Listen to the podcast here:
Andi Igowsky is a pediatric dentist in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and is the co-owner of Just Kids Dental along with her sister. She attended the Marquette School of Dentistry and furthered her education with a Certificate of Pediatric Dentistry at The Children’s Hospital in Denver and is a proud Sprig Live and Sprig University speaker. She loves to do CrossFit since she used to be a competitive soccer player during residency. After having children, she found CrossFit and fell in love with weightlifting and cardio. She goes six days a week, five of which she goes at 5:30 in the morning.
Unfortunately, in 2019, she had some leg pain with some tingling and numbness and found out that she had a fractured L5 vertebra. After being diagnosed December 31, 2018, she had a spinal fusion in January 2019. “It was quite the shock”, she said and wondered what it meant for her career. Thankfully, she was referred to spinal specialist who does minimally invasive surgeries. He eased her mind by saying, “I know what you do for a living, I know that you’re pretty motivated, and obviously very fit and definitely young to be having a spinal fusion but I think I can get you back to work within a couple weeks”. After talking further, he agreed that she could go back to work in two weeks instead of six.
Andi was able to go home from the surgery the same day and made both of her scheduled trips without pain. One was a vacation four weeks later and one was a Sprig event in Australia eight weeks later. She couldn’t be happier with the results.
Andi went into the surgery with the attitude that this was a set-back, but she couldn’t let it ruin her life. She spoke to one orthopedic surgeon over the phone who referred her to the spinal specialist who said, “You’re healthy, you’re fit, you’re strong, you can do this now and get through this and not have this ruin your life.”
With two young daughters at home, Andi also kept in mind that she’s a role model for them. She wanted to maintain a strong and inspirational image. Her daughters were supportive and even made beds next to her on the floor by the recliner she was sleeping in for the first week after surgery. They also helped her husband take good care of her and were excited when she got up for the first time and walked on her own. They continue to celebrate her victories by coming with her to the gym at least once a week to cheer her on.
Andi finds that the key to motivation for her is by sitting down and making a list of goals. At the beginning of the year she always makes personal goals, business goals, travel goals, and fitness goals.
Team motivation is an important aspect of any dental office. Andi motivates her staff by recognizing the little things that makes everybody’s life easier. She asks the team members to take note of them and put it into the “Caught doing something good” jar. At staff meetings she reads them aloud and rewards them to create a positive atmosphere. She finds that positive notes coming from each other motivates them to keep wanting to do things for each other.
During any patient handoff, they always say “Thank you”. Everyone makes eye contact when they say it, furthering the authenticity of positivity. She notes that many clients have commented in reviews that they love it.
Andi also tries to incorporate bigger things as well. She takes her team to CE events like Sprig Live and surprises them with things like a yacht ride on Lake Michigan for the office’s 15-year anniversary and a trip to Hawaii.
She gave her staff a survey with ten different job motivators and was asked to rank them 1-10. The motivators were compensation, benefits, positive work environment, feeling appreciated, hours/schedule, working for a successful company, friendships, job description/like what I do, having a fair boss, and the ability to have additional responsibilities. The number one thing they all agreed was the top motivator was a positive work environment. Another one that ranked high was feeling appreciated. After doing this review, they decided to change their staff review protocol to this format.
Her surprises for the staff are usually random. There are some scheduled things like dental assistant week and dental hygiene week and administrative assistant day but if they have to stay during the evening for emergency cases, she brings them coffee in the morning or gives them a thank you card. Sometimes she’ll bring in ice cream for the staff.
During the evening they end the day with a huddle. This way they can blow off some steam with everyone, thank them for coming into work that day, discuss what happened that day, and prepare for the next morning. Doing this in the evening instead of the morning allows her the time to drop off her children at school instead of having them take the bus.
Parent and Patient Motivation
It can be difficult to get patients and parents motivated. To get parents and patients motivated with oral hygiene, the approach should be to have a face to face conversation and try to relate as a mom. Often the question comes up, “What would you do if it was your child?” Andi tries to give them advice like, “This is what I see, and this is what I would do.” She encourages tangible rewards. For example, every day they brush their teeth they get a sticker and then get sent to the movies after a solid month of brushing. She also gives them a dollar for every no-cavity visit and has them put it in a jar. At the end of the year they match it and donate it to a local charity that the patients vote on. The kids also get to ring the “no cavity bell” which she has outside her office.
Sprig Changing Lives
Andi emphasizes that zirconia crowns are her standard of care. Often when asking a parent what they saw different in their child they say they look back at pictures of their children and they weren’t smiling but now they always smile in pictures. Andi often talks about how using these crowns has changed her life. Being able to provide this standard of care and provide smiles is something that she cherishes.
Pediatric dentists often say that they’re burnt out at a young age but not Andi. She attributes her motivation and enthusiasm for her work to Sprig’s EZCrowns. She’s shocked at how great the cases turn out and how natural the crowns look even after 10 years of placing them.