With patients, meet them where they are
As the saying from my previous article goes: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This quote was more evident in how I treat patients. More than a patient, I treat them as family members. I enjoy coming into work with a team that is happy and engaged and giving their best to show the patients how much we care. Even though I present treatment plans to the patient, I cannot do this without the support of the team. I am truly grateful for my team and how hard-working they are.
My eagerness to hop out of bed and drive an hour to my dental practice in hopes of making someone’s day and making them feel better about their health, function, esthetics, self-esteem, and confidence is my motivation to continue to do what I do: be a dentist. I define dentistry as being an artist, psychologist, friend, and engineer in one job. Yes, we wear many hats, even a singer, for the pediatric patients that visit my office.
When we treat our patients as family members, we continue to give them the best treatment possible. We also connect with them on a personal level where we know interesting facts such as how they have two children where one wants to be a dentist, or how excited they are to almost enter high school or even college pursuing a variety of careers.
These are engaging stories because these are stories that define who they are.
Who do you believe knows your patient best in a dental practice? If you answered, your dental hygienist, that is correct! We only spend a few minutes with them when we evaluate the dental findings, while performing a head/neck exam and obtain additional findings.
When walking into a room, it is key to take the time to get to know your patients. My goal in each patient’s room that I walk into is to connect and get to know the patient, while also providing a memorable patient experience for them.
I ask a few questions about them such as, “What are your plans after today?” and “What do you like to do for fun?” The questions change, but it is to get to know them for who they are and show that we, dentists are human, aside from the white coat and loupes that we wear.
I then gauge how they respond to these questions and tailor the rest of my responses to their answers.
I understand that some people do not enjoy being at a dental office, but for us to create a fun experience for them, is what makes my career fun. I enjoy doing what I love, while providing the dental care they need to improve and maintain their overall dental health.
When there is dental work to be completed, I sit down at the level of the patient and discuss the findings in words and analogies that they can understand. I am mindful to gauge to their reaction and behavior and watch their response, as to what I am saying and pause for questions that they may have. I then, answer all their questions and discuss how this would help them maintain their overall health.
What I learned from patient communication is to show them that you truly care by taking the time to get to know them and use easy-to-understand words and analogies that they can relate to. Doing this, I have gained the patient’s trust and have comforted the patient by knowing that you continue to “do no harm” and treat them like family.
Dr. Jessica Nguyen is a recent dental graduate from the University of Minnesota-School of Dentistry. Dr. Nguyen will be working as an associate general dentist in Forest Lake, Minnesota. She enjoys spending time with her family, singing, trying new foods with her friends, and playing sports. Dr. Nguyen connects with others by learning from their stories because she believes each person has a life lesson that one can learn from. She is passionate about volunteering and helping others by giving advice to pre-dental students, dental students, and sharing positive, uplifting, inspirational stories to guide others to become successful, achieve their dreams, and live life to the fullest. Any questions/comments and please reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.