OBJECTIVES : How do dentists perceive the influence of
the external environment on, and what is their confidence
in, planning the strategic management of their practices?
METHODS : A cross-sectional survey using an anonymous
online questionnaire was conducted among private
dental practitioners, members of the South African Dental
Association. Stata release 11 was used for descriptive
data analysis, including determination of frequencies.
RESULTS : The majority of the respondents work 40-44 hours,
see more than 70 patients per week and are fairly satisfied
with those numbers. Only 27.56% of practices confirmed
written vision/mission statements. One third (33.78%) were
only moderately confident they could plan and execute
strategies to ensure a viable practice. Almost a tenth (8.11%)
does not feel confident at all. Medical schemes, disposable
income of patients and dentist-patient communication
were the most significant challenges. Clinical practice was
more satisfying than the business side.
CONCLUSION : Dental practices are increasingly complex,
with a myriad of challenges. Ideally the dentist as owner/
manager/leader, should be able to strategise management
of the external and internal environments to achieve
the vision, mission and objectives of the practice. Dental
schools, in collaboration with SADA, should work towards
equipping dentists with the necessary management and
strategic thinking skills to ensure success.