Community is defined as a group of people that share something in common. I never realized how important community can be until we lost it, if only for a short time.
Dr. McDonald, my partner in Line of Sight Coaching, and I were visiting a few weeks back about what was needed most by our healthcare colleagues during this time of crisis. The impact of the COVID- 19 crisis was just being acknowledged as our local, state, and national meetings were being cancelled and clinical practice was coming to a standstill. Offices were closing and staff was being sent home to await their uncertain fate.
We talked about the need for reassurance, stability, reliable information, etc., etc. Then in the midst of our discussion, we had an “Aha!” moment; a moment of great clarity. It seemed so obvious that what all of us needed at that moment was “Community”.
Community binds us, it informs us, and in a time of crisis, community calms us.
Community is defined as a group of people that share something in common. I never realized how important community can be until we lost it, if only for a short time. What Dr. Mac and I noticed is that, during this moment of chaos, our colleagues were experiencing a great sense of confusion and an overwhelming degree of stress. What people needed most, and what was taken away were their usual resources for communication with a larger body of like-minded people who share something in common, their community.
It didn’t take long until the process of recreating community began. Line of sight Coaching along with Phase II Dental Transitions, like many other members of the healthcare community held an informational webinar to provide our colleagues with the most current information available. We discussed issues like unemployment for teams, loan sources for healthcare practices, best practices in sterilization techniques, etc. Participants were thankful for the valuable information, and there is no question that they learned a lot from the webinar.
There was a shared hope that only comes from community.
My thoughts took me to another place, however. I couldn’t help but wonder about the unrecognized benefit of a simple webinar. To me, there seemed to be calmness that came with being on the webinar that was a direct result of regaining community. We acknowledged that we are all in this together and together we can emerge from this unprecedented crisis. We talked about how our lives and practices would never be the same post-crisis, and we talked about the very real possibility that, given the right mindset, we could emerge from this even better than before.
I asked myself about the solo practitioner who never participates in community or fails to see the value of community. Who did they turn to when the period of chaos and uncertainty was at its peak? Did they come back to their best resource for guidance and hope? Did they come back to their community? I can only hope so.
If we ask psychologists, they will tell us that the surest cure for stress and anxiety is outreach.
As we become more “other-focused” we begin to forget about our own problems as we serve others.
Community is all about outreach. We serve each other because we truly are in this together. There is a very real sense commonality.
Dr. Mac shared a story about the value of outreach. One day recently he could tell that his staff was overwhelmed emotionally with fear of an unknown future. Their job for that day was to reach out to patients of record to check on them. According to Dr. Mac, with each phone conversation, there was a noticeable improvement of his staff’s attitude as they spoke with their patients who were all extremely grateful for the outreach. It seemed as if there was a collective release of tension as the staff became more “other-focused”.
This brought me to another question. What happens when this is all over, and the COVID-19 pandemic is nothing but a memory?
Will we return to our old and familiar ways?
Will the doctor down the street with whom we worked with as part of our unified community be viewed the same?
Will he/she now be considered our colleague, or will they return to competitor status?
Will those of us who benefited most from community during this difficult time forget the lesson learned?
What a shame that would be.
If there is anything positive to have come out of this crisis, it would be that we are seeing and hopefully believing in the value of community.
After all of this is said and done, will we ever view community the same? Let’s hope we see a new difference as this “new community” could have positive everlasting effects on our clients and our practices.
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Dr. Joel Small and Dr. Edwin McDonald, the founders of Line of Sight Coaching, are dental practitioners, authors, speakers and Business Leadership Coaches who work with healthcare professionals to help them build more successful practices so they can live the balanced life they seek.