Home Dental Episode #642: The Global Diagnosis Education Symposium Pre-Chat, with Dr. Josh Austin, Dr. Bill Robbins, & Dr. Jim Otten

Episode #642: The Global Diagnosis Education Symposium Pre-Chat, with Dr. Josh Austin, Dr. Bill Robbins, & Dr. Jim Otten

by adminjay

Mentorship is lifelong. No matter what stage of your life or career, you will always need one — and study clubs are the best places to find them. To give you a taste of the people you will find, Kirk Behrendt brings back Dr. Josh Austin, Dr. Bill Robbins, and Dr. Jim Otten to share their experiences being involved with the Global Diagnosis Education Symposium and study club. Join GDE to change your life! To learn more about it and how to get started, listen to Episode 642 of The Best Practices Show!

Episode Resources:

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

Register for Global Diagnosis Education

Main Takeaways:

Your need for mentorship will continue throughout your career.

Seek out mentors. Don’t wait for them to come to you.

Join study clubs like Global Diagnosis Education.

Failure is extremely important to growth.

Always create time for self-care.


“There is a desperate need for dentists and professionals to really be able to organize their thought process in an orderly way and be able to implement in their practice. Many very well-accomplished dentists, some who know far more about the detail of dentistry than we do, have trouble and struggle like we did in our own practices organizing and facilitating. We know they’re looking for a safe space where they can be themselves, they can be authentic, and we can talk about our successes and failures. They look for guidance and community, and that community is Global Diagnosis, helping them to organize the process, but also standing with them and walking through the fire with them.” (6:51—7:39) -Dr. Otten

“We all naturally take the path of least resistance, so bringing something back to your practice is hard. It’s hard to institute it. We think about it in our heads, and we turn it over, and turn it over. But at the end of the day, it’s hard to then execute. And so, if you don’t have that continuing thing, whether it be a study club that’s in person, whether it be a study club online, whether it be a small community of local docs, whatever it is, you’ve got to have that thing that continues to push you to do it. For me, it was our chapter of the Seattle Study Club. That’s really what fueled that, and there’s been no organization that’s more important to my career than that. Not everyone has the ability to do that. Now, we have technology that can bridge that gap. It just has to be a constant thing. It has to be the community around it that’s pushing people to do it because, if not, we just go back to what’s easy.” (8:12— 8:59) -Dr. Austin

“What we found in the feedback from our group is that what they appreciate most is the mentorship, that there’s a consistent contact that helps them overcome all these cultural pieces that push against them. Because if you’re doing interdisciplinary restorative dentistry at a high level of implementation, you’re going to get pushback from a lot of the systems that are in place, and you’ve got to be able to overcome that. As a solo practitioner, I spend a lot of time staring in the mirror going, ‘Well, what the hell do I do now?’ But if I had people like Bill, which I have, and other people along the way that could help me through this and help me solve this problem, that takes you to the next step and takes you out of the default behavior that you’ve created that keeps you from moving to the next level. And failure is extremely important. Try it, fail at it, learn from it, and move on.” (9:04—9:55) -Dr. Otten

“Dental societies want to do these mentorship programs where they assign somebody to somebody. And that never — I mean, it’s an arranged marriage. It rarely works. It has to come organically. That stuff has to come organically, but it has to come from — I like the word protege. I hate the word mentee. It is in the dictionary, but I feel like it was added later to annoy me. It’s protege. The protege has to be the one that seeks it out. But when you use the word preceptorship — preceptorship, to me, is a defined period of time. You get preceptored for a certain period of time until you are competent, and then that relationship ends, and you are then off on your own. That never happens in dentistry. We need a mentor throughout our entire career, no matter what.” (10:30—11:17) -Dr. Austin

“That need [for mentorship] never goes away, no matter what stage your career is in.” (11:32—11:35) -Dr. Austin

“[Mentorship is] a lifelong relationship. It ends when you’re dead.” (11:45—11:47) -Dr. Otten

“We all are familiar with a handful of amazing teaching institutes in the United States, and these teachers are some of the best on earth that are available to us in the United States. But the problem is that the implementation part of it is not managed very well. And so, people go and pay a lot of money and spend a lot of time learning this amazing information from the best teachers on earth. But then they go back, and on Monday morning, they still have got to face the dental assistant that says, ‘I’m pregnant and I’m going to be gone for four months,’ and the denture patients they hate. Implementing the stuff that they learned last week into the practice is so difficult to do. I think that is the gap that Global Diagnosis Education crosses over, and we become the implementation arm because we’re familiar with what these institutes teach. We’ve been to most of them and taught in some of them. And so, we feel like we are the bridge for these people of implementing what they learned in these amazing centers into their practices.” (11:51—12:59) -Dr. Robbins

“I think you organically find a mentor when you’re not looking for them. It’s sort of like when you’re looking for a girlfriend or a spouse — the more you try, the worse it gets. Trust me. Several tries at it, and it didn’t work. But if you put yourself in these circumstances around people that have common values that you can trust and that are authentic, then the relationship emerges. And it’s got to be a relationship that is genuine and values-based. That’s how it lasts a lifetime.” (15:28—16:03) -Dr. Otten

“You can’t progress unless you start doing cases that you’re uncomfortable with. You need to get uncomfortable. But when you don’t have the safety net of a community, you’re tight-roping without a net underneath you. And that’s what the community of GDE does. It gives people a safety net. They have a place every month that they can get together and say, ‘Hey, am I seeing this right? What am I not seeing? Am I on the right track?’ and having that support group that does that. It’s an incredibly daunting thing to start that track without that help, without that feeling of support behind you. That’s, I think, what a community like this does, and that’s where we see the change. It starts there. And what starts small gets bigger and changes everything for people because — you never know. That one seed that you plant in one of the attendees here today turns into the next seed down the road for the next younger dentist, and the next seed down the road. And like you said, it just keeps going.” (17:13—18:06) -Dr. Austin

“Over the years, dentistry is a tough profession, not only on us physically, not only on us from a mental challenge standpoint, but from a mental health standpoint as well. It’s one of the few professions — I don’t know. If you’re an accountant, do you really see failures? Maybe you miss a date on a file. I don’t know. The accountants are going to send all kinds of crazy replies to us about us talking bad about it. But you don’t see failures the way that we see failures. I think we’re all trained that when there’s a failure, we did something wrong. We wear that with us, and that weighs on us when we go home. And so, I started noticing what used to be an overall cheerful disposition had deteriorated over those 15 years.” (20:36—21:20) -Dr. Austin

“I’ve seen lectures from psychiatrists and psychologists, and it’s fine. But they don’t understand what our days are like. And so, I think the message [of my lecture] was, ‘Hey, this is coming from me as a dentist. This is just my journey. You may identify with all of this. You may identify with none of this. But this is the journey I’ve been on.’ And if you can pull some slices out of that that could be helpful for you going forward — I think, at the end of the day, the biggest problem is that dentists, in general, have really poor coping mechanisms. A lot of problems in dental lives come from that. Stress triggers these coping mechanisms that aren’t healthy: alcohol, drug abuse, sex addiction, gambling — all these things that lead into other issues that permeate our lives. And it’s because we’re never taught very well how to cope, starting from our days in dental school, and then on from there.” (21:57—22:42) -Dr. Austin

“It used to just be, ‘What’s the guy down the street doing?’ Now, with the internet and Instagram, I can compare my stuff with Dr. Michael Apa, who’s prepping veneers on Jennifer Aniston at $5,000 a unit, and I’m looking at my case that I just did and thinking that I’m not good enough. Meanwhile, he’s got a ceramicist looking over his shoulder while he’s prepping. And like, of course I’m not going to be able to do that. And the other thing is, the problem with Instagram is that no one ever shows their failures. We don’t learn anything from the things that go perfectly. But if you look at everyone’s Instagram, everything we touch is the Midas touch. Everything is gorgeous.” (22:53—23:32) -Dr. Austin

“What you’re talking about is what I heard Liv Boeree talk about the other day. She said it was a Moloch Trap. A Moloch Trap is something that causes us to leave our values to keep up with something else or in honor of something that’s not real. For example, on Instagram, people all of a sudden now are modifying photographs. They’re showing their best stuff, creating this culture. Whereas if they left the stuff alone, it would be a much more valuable learning lesson than if you’re creating these things trying to outdo one another. So, you’re sacrificing values, authenticity, honesty, and integrity to look good. And so, everybody starts to feel like they should look good. I think one of the examples she talks about in the Moloch Trap is when people go to a concert, and everybody is sitting down. And then, all of a sudden, the people in the front start standing up. Well, then everybody else has to stand up, and nobody can sit down. And no one has a better view now because they’re standing up, and probably worse. But you can’t get them to sit down. So, you’re all trapped into this system. It’s really an interesting concept, and I think that we are so affected by that in many ways.” (26:08—27:20) -Dr. Otten

“One of the things that sets gentlemen [like Frank Spear and John Kois] apart is that they always showcased what went wrong. That’s where their principles come from. It’s not just a slide show of beautiful case after beautiful case — it’s what went wrong. I think that’s why they are where they are, is because they’re the ones that are willing to show, ‘I tried this. It didn’t work. This is what we learned. Now, this is what we do.’” (27:39—28:03) -Dr. Austin

“Let’s be open, let’s be authentic, and let’s be our real selves.” (29:41—29:46) -Dr. Austin


0:00 Introduction.

1:33 Dr. Austin, Dr. Robbins, and Dr. Otten’s backgrounds.

4:31 About Global Diagnosis Education.

7:40 Why study clubs and mentorships are important.

13:00 Highlights from their careers.

18:27 Topics at GDE.

29:26 Last thoughts.

Dr. Joshua Austin Bio:

Dr. Joshua Austin, DDS, MAGD, FACD, is a native San Antonian. After attending San Antonio’s Health Careers High School and the University of Texas at San Antonio as an undergrad student, Dr. Austin graduated from the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio Dental School

Dr. Austin is a member of the prestigious Seattle Study Club, which is a network of professional dental study groups dedicated to ideal comprehensive dental care. Dr. Austin’s other professional memberships include the Academy of General Dentistry, the Texas Dental Association, American Dental Association, and the Rotary Club of San Antonio

Dr. Austin is a published author and lectures nationally on restorative dentistry and reputation management. He has a monthly column and weekly e-newsletter in Dental Economics, the most-read dental magazine in the world. 

In the past, Dr. Austin has served as a faculty member in the Department of Restorative Dentistry at UTHSCSA Dental School. Dr. Austin has received several awards during his dental career. In 2009, the Texas Dental Association honored Dr. Austin by naming him Young Dentist of the Year. In 2010, the Texas Academy of General Dentistry named him New Dentist of the Year, the most prestigious award it gives for dentists who have graduated in the previous seven years. Dr. Austin has earned a Fellowship and Mastership in the Academy of General Dentistry. In 2014, Dr. Austin was awarded with a Fellowship in the American College of Dentists for his outstanding commitment to ethics in patient care. 

Dr. Bill Robbins Bio:

Dr. J. William Robbins, D.D.S., M.A., practices part-time and is an Adjunct Clinical Professor in the Department of Comprehensive Dentistry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School. He graduated from the University of Tennessee Dental School in 1973. He completed a rotating internship at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Leavenworth, Kansas, and a two-year General Practice Residency at the VA Hospital in San Diego, California. 

Dr. Robbins has published over 80 articles, abstracts, and chapters on a wide range of dental subjects and has lectured in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He co-authored a textbook, Fundamentals of Operative Dentistry – A Contemporary Approach, which is published by Quintessence, and is in its 4th edition. He recently co-authored a new textbook, Global Diagnosis – A New Vision of Dental Diagnosis and Treatment Planning, which is also published by Quintessence. 

Dr. Robbins has won several awards, including the Presidential Teaching Award at the University of Texas Health Science Center, the 2002 Texas Dentist of the Year Award, the 2003 Honorary Thaddeus V. Weclew Fellowship Award from the Academy of General Dentistry, the 2010 Saul Schluger Award given by the Seattle Study Club, the Southwest Academy of Restorative Dentistry 2015 President’s Award, and the 2016 Academy of Operative Dentistry Award of Excellence. He is a diplomate of the American Board of General Dentistry. He is past president of the American Board of General Dentistry, the Academy of Operative Dentistry, the Southwest Academy of Restorative Dentistry, and the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry. 

Dr. Jim Otten Bio: 

Dr. James F. Otten is a 1981 graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry. He completed a one-year residency in hospital dentistry with emphasis on advanced restoration of teeth and oral surgery at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Leavenworth, Kansas. He taught crown-and-bridge dentistry as an Associate Professor at UMKC before entering private practice in 1982, where he served as Chief of Staff of a large group practice in Fayetteville, Arkansas, before opening his practice in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1984. 

Dr. Otten has pursued rigorous post-graduate education since 1986, accumulating thousands of hours in advanced continuing education that he has intentionally applied to his practice in order to develop its personalized care philosophy. He has completed the rigorous curriculum at two prestigious institutions, The Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education, and the Dawson Center for Advanced Dental Education. He lectures nationally and internationally and has recently been asked to join the faculty at the Newport Coast Orofacial Institute in Newport Beach, California. 

Dr. Otten has been named a Fellow of The American College of Dentists and is an active member of The American Academy of Restorative Dentistry. In pursuit of excellence, Dr. Otten has gained a considerable reputation, both regionally and nationally, for his expertise in disorders of the jaw joints, as well as crown-and-bridge dentistry, implant restorations, complex bite problems, removable and partial dentures, and naturally beautiful esthetic dentistry.

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