Are You “Triple A?”

by Bohdan Kryshtalskyj, BSc., DDS

There are few attributes that contribute as much to successful practice as being able, affable and available.

When someone in our family requires medical attention we like to think that he/she is in the best of hands. The clinician must be able to record a thorough history, conduct a clinical examination, order and interpret the required diagnostic tests and perform any surgical procedure using state of the art technology. We expect the doctor to possess a high level of skill and knowledge and to be acutely aware of positive clinical outcomes and potential complications. Although ability speaks for itself, taken alone, it is hardly sufficient unless it is supported by sound clinical judgement as well as a thorough understanding of all reasonable treatment options. Most importantly, knowing when not to prescribe a specific treatment is paramount to successful management. Furthermore, the affable health care practitioner is friendly, approachable, caring, responsible and courteous and shows compassion and understanding in response to sensitive and demanding clinical circumstances.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly is availability. In this new age of tremendous technical innovation, availability and communication with patients can be achieved through the use of a pager, cell phone, E-mail or other “wireless” communication tools. Undoubtedly, the most sensitive indicator of availability is response time. Indeed, few situations lead to as much frustration and anger as the inability to contact your physician/dentist in an urgent clinical predicament.

Most able and affable clinicians are “on call” for their patient after hours or take turns on call with their fellow practitioners. Unfortunately, some clinicians fail to direct their patients to after hours emergency services should the need arise and this is clearly a serious breach in professional responsibility. One must either be personally available and accessible to his/her patients or make specific arrangements with a collegue to do so.

From time to time diligent introspection and self-examination can be a very useful exercise. Thus the qualities of ability, affability and availability still remain the cornerstone of a successful practice. Are you “Triple A?”

Dr. Bohdan Kryshtalskyj is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon practicing in West Toronto. He is on active surgical staff at Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery University of Toronto, and the Trillium Health Centre. He is contributing editor, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Oral Health.