Are you familiar with the show Chopped? Basically, four experienced chefs are faced with the challenge of opening a basket of surprise ingredients. They have to create an appetizer, main course, and a dessert within a certain amount of time. Judges then critique each chef’s creation and begin the elimination process by “chopping” the loser in each round. For instance, they may have twenty minutes to make a dessert from sea urchin guts, tootsie rolls and cottage cheese. A daunting task for any chef, I would think. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be a judge, if you know what I mean.
Sometimes, I feel like I’m on that show when I walk into an operatory because you never know what you are going to find. Room 1: denture sore spot adjustment, disgruntled daughter (who happens to be the unwilling driver), and her quiet husband. Try getting in and out of there in 15 minutes!
Room 2: texting teenager with attitude, frightened father, and younger brother with gauged ear lobes. You have 30 minutes to do a root canal on #9. Go!
Room 3: female patient, baby in car seat on floor being rocked by mother’s foot (whole chair is moving), older brother throwing Mr. Potato Head parts all over room. Try to do a DO composite resin on # 31 in 20 minutes.
Remember that I used to be a cook, so I am familiar with this pressure. Now, there is another element of surprise that sometimes gets thrown in. Maybe the ice-cream maker will not work, or maybe another chef took all the honey! Now what? We face the same thing in our operatory. The water may shut off, or the compressor will stop working. This is not a time to panic.
It takes a seasoned chef (and a seasoned dentist) to overcome adversity. You may have to improvise on a moment’s notice. For example, go ahead and let the girl text while you re-group. You can even suggest she do a little Facebooking while you get your act together (there is no shame in that). I must admit, even though there are no judges to evaluate what we do in those situations, sometimes I would like to tell the patient, “You’ve been chopped!”
Have a great week.