physical space, patient care protocols, and marketing methods. Be diagnostic to find your “rate limiting” steps. Can you streamline administrative tasks? Are you able to delegate easily or are you consistenly having to duplicate or check your staff's work? Does your software/hardware help your practice run or slow it down? Are your marketing dollars bringing in the right patients? Does your office layout work for or against you? Is everything in the best place for you and your staff to care for patients and to create a patient friendly environment? Managing the business part of your practice can sometimes feel like running on a treadmill – working very hard but going no where. Making sure that as much as possible runs as it should automatically without your intervention can open time for the you to feel, think and act more calmly and creatively which invariably opens up the creative sides of the brain.
Second, get the creative juices flowing to think about what you would like to accomplish with all that extra thinking time you've freed. Do you want current and potential patients to know you better? Perhaps it's time to update your website, create new brochures, or start a blog. Are there areas of practice—from dispensing cosmeceuticals to certain procedures—that you want to do more of regularly? A combination of staff education and marketing might be the way to jumpstart it. Even if you have a full schedule of patients, does your office make them feel cared for beyond the actual procedures? Simply offering a choice of coffees or snacks while they wait or providing a comfortable blanket during procedures can make the difference between your office being a place they have to come to vrsus a place they want to visit.
Third, are you satisfied with your pace of professional growth? Is this the year you want to get more involved with your specialty society—or step back from those duties to focus on others? Are you getting what you want from the meetings you attend and the journals you read or is it time to get out of your CME routine? Are there procedures you've wanted to incorporate but haven't taken the time to learn? Attending a multidisciplinary meeting, a small specialty seminar, an international congress, or just spending a few days at a colleague's office might expand your aesthetic horizon. Conversely, have you been attending so many meetings and started so many new procedures recently that you've had no time to integrate the new information into the rest of your practice or schedule? It might be time to slow down, rest, and digest.
Finally, what would you like to achieve personally? For many of us, medicine was not a career choice, but a life choice and it has remained that way. When you are outside of the office, is aesthetic medicine the primary topic of conversation? Have you made an effort to develop outside interests? Do you wish you had more time to spend with your family and friends? Of course the saying is true that you spend more time at your job than at home. And many of us thrive on our hectic schedules. We, the editors, certainly do: we both travel extensively to lecture at meetings and have written editorials about how those experiences inspire our aesthetic practices. But we also make an effort to include work-free time during those travels. Visiting new places in the US and abroad and experiencing new cultures is an outside interest that gels with the work travel. Being able to experience it with family and friends enriches those relationships, too.
So as we close the book on 2016 and look ahead to writing a new one for 2017, we invite you to join us in working to formulate even better ways to live our lives as core cosmetic specialtists. As you prepare and then enact your new year's resolutions for your practice, share ideas and experiences—both successful and less so—with your peers and with all of us at Modern Aesthetics®. We welcome letters to the editor and thoughts about topics of interest that have appeared in the journal and those that you would like to see in the future (email us at email@example.com). Because, as Henry Ford said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
Steven Dayan, MD, FACS, and Heidi Waldorf, MD, FAAD