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One of the easiest paths to a successful dental practice is also one of the hardest: listening to your patient.
Really, it’s all any of us wants, anywhere we go and in most everything we do: to be heard and understood. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. Dental practices are busy places. There are schedules to keep. Patients have a lot of questions. Maybe they’re intimidated; maybe they’re worried.
Sure it’s a step that may take a little extra time, but I’ll argue that it’s necessary and worthwhile. Patients who feel their dentist and staff really listen to them are happier, loyal, and more trusting and agreeable to treatment and instructions.
Front desk staff should respond to a caller, not slip into blasé autopilot by reciting the hours or insurance information. Hygienists and assistants should strive to build a professional friendship with patients that balances an easy familiarity with the business at hand. And dentists need to see their patient as more than the next case on the schedule and more as a person who needs tending.
Dentist William van Dyk of San Pablo, CA, focuses on the importance of listening skills in his presentations on successful patient-centered practices. Get to a patient’s eye level or sit facing them while talking, he advised.
“Too often, the dentist is sitting and talking to the back of the patient’s head or standing over them,” he said. “It doesn’t take any extra time to sit down and face them.”
Other advice from Dr. van Dyk:
So often what gets in the way, Dr. van Dyk said, is a “doctor’s tendency to come to diagnosis or solution as soon as possible.” After all, he said, “we’re supposed to have the answers.”
The trouble is that this kind of “find it-fix it” approach — efficient as it is — doesn’t build a satisfying emotional connection. Let’s remember, patients are people.
A tradition of working for the dental profession. The Chicago Dental Society was organized in 1864 and incorporated in 1878. The objective of the Chicago Dental Society is to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry and to represent the intrest of the members of the profession and the public that it serves.
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