It will come as no surprise to know that dentists, as well as other healthcare professionals, influence their patients in many different ways. While some ways – such as filling your patient’s cavity – are obvious, others may be surprising. In fact, many healthcare professionals might not know the extent to which they influence their patients in discrete ways. These are 6 unguessable ways that you influence your patients:
It is not uncommon for a dental practice to be busy. You may be juggling several patients at the same time, causing you to become stressed. You may also be experiencing non-work related stresses that can seep into your work life. However, stress can often be seen and felt, especially by people that are in vulnerable positions. This includes patients that are visiting their healthcare provider. Seeing their dentist stressed can cause patients to take on that stress. It can cause patients to become increasingly nervous, anxious or agitated about their upcoming procedure or visit. These are some strategies that you can employ to lessen your stress during the workday:
- Get to work early and stay organized. Getting to work early can help give you a head start on the day’s patients. It will give you time to get through the patient files before seeing your patient, allowing you to stay organized and on time.
- Take a break. Make sure to schedule breaks during your day.
- Don’t take on too many patients. Many dentists take on more patients than they need to or have the capacity to handle. You should know your limit and stick within it.
Unfortunately, appearances are the first thing that patients will judge you by. If you look disheveled, then that can significantly reduce a patient’s trust in you. Therefore, you should always dress and look presentable. People are putting their health in your hands, and appearing presentable can help them further establish their trust in you. These are some tips to keep in mind:
- Have great oral hygiene. Dentists have to lead by example and therefore, should focus on their personal oral health before fixing anyone else’s.
- Keep any facial hair well-trimmed.
- Dress presentably. Many dentists choose to wear scrubs nowadays, which is completely appropriate. If you choose not to wear scrubs, then make sure whatever you wear is professional.
Acknowledge How Your Patients Might be Feeling
Many patients are nervous prior to the start of any healthcare procedure, regardless of the risks involved. This is particularly true in dentistry, as many people (children especially) are afraid of going to the dentist. This can be heightened by having to wait several minutes, or hours, for the procedure. Once you see your patient, acknowledging how they may be feeling – whether it be nervous, upset, agitated or angry – can help put a patient’s mind at ease. Communicate with your patients with compassion.
Keep Your Staff Happy
Happy employees can make the patient’s visit to the dentist much more pleasant. Patients can sense a happy work environment, which can help put their minds at ease during a visit. Seeing a happy staff can also increase the patients’ trust in their dentist. Therefore, making sure your employees are happy can have a significant beneficial effect. You can make your employees happy by letting them know that they are valued and appreciated, or by rewarding them publicly.
Educate and Communicate With Your Patients Using a Blog
Many dentists are so busy with their practice that they can often forget to educate their patients about dental hygiene. While you may not have time during a regular patient visit to educate them fully about their condition, a blog can serve as a great educatory platform. Weekly blogs can help you stay in contact with your patients, and educate them about oral hygiene. They will also be a lot more likely to adhere to their oral hygiene practices if you explain the importance of it. These are some topics you can write about:
- You can write about healthy oral hygiene practices, such as the importance of regular teeth cleaning.
- You can educate your patients on food and drinks that can be eroding their teeth.
Sit and listen to your patients
While it may sound simple, many dentists don’t necessarily take the time to sit down with their patients. Studies have shown that patients are more content when their healthcare provider sits down with them, as it helps build their confidence. This does not just mean taking a seat in the same room as your patient, but to actually take the time to listen to them.
You can be influencing your patients in ways that you may not even have thought of. The good news is, you can harness all these ways to improve communication with your patients, build their trust in you, and achieve good oral health.
About the Author
Dr. Fadi Swaida first graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an Honors BSc in Biology before graduating from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Dentistry. He is an active member of his church and enjoys football and being by the water! His outgoing personality and fun-loving character will ensure you always feel welcome at Dentist North York.