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Review of ‘Brush’, James Goolnik – A Guide For Dentists

‘Brush’, written by James Goolnik and published by Bow Lane Limited, is a guide to doing dentistry better.

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Given that Goolnik is a past president of the  British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, founder of a respected chain of dental clinics, and a member of the British Dental Bleaching Society board, we thought we should take a closer look – and see what nuggets of wisdom we could share with you.

Goolnik tackles two worthy scenarios in this book. He waxes lyrical on some of the issues around setting up a clinic, and he also dips into some smart tactics for growing a clinic in a highly competitive market.

In a Hurry?

Those with limited time on their hands for reading and those more interested in skimming rather than reading this book will welcome the ‘Brush strokes’ at the end of each chapter. These are the main points or takeaways of that chapter summarised into a neat, bullet-pointed list.

An Holistic Approach

Rather than being solely an exercise in increasing profit margins and beating your competition, Goolnik also explores how best to psychologically prepare oneself for the challenges of setting up a business and how to cope with the stress of handling a dental business once it has been established. He does tackle the stresses inherent in the dental profession.  So a dual holistic and business approach to the job of dentistry.

The book includes some intriguing paragraphs that discuss mind mapping exercises, Goolnik’s preferred type of yoga and the importance of hobbies. These are interspersed with many paragraphs that

offer solid business advice. While there is definitely a growing audience for this more ‘rounded’ approach to dentistry, if you are looking for a book that focuses solely on profits and expansion you should step away now!

The perils of Doing Too Much

It is clear from the outset that Goolnik has a great passion for what he does, and he writes with an admirable enthusiasm for dentistry. He helps the reader get into the mind of the patient to understand better what they might want and expect.  He makes several suggestions to improving productivity and profit that growing clinics would do well to incorporate.  And he shares mistakes so that others might avoid them.  However, the book seems to be so full of ideas and advice from the author, it may well be that he neglected to lay this information out in a truly coherent fashion. Perhaps separating out the holistic advice might have been preferable to discussing yoga in one paragraph, then talking about how to deal with one’s bank manager in the next. This approach makes for a pleasant and varied read – but might irritate business minded readers who want to cut to the chase.

In addition, Chapters 1 and 2 are not ideal for dentists already operating their own established businesses. These chapters deal almost exclusively with the factors to be observed when considering setting up your own business, and the personality/frame of mind required to successfully carry out same.  It may well be that ‘Brush’ is in fact, a hybrid of two solid book ideas one – a book for setting up one’s own practice, and a book for established operations looking for that added commercial edge.

A Confused Approach?

There is perhaps some cognitive dissonance in reading advice geared to the new business owner followed by questions aimed at older businesses. One of the useful topics tackled in the book is that of ‘problem patients’.  How to recognise, tackle and ‘clear out’ this type of customer. Obviously this isn’t relevant at all to the new business owner, though perhaps it might be more useful to recognise the possible signs or a problem patient?  Again, this is just a teensy bit conflicted. Again, a result of the author attempting to deal with multiple audiences simultaneously.

What did we like about the book?

  • Bullet pointed nuggets of advice that summarise each chapter
  • Covers the psychological as well as business considerations of running one’s own practice
  • Varied, interesting and author clearly passionate about his work
  • Authoritative, expert led advice and solid business practice advice

And  a few things we didn’t…

  • Not ideal for the pure business reader
  • Perhaps trying to provide advice for too many audiences in one book
  • Might have benefited from a clearer structure or flow to the content.

One thing we loved about Brush was that 100% of the profits go to a  global charity which is listed as promoting oral health programmes in 60 countries. So here’s a varied, rounded approach to the business of dentistry that’s got good advice and and a great motive. Kudos to Goolnik for that.

 While it won’t please everyone all of the time, both new and established dentists will find useful information and some new ideas in this book, so we say well worth a peek.

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