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Authenticity in the Dental Practice

In Conversation with Dr. Philip Stehling

  • Authenticity within a dental practice

  • Family, friends, and freedom are essential

  • Identifying when you’re not being authentic

  • Authenticity towards patients

  • Finding allocators for a referral-only practice

          

Dr. Philip Stehling

Owner of a Dental Practice for Implantology and Oral Surgery in Neumünster


Brachenfelder Str. 45, 24534 Neumünster, Germany

In Conversation with Dr. Philip Stehling

 
 

In our society, the image and perception of a dentist is fairly fixed. The idea of a dentist is usually linked to wealth, social status, and other such markers. However, Dr. Philip Stehling works to actively challenge that perception and offer a more authentic, grounded image, one that’s more accessible to patients. He leads his dental clinic on the pillars of family, friends, and freedom and brings those values into his day-to-day workings.

Our team at Zircon Medical recently hosted Dr. Philip Stehling, the owner of dental practice for implantology and oral surgery in Neumünster, on our podcast series to discuss the value of authenticity in a dental practice.

Introducing Dr. Philip Stehling, the owner of dental practice for implantology and oral surgery in Neumünster

Dr. Philip Stehling is the founder and oral surgeon of dental practice for implantology and oral surgery located in the old Holsten brewery in Neumünster, Germany. He graduated from dental school at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel in 2011, following which he specialized in oral surgery and eventually established his own dental practice. He says he set up his dental practice within the Holsten brewery because he liked the industrial aesthetics, and the slightly laid-back vibe was a better match for his personality.

When asked about when he wanted to become a dentist, Dr. Stehling says that he had a fairly tumultuous or “rock-n-roll” early education. After completing his seventh grade in the southeast of Hamburg, he was eventually kicked out of high school. He eventually graduated from secondary school, did an apprenticeship as an interior decorator, and then returned to school to receive his high school diploma. At this point, he realized that medicine appealed to him, especially fields that involved manual skills, and dentistry seemed like the perfect fit.

Authenticity within a dental practice

Dr. Stehling says that society forces individuals to conform to certain roles. Dentists are generally perceived as “big shots” who drive Porsches, but that’s not how Dr. Stehling sees himself. He says he’s not attracted to typical dental clinics that seem clean and sterile. That’s what compelled him to tailor the experience according to his personality, and he says he was lucky enough to find the right people to support him on his path, such as his mentor Bernd Wagner, who accepted him into a program called "fit for leadership.”

Dr. Stehling says a part of the program was to become aware of your internal values and philosophies. He wants to embody a “positive idea of freedom” that allows him to assert autonomy within his trade, persona, and personality. Instead of conforming to societal expectations from dentists, he wants to create a new mold in his image, one that more accurately aligns with his self-image. He says that it’s only after going through the program that he realized he always lived by its principles.

Family, friends, and freedom are essential

When asked about his values, Dr. Stehling confidently said, without skipping a beat, “family, friends, freedom, and fairness.” While his values may change slightly from one moment to another, he says family is the most important value for him. However, family to him doesn’t just mean biological family. He uses the term to describe his interpersonal relationships with clients and employees. It means everyone should talk openly about their concerns and goals without fear of backlash or censure.

Dr. Stehling says he also maintains close contact with all of his referrers, especially because his business and financial freedom are linked to their success. He also expresses gratitude that his wife supports him in his endeavors, and he says he speaks to his allocators just as he would to his family. These factors allow him to communicate more openly with everyone according to their values.

Identifying when you’re not being authentic

Dr. Stehling says it’s important to keep checking in to ensure they remain authentic. When it comes to his employees, he ensures they’re always aware of the goals and rationale behind their actions. He says a lack of authenticity may occur when there’s “sand in the gears” or when his employees fall back onto old patterns of behavior, especially since most dentists don’t give enough autonomy to their dental assistants.

Dr. Stehling always reminds his employees that they’re valued members of his team and that they shoulder immense responsibilities. He says he doesn’t like dictating everything they should do — he prefers empowering them to make individual decisions. “They should design their job here,” he says, “the way their ideal job looks like,” He says they’re all driving on the freeway, but his employees have the liberty to change lanes if they choose — he merely provides the crash barrier for safety.

Dr. Stehling says most of his patients assume responsibilities fairly quickly, whereas others need some more time. Citing the example of his reception staff, he says that they understand that they can also handle management tasks. Besides empowering them to make their own decisions, Dr. Stehling also believes it’s important to acknowledge mistakes when they occur. This gives everyone the space necessary to experiment and learn. When his employees introduce themselves at parties, he wants them to be proud of their jobs.

Authenticity towards patients

Dr. Stehling says dentists must also showcase authenticity towards patients — not just the employees. He believes dentists must communicate openly and casually with their patients. He admits that he often slips up and speaks in technical jargon, but his assistants are around to clarify the statement. If there’s a failure of treatment, he says patients should be informed instantly, allowing everyone to find the right solution collectively. He says dentists should say sorry immediately instead of beating around the bush.

Finding allocators for a referral-only practice

Dr. Stehling says he runs a referral-only practice, which means 80% of his patients are referred from other dentists, and only 20% come independently. When he first started his dental practice, Dr. Stehling says he went cold-calling to other dental surgeons and implantologists to determine if they needed his services. Over time, he has developed an impressive roster of partner dental clinics that regularly refer patients to him, and he currently also receives patients supra-regionally.

When asked what advice he would give his younger self, Dr. Stehling says he would want to listen to his gut instincts. Quoting The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, he says, “You see well only with your heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” He says his early career could have benefited greatly from this lesson, and it’s one that continues to humble him.

Dr. Philip Stehling can be found at his dental practice for implantology and oral surgeryin the old Holsten brewery in Neumünster. You can also find him through Instagram — he maintains two accounts, one for other dental professionals (@team_stehling_implants) and the other for patients (@team_stehling). You can also listen to him on our Zircon Medical podcast.


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