When I first became an associate at my current practice, patients who had been treated by my boss for years were extremely reluctant to be seen by me. Most of them were reasonably polite about it, expressing a perfectly understandable preference to be seen by the doctor who had been treating them since they first came in. But some patients had a more, let’s say, dramatic reaction.
“Dr. WHO? Absolutely NOT!”
“Where did she come from? How am I supposed to know if she’s even any good?”
“My teeth are SPECIAL and I won’t trust them to just ANYONE!”
“OK, well, I want the EXACT spelling of her name so I can look her up on the Internet before I say yes.”
Hey, I get it. I’m the same way about my hair. If I make an appointment with a master stylist at a salon for my usual highlights and cut, I’m not too thrilled when the shampoo girl runs her inexperienced hands through my tresses and suggests mixing it up with a new ‘do. After all, MY hair follicles are SPECIAL and they need an EXPERT tending to them.
After spending an inordinate amount of time on the phone reassuring our patients of record that I was a perfectly qualified and competent dentist, the office manager told my boss that it was time to introduce me to the world as the newest addition to the practice.
It was time to put me on the website.
I don’t know if older generations of dentists can appreciate the significance of being added to the practice website. Much like getting your name added to the front door or the sign out front, having your picture and biography added to a private practice’s website is a big milestone for new associates. It’s a visual confirmation that our careers are moving forward and in a positive direction. It validates your presence in the practice to patients who haven’t met you yet. And it’s something we can instantly show off to our mommies, daddies, families, buddies, enemies (and any other -ies you can think of) with a few clicks of a mouse.
Writing my bio for the office website wound up being a much more difficult task than I had anticipated. What to include? What to leave out? How do you summarize your career trajectory and present it in such a way that is interesting, informative, and—most importantly—convinces people that they can trust you to be their dentist? Does anyone really care what I do when I’m not at my day job?
I did a little recon work by checking out other dentists’ website profiles, starting first with my former classmates and professors. This turned out to be a hilarious endeavor. I won’t call out anyone in particular, but if those individuals happen to be reading this: COME ON, people. I know you don’t run marathons for charity in your spare time and enjoy perusing the latest scientific literature as a hobby. Who are you kidding? I guess “bar hopping” and “cyberstalking my significant other’s exes” may not be the sort of pastimes you want your patients to know about.
I then struggled to find an appropriate photograph of myself to display online. The last (only) time I had ever been photographed by a professional photographer was for my wedding. Those pictures came out beautifully, but none of them seemed like the right accompaniment to a narrative detailing my training and experience. IMHO, unless you’re walking down the aisle at Westminster Abbey en route to marrying the future king of England, being photographed wearing a tiara doesn’t do much to add to the credibility of your accomplishments.
Do I have photos of myself “in action” as a licensed dentist? Sure do! Here’s one of me as a resident, proudly representing the dental department after a week straight of call:
OK, maybe not practice website material, either. One more thing to add to the to-do list: get professional headshots taken.
For now, I’ll have to make do with the best I have. As of yesterday, my bio has officially gone live on the office website! I have my own little drop-down menu tab and everything! Check it out and let me know if I’ve left out anything that would help make me sound more legit. In the meantime, I’ll be perusing the latest scientific literature and training for my next marathon.
Diana Nguyen, DDS