…a conversation with Dr. Robert Weinstein, Associate with dentalcorp
Today we shine the spotlight on Dr. Robert Weinstein, who shares with us his thoughts on the importance of trust and honesty in the doctor/patient relationship. Dr. Weinstein currently practices at Tweed Dental Care in Ontario.
Tell me a bit about your background and how you got into dentistry?
I was born and raised in Toronto, and my dad practiced dentistry right out of our home. I grew up immersed in that world. Every day he would tell us stories about his experiences, and I also got to know the patients. From the age of 10 or 11, I knew I would be following in his footsteps. I went to the University of Toronto and Harvard School of Dental Medicine. I did my residency in general dentistry at the University of Connecticut. I joined Tweed Dental Care in 2002 and have been there ever since.
What was it like adjusting from a Toronto upbringing to life in a small town like Tweed?
Tweed is a super small town, so it is very different. Everyone knows everyone and a large part of being a dentist here is becoming part of the community and developing relationships with your patients. It’s quiet but it’s great for anyone who enjoys hiking, paddling, fishing, and local events.
So, what sort of things do you do as part of the community?
As a practice, we do things like sponsor local hockey and soccer teams, donate to local charities and fundraisers and we also sponsor a local boy with dreams of becoming a racecar driver – he races go karts locally at Brighton Speedway and it’s always a good time to go out and cheer him on.
What kinds of changes have you seen since you got your start in dentistry?
I’ve always been committed to ongoing professional development. Tweed Dental Care partnered with dentalcorp in 2016, which has provided me with the opportunity to take a number of different courses aimed at Associates through their learning arm, DC Institute. Invisalign, iTero, endo, oral surgery – there are a lot of opportunities for continued development offered through dentalcorp so I participate in as many of those as I can.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love music, and pre-pandemic, I really enjoyed going to concerts, especially classic rock from the 60s and 70s. I also have a huge collection of comic book/action figure statues in my basement.
What do you find most rewarding about practicing dentistry?
I would have to say it’s the level of trust that goes hand in hand with a good doctor/patient relationship. A person comes to you for help with the one set of teeth that they’re going to have for life. As their dentist, you’re entrusted with performing procedures that are often irreversible, so it’s a huge responsibility. But it’s also an opportunity to build a solid relationship based on trust, so your patients know that you’re acting in their best interests and as a real partner in their health.
How has the pandemic impacted you and the practice?
I think a lot of people would be surprised at how much infection control goes into dental practices in the first place, i.e pre-COVID-19. But the additional measures are ensuring everyone – patients and team members – are feeling at ease with our operations. We were one of the practices that remained open during the lockdown, offering emergency care to patients whose regular practices were closed. They were coming in from as far as an hour away, and it was rewarding to be able to help these people get the care they needed.
What does excellence in patient care mean to you?
It means putting the patient’s needs first and being honest with people. It means being ethical and providing patients with services and care that are in their best interests. Honesty is so important when people are entrusting their health to your education, experience, and integrity as a professional.
What advice do you have for emerging dentists?
It’s not about how good you are – it’s more about how you deal with people. You could be the best clinician in the world, but if you can’t calm the person down, appease their fears – because there are a lot of people who really resist going to the dentist – you’re not going to be successful. You really need to work on building a rapport and finding a connection with your patients. Sometimes you need to joke around, sometimes it’s about establishing common interests, or remembering bits of information about their families. The ability to interact in a human way, listening and talking together, is an art that needs to be practiced in this age where people are texting and opting for self-service rather than engaging with others.