Tips For Submitting Your DODC Entry
Have you recently built, expanded or remodeled your dental practice? Then consider entering the Dental Office Design Competition (DODC), sponsored by Wells Fargo Practice Finance, Dental Economics, the American Dental Association and ADA Business ResourcesSM. The nationally recognized competition gives you an opportunity to receive recognition from your peers for the excellent work you have accomplished.
You might be surprised to learn that lavish operatories and large budgets are not the key factors in determining an exceptional design. In fact, winning practices have ranged from modest designs that achieve a balance of appeal and functionality within the scope of the practitioner's vision, to specialty practices that effectively meet specific design challenges.
Entering the Dental Office Design Competition takes discipline to fully document your practice design process and outcome. However, as you articulate your vision and recognize your accomplishments in meeting your goals, you'll find the entry process itself can be rewarding. In addition, should you be the winner in one of six competition categories, your practice will be showcased to dental practitioners nationwide at the ADA annual meeting as well as on the Wells Fargo Practice Finance website at practicefinance.wellsfargo.com.
Below you'll find useful information for completing the DODC entry form as well as a description of the design criteria for each of the competition categories. For more information about what makes a winning practice, see the article Could Your Dental Office Be A Design Competition Winner?
The Dental Office Design Competition entry form requires a good deal of thought and organization to complete. Every submission is reviewed by a panel of seven judges from the dental practice design, practice management and dental health care disciplines. The judging panel looks for an explanation of the mission of your practice, your design objectives, the challenges your design solved, the level of technology used, and your rationale for the design choices you made. They want to see your floor plans as well as photographs of the finished product.
The thoughtfulness and clarity used in completing the entry form does influence the judges' determination of a winner. As panel judge Jeff Carter, DDS, Architectural Planner and owner, PDG-Practice Design Group, points out, "Just like with anything else, the best projects are the most organized. Information is organized, answers are nicely printed, photos are mounted, neat, orderly. The presentation is important. If the binder is in a jumble, it's not likely to be a winner."
DODC judge Gregory R. Liberatore, DDS, Liberatore Family Dentistry, states, "Every application gives us an opportunity to see whether the entrant has thought through the design project and understands why they're doing it. The application reflects the level of thoughtfulness put into the project and its execution."
So if you choose to enter the competition (and we encourage you to do so!), follow these tips to ensure your entry form is organized and stands out from the rest:
- Be concise and clear in answering questions - it makes a greater impact.
- Make sure your descriptions are congruent with the photos you submit - there should be no conflicts between what you're saying and what you're showing.
- Include people photos that show the functionality of the practice, particularly chair-side between the clinical staff and patient.
- Be sure photos are well executed and of professional quality. Winning practices are showcased to your colleagues, so it's important that images be publishable.
- Presentation is important - be organized, neat and orderly, presumably just like your design project itself!
- Be sure your application is complete and reflects the level of thoughtfulness you put into your project.
Understanding Competition Categories
The Dental Office Design Competition features several unique design categories in which practices can compete. Competition applicants can enter in every category for which they qualify. Below are some of the judges' thoughts on determining winners in these categories.
Dental Office Design of the Year - Solo Practice
Winners of this category excel at the five key design parameters for determining a DODC competition winner in the context of a solo practitioner office, which may have a more modest design budget and floor plan than a group or specialty practice. (For details about the five key design criteria the judges use in evaluating entries, see the article Could Your Dental Office be a Design Competition Winner?
"Entrants will be slightly different because of the physicality of office needs -- clinical needs, ergonomic needs, functional needs. It's easy to look at magazines that premiere winners and see that some have a very large budget. We tell practices to look beyond the budget - remember, it's all to scale." (Dr. Gregory R. Liberatore)
Dental Office Design of the Year - Group Practice
While meeting all the key design parameters for determining a winner, group practices must also demonstrate that they have successfully met the challenges of designing more complex work spaces while managing patient and staff flow patterns.
"With a large facility we're looking more closely at patient flow patterns than with a single doctor practice." (DODC judge John Jameson, DDS, Jameson Management Inc.)
"We look very carefully at whether or not an appropriate amount of space was used. More space does not necessarily mean a more efficient office." (DODC judge Geri True, Director of Interior Design, Unthank Design Group)
Outstanding New Dentist Practice
New dental practices typically have more modest design budgets and may emphasize technology over aesthetics as they are often building their functional workspace from scratch.
"We're looking for creativity on a budget, which in many ways is much more difficult than investing high dollar amounts in office design. There are design visionaries even in dental school who can be incredibly creative and know what's effective on a very tight budget." (Dr. Jeff Carter)
"New practices need to create an office that isn't lopsided - don't spend all your money in equipment and ignore the impact when people walk in. This is a greater challenge now for new dentists as equipment costs are quite high, so it's hard to know where to distribute the funds." (DODC judge Pat Carter, Interior Designer / Owner, PDG-Practice Design Group)
Outstanding Specialty Practice
Entrants in this category must demonstrate that they have overcome the unique design challenges for their particular specialty in regards to functional work space, patient flow patterns, technology solutions and aesthetics.
"Specialty practices represent a harder design challenge as each specialty has entirely different clinical goals, so it requires more thoughtfulness to come up with effective design solutions." (Dr. Gregory R. Liberatore)
"This year we chose a pediatric office as winner, which varies considerably from other general and specialty practices in the need for catering to children, parents, quiet rooms for treatment, areas that would vary from other types of planning." (DODC judge Michael Unthank, DDS, Owner & Architect, Unthank Design Group)
Outstanding Design Efficiency
The Design Efficiency category recognizes that some dental practices are challenged to create a highly functional office within a limited amount of space.
"This category emphasizes maximizing efficiency in terms of square footage and creating a space that is as effective as possible for all providers within it." (Geri True)
Benefits of Participating
In summary, the Dental Office Design Competition awards those practices that exemplify a well-thought-out balance of efficiency, function and design aesthetics while accurately reflecting the doctor's personal vision for his or her practice. In addition, the competition provides a showcase of outstanding designs so that those considering a practice remodel, expansion or build-out can learn from the competition winners and better maximize their investment.
Consider entering your own practice in the Dental Office Design Competition! It takes time and dedication to complete the application process - but whether you win or not, you'll have a better understanding of how well you did in defining and achieving your goals, and what the next steps might be in refining the objectives for your dental practice. As Dr. Greg Liberatore says, "Don't judge yourself first - enter the competition so we can have an opportunity to review your submission. Your office may be better than you realize!"
And as a competition entrant, know that all of the hard work you put into documenting your design process is very thoroughly reviewed by the judging panel and given meticulous consideration. The DODC judges take your work very seriously, and find it a genuine pleasure to participate in honoring your hard work in planning and executing the vision for your practice.
For more information about the history of the Dental Office Design Competition and insights from the judging panel on what makes a winning dental practice design, see the article Could Your Dental Office Be A Design Competition Winner?
Wells Fargo Practice Finance is a sponsor of the Dental Office Design Competition and does not participate in the judging process. There is no scoring or bias predicated on project financing or lender relationship.
ADA® is a registered trademark of the American Dental Association. ADA Business ResourcesSM is a service mark of the American Dental Association. ADA Business Resources is a program brought to you by ADA Business Enterprises, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Dental Association.
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