About a year ago, I saw a patient first thing on Monday morning. Nobody at the office had had their coffee yet and we were a little sluggish. We seated the patient and proceeded to perform a DO and an MOD on #12 and #13, as charted in the treatment plan. We stopped once to give the patient a break when she stated that her jaw had locked up. We finished up and walked her to the front.
Later that same day, the office manager called me in to discuss something. Our first patient in the morning had written us an email stating that she would no longer be a patient at our office due to the unfriendliness of the staff. I was quite shocked by this email and tried to rack my brain as to what we did wrong. Did I inject slowly enough? Did I ignore the patient when she was having pain? Did I not ask her to let us know if anything was bothering her? Everything procedurally had gone very smoothly.
In her email, she stated that no one had said good morning or good bye when she left and that there were staff members just standing around. As she was the first patient of the day, there were no hygiene patients yet and the hygienists were hanging out at the front desk. I did not remember saying good morning and it was possible that nobody else did either. I called the patient and tried to discuss with her if she felt unwelcome and asked her to call me so we could figure it out. The patient never called back and never made another appointment with us.
After the initial shock wore off, I realized that it wasn't the patient’s fault that she was the first person on a Monday morning or that we were not all at our very happiest and shiniest. What I have tried to take from this experience is to always start every appointment with a friendly greeting and a smile. It is important to let go of whatever frustrations I have been dealing with. If the lab was late on a case or the staff is stressing me out, I can't let it show.
When I am feeling stressed, I try to remember the feeling when I received that email. A friendly greeting goes a long way.
Sarah Meyer, DDS