Congratulations, Dr. Mcleod. I understand you are the first recipient of the West Hollywood Doctors’ Choice Awards in Dentistry 2014! How does that feel?
Well I was surprised and highly complimented to receive that particular award particularly as my colleagues have voted for me to have that position I consider it a great honor thank you. I hope I live up to it, the award and prove deserving of it.
It’s a great achievement! How long have you been established in your practice?
I opened up my practice in 1976. I took over Dr. Glazier who ran the practice since 1929. It’s one of the oldest practices in Los Angeles and I’m the third dentist running the practice.
We know it takes a lot of synergy and teamwork to make a successful practice, so we are wondering, what kind of culture have you created in your practice?
First of all I have a wonderful team of supportive style and secondly I have chosen a group of eight other doctors with whom I meet every Tuesday for lunch, my colleagues we’re specialists from various areas and we just sit down to lunch and discuss anything that comes along. Whether it’s the increase in rent or new dental technique, we meet and talk with each other every week. That is an enriching experience and we share new ideas and challenges along together and reinforce each other’s intentions as we do that it’s really been helpful.
You have received great reviews from leaders in the medical industry, how did you first get involved with Doctors’ Choice Awards?
I was solicited by doctors’ choice, an email was sent to me and I thought this is one more way of increasing my cyber presence. In order to be successful in dentistry today it’s not just about how many patients you treat, it’s about how many citations you have in cyberspace. Cyber buoyancy the number of positive citations you have on the web is critically necessary for any successful practice today. When the crawl engines search for a keyword that has been entered they’re going to look for the most appropriate answer on the web and if you don’t have a lot of citations, your web presence won’t be buoyant enough to lift your name to be selected by the crawlers. It’s an automatic machine it’s an algorithm and I looked at the invitation from your organization and saw this was another way of creating a positive image for myself and my practice in Hollywood and we’re trying to do the best we can for our patients all the time and getting the word out its most important you are offering me that chance, I took it.
How did you get into the field of dentistry?
I was studying science in University of Oxford and my study partner had a brother-in-law who is a dentist his name was Walter Pik and he had a nice home and a pretty wife and a Jaguar xj6 in the driveway and time off in the evenings he would come home. My father was a soldier he never came home. Here was Dr. Pik coming home every evening and he had a color TV and nice deli sandwiches which he offered us. Maybe being a dentist is a good thing, maybe I should ask him about dentistry and I went down and saw his office. He said “Neil, if you want to be a dentist you should go to Guy’s Hospital” and I applied to Guy’s and I got in and that was the start. I didn’t know that I wanted to be a dentist but atleast I was accepted and was very blessed to be able to get into the hospital to study.
Was there a specific moment when you knew that you wanted to be a dentist?
I went to interview at Guy’s and at the end of the interview they asked me , “Mcloed, Do you have any questions you want to ask us?” . I thought for a minute said “Yes sir, What grades would you ask me for to get into Guy’s”, and a wry smile crept across this gentleman space. I didn’t know it was the Dean that I was speaking to and he looked at his partners on either side and he looked back at me and he said we’ll ask you for three ‘Ds’. Well three Ds was not difficult to achieve and I walked out of that interview knowing that I was going to go to dental school and that changed my life forever.
What advice would you give aspiring physicians regarding education and starting their own practice?
First of all never stop learning their continuing education programs which one needs to be taking to update your knowledge. We forget what we know, it needs to be refreshed. There are new techniques which are coming out with which doctors need to familiarize themselves. One never stops learning until one stopped practice, that’s the first advice. The next advice I would give is to make sure that you have an association with other colleagues that you respect and admire who can advise you as we do with our regular tuesday luncheons that is so important. I also think it’s important to have an alliance with either an academy or a dental school where you can have a chance of instructing others. You know the word doctor means ‘teacher’ in Latin and our job primarily is to teach our patients ‘what their treatment options are’ so that they can make an informed decision about how they allow us to treat them and that ability to communicate clearly has to be homed and refined. You develop them by talking to other people and by instructing them and I think that’s really important. And of course the third point about setting up practice is ‘location’. You need to choose to practice in a good place, I’m practicing in a city where there are many more dentists in the population needs and we are crammed into small areas so the competition is very steep. The building where I practice there are 53 other dentists, that is remarkable so while practicing in dental Mecca. It’s still a good location and I’m very fortunate to be able to practice on Sunset Boulevard at the edge of Beverly Hills.
Tell us about a role model you have in dentistry.
I have a number of mentors, My three perhaps the greatest mentors were Dr. Harold preschool in London whose house surgeon when I was at Guy’s Hospital, he recommended I go to America to study and Professor Bernard Levin at USC the University of Southern California, then he took me under his wing and he helped me with my research articles, encouraged me to get them published. He really was the person who is responsible for getting me into the specific course that is prosthodontics and making me keen about wanting to pursue additional training and then of course was Peter Kaye Thomas who was a private practitioner and teacher in Beverly Hills who is world-renowned for doing extremely fine quality work and he inspired me and was a mentor. So those three men really are my mentors and my guides. I always feel blessed to have had them teaching me there was one other person who indirectly has always been schooling me and that is Dr. Glazier, the man from whom I took the practice over in 1976. I still treats his patients and I see the work that he put in their mouths as old as long ago as 1953. Work which looks as good today as it was the day he put it in then and it is he standing over my shoulder watching over me what I see his work because I always ask myself is the work that I am putting in my patient’s mouth today as good as Dr. Glazier’s as it was in 1950.
Tell us about a time when you had to face a challenge as a leader.
Well one of the greatest challenges when people start to look to you for advice as you become more seasoned member of the profession that happens a lot. The greatest challenges that I think can occur in practice are lack of income. Wanting to stick to your quality of your work and not compromising it and finding out that patients have a hard time paying the high fee or that practice is just slow because the economy is depressed and under those circumstances financial pressures occur because you have to meet your rent, your insurance, pay for your staff, your taxes. Those pressures can do more to destroy your enthusiasm and love for the work than anything else and there have been a number of times. In the recent past when I have been threatened when there has been a decline in the financial environment and those I think of the worst pressures that a doctor can endure in practice.