Has a patient ever given you a thank-you present? I imagine many of you have received them. As dentists, we charge fees for our services. The fees are our compensation, and we don’t expect anything else. Nevertheless, it is not rare for patients to bring small gifts like vegetables or flowers from their gardens.
One of the first comprehensive-care patients I was assigned was a patient in need of complete dentures. She was a Medicaid recipient who struggled to pay for gas to drive to the dental school. She often planned her appointments around the days when she received her paychecks. On the day I delivered her dentures, she surprised me by handing me a handmade quilt she had crafted for me. She didn’t have much to give, but she bought fabric and sewed it together anyway.
Before I went into dentistry, the thought never occurred to me that one might give their dentist/doctor/you name it a present beyond the customary fees. I realize now that receiving one makes me feel unbelievably appreciated. I have started giving gifts to those I patronize. Gifts remind you that, although we have bills and loans to pay, money is not why we do what we do.
The next time you are helped by your pharmacist, teacher, barber, agent, or mechanic, think about how you can show them that you appreciate their time and effort. Remember that they, too, have pride in their work and go beyond the bare minimum needed to earn a paycheck. And remember that life isn’t just about money.