The Instinct-Driven Dentist: Interview with Dr. Barry Lyon


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Whether you’re a new dental school graduate seeking your first job as a dentist, or you’re an established dentist looking to grow your practice by hiring new doctors, the job interview—from either side of the desk—is a critical step in the process.

There’s plenty of information available on what specific questions to focus on or avoid during the interview, but it’s essential to not lose sight of the big picture. While it’s important to touch on the details of the interview, it’s equally important to retain a high-level view of the situation and trust your core instincts.

Few dentists understand this better than Dr. Barry Lyon. Dr. Lyon is currently the Vice President of Clinical Quality and owner of Dental Defense in Baltimore. He spent seven years as a Dental Director at Dental Care Alliance and eight years on the Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners state dental board of Maryland, where he served one term as President and two terms as Secretary-Treasurer. On top of that, he has taught part-time for nine years in the Post-Graduate Pediatric Dental Clinic at the University of Maryland.

“I have a lot of experience working with dentists and especially hiring dentists right out of school,” reflects Dr. Lyon. “I’ve done a lot of recruiting and hiring and contract negotiations for general dentists, pediatric dentists, periodontists, endodontists, prosthodontists, virtually all the dental specialties.”

Dr. Lyon has spent plenty of time in job interview and personnel assessment situations. His experience has taught him to look at the entire person, not just the résumé.

“One of the things I look for when I interview a doctor is their presence and my impression of their ethical standing,” says Dr. Lyon. “In my opinion, no matter how well trained or experienced a doctor is, if I don’t feel they’re going to be practicing ethically I don’t think they bring any value to the practice. If I have any question about their ethics, I simply do not hire them.”

“But once they pass that benchmark, I try to assess how much they enjoy being a dentist. There are doctors who do it because they have to but don’t really enjoy doing it. I not only look at their clinical skills and experiences, but also their personality, behavior, passion for dentistry and how they present themselves. The big picture. The whole package.”

And he’s been around long enough to know a red flag when he sees one.

“The big red flag I’ve experienced,” he recalls, “is when a doctor assures me how productive he or she can be for the practice. Whenever someone tells me they’d be able to out-produce the other doctors in the office it’s a red flag because dentistry is not all about being productive.”

“Practicing dentistry is about treating the patients well and providing for them according to their needs. And if you do that, you will be productive. One tends to follow the other. But if you put productivity first, to me that’s a sign that that doctor doesn’t have the right goals to be an effective and ethical practitioner.”

“Quite honestly, those are the doctors who typically don’t succeed in the long run.”