About Dr. Schuster
After graduating from Marquette Dental School, Doctor Schuster served in the Navy and taught at Temple Dental School. He later practiced and taught at the Iowa Dental School, where he also attended graduate school in periodontics. In 1978, he moved to Scottsdale where today he still maintains a private practice dedicated to individualized, planned restorative and cosmetic dentistry.
In addition to being the founder and CEO of The Schuster Center for Professional Development, he has been on the faculty at Temple Dental School, Iowa Dental School, L.D. Pankey Institute, The Dawson Center of Advanced Dental Studies, L.S.U. Post-Graduate School of Esthetic Dentistry and Bio-Esthetics International.
Dr. Michael Schuster founded The Schuster Center for Professional Development in 1978. The Schuster Center provides a different management model for creating a dental practice that is both fulfilling and profitable. The result is not only a pivotal change in the quality of care delivered, but also a profound change in the quality of life of the dentist, family, team and patients. The story of its beginning is unique and is best told by Dr. Schuster himself here.
How It Began
In 1970, I became physically sick from emotional distress coming from a practice that wasn’t fulfilling my needs. I was overworked, underpaid, and didn’t have the respect of the people I was trying to serve. I was having less fun than I did when I was in dental school, tending bar at the Black Kettle. I knew in my heart, after actually being hospitalized, that somehow, somewhere, there had to be another way, a different way. I vowed to find that way or quit dentistry and do something else. I knew there had to be a method, a model, a way to practice high quality dentistry in a manner that gave me the spiritual fulfillment (to satisfy my higher human needs) and at the same time provide the material (financial) fulfillment to satisfy my basic needs. I traveled and listened to all those who were lecturing and espousing various methods and models. Not one resonated with my heart.
So I decided to create my own…but I wanted real research, some solid background on human behavior, as a starting point.
When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Will Appear
I first discovered Abraham Maslow’s theories from my father. Maslow gave me a foundational model of human behavior that enabled me to create an entirely new method or model for a professional practice…mine. By 1975, I had created and utilized this model with the help of Abraham Maslow, Carl Jung, Carl Rogers, William Glasser, Sidney Harris, Elliott Simon, Jim Trask, Virginia Satire, L.D. Pankey, F. Harold Wirth, Bob Barkley, Charlie Stuart, Peter K. Thomas and Peter Dawson. I created this model of practice for myself and my own family. My intentions were originally selfish. As I began teaching at the Pankey Institute in Florida, I could see how few dentists were really implementing what Dr. Pankey and the Pankey Institute were teaching. My practice was working. In fact, it was thriving. In 5 years, I built the practice of my dreams. At age 37, I had reached financial independence and was providing the quality of care that I was trained to provide. I could also see how many dentists, striving for excellence, were frustrated. Many, in fact, were giving up and losing hope that they could ever practice the quality of care they were trained to deliver.
I went to Dr. Pankey and told him what I had in mind: creating a place where dentists who wanted to provide excellence to their patients could indeed realize the vision of their hearts. I would teach the principles of Management, Communication, Leadership, Strategies and Systems-all of which were the missing components in traditional dental education, before and after dental school. He heartily agreed and gave me his blessing to begin. With his support and the undying support of my friend and mentor, Dr. F. Harold Wirth, I moved my practice and family to the desert of Scottsdale, Arizona to create the place we call The Schuster Center. That was in 1978.
The model I created is rooted in what we all instinctively long for in our practices–the ability to provide high quality dental care to our patients and be remunerated at a level that meets our basic and higher needs. We also want to build a practice that compliments our values for a fulfilling life.
The model that we teach at The Schuster Center with the most earnest and committed belief, is based on Dr. F. Harold Wirth’s concept of quality care for the individual in a private environment, free from the pressures and manipulation of third party interference.
There will always be free enterprise private practice for the caring dentist who constantly seeks excellence for his patients through the exercise of great care, skill and judgment. For you who are concerned, do not worry as people will seek you out.
—F. Harold Wirth, DDS
A Matter of Choice
This model requires altering the way you think about operating your practice and then breaking the mold to provide valuable, quality dental care to fewer patients at a more profitable level. This concept has brought fulfillment and reward to thousands of dentists since 1978. It is founded on principle-centered management—a system of foundational truths that have universal application.
Using this model, dentists learn to become leaders of their dental practices. It is a developmental process. Dentists learn management principles and financial principles. As they acquire new skills they take more and more responsibility for their own lives and practices. The model embraces the effective use of time. The model embraces the application of sound communication skills and ethical sales methods to create and produce open, honest relationships. The model embraces the highest standard of technical dentistry that the dentist can deliver and the patient can accept.
The Management Program, which I created in 1978 as a learn-by-doing process for both the dentist and significant team members, is personalized and tailored to each individual dental practice.
While the concepts are easy to understand and are effective in any practice aspiring to excellence, the program is not a cookbook type of education. It is a total management program covering every activity in the practice. From the new patient process and case presentation, to money management, time management, hygiene, fee setting, payables, and receivable management…the program even includes a Life Planning Session for dentists and spouses. The rewards include a more comprehensive practice where: 1) patients receive the best dental care the dentist can provide, 2) staff is happy and healthy with less turnover and more satisfaction, 3) the practice realizes more profit with far less stress, 4) a stress reduced lifestyle is created as the dentist and all patients are cared for with sound goals and Master Plans, and 5) the dentist enjoys more time for family, friends and interaction with colleagues.
The Schuster Center can and does provide a process where the dentist, family, team and patients fulfill their needs in a way that enables all parties to thrive.
The Schuster Management Program is designed to enable a motivated professional team to implement the model successfully. It is comprised of three separate programs organically related to address three ‘personalities’ or ‘roles’ of a dentist that must awaken and evolve so the practice can grow also: The role of Leader, the role of Manager and the role of Technician.
Each of our programs, Strategic Planning (for the start up practice) and The Management Program (for established practices) address the development of these roles. Both programs provide the doctor and teams with the knowledge and skills necessary for them to move comfortably from the lower to the higher levels of practice development. Our Management Program is designed to provide a developmental path for practices to effectively and efficiently reach their purpose, to become what they truly have the potential of becoming. Success is then just a matter of choice.
—Michael Schuster, DDS