Scenario One: You ask a patient in the waiting room, in front of other patients or staff, to hand their denture over to you for repair (it has also happened, probably more than once). Later, your patient is handed his or her repaired denture over the counter at the front.
Scenario Two: You take the patient into the privacy of your op and sit them in the chair and, with respect, ask for their denture. When it has been repaired, again seat them in the privacy of the op and insert the denture. You have a steaming hot face cloth to give the patient to wipe their hands and face and a hand-mirror for them to examine the results.
Did you pick up the difference between those two scenarios? (Answer: caring and compassion and dignity were absent in the first and present in the second.)
Tender Loving Care
Becoming a great ‘Denture Specialist’ means developing within yourself the ability to empathize or see the other person’s point of view. Compassion means having sympathy and tenderness for another. Dignity means relative importance or position. Caring means to have or show regard, interest or concern; also to have a fondness for. Bottom line, how would you like to be treated in front of others?
By the way, caring and compassion have nothing to do with giving away your services for free or at a discount. Nor have they anything to do with being phony, syrupy or too sentimental.
In the rush and crush of your daily practice, you may sometimes find yourself a little short on tenderness or empathy. Some of you seem to be born with more compassion than others. Some may have to work on it and practice living in the other person’s shoes to really get the hang of this. You are denturists, though, and not just lab technicians slinging product around the lab. As a denturist, you are working with people and need to be sensitive to making this a positive experience for them.
Start With a Mission Statement
Anyone can develop it with practice. It starts off with a good mission statement for the practice. This is a written up statement which sets down the focus or goals of the practice. If you have staff, include them in the working out of the wording of this statement because everyone must agree on it and work daily toward the achievement of those goals.
An example of a mission statement might read:
Our practice is dedicated to the creation of the highest quality dentures for the maximum pleasure and use of our patients. We also have the purpose of establishing a suitable, stress free and pleasant working environment that is conducive to the physical and mental well being of all the patients as well as every staff member. Our goal is a patient who has received the best possible care from each member of our team, who is enthusiastic about their service from us and as a result actively refers others to our office. Our other goals are cheerful, caring and highly motivated staff members working together to their fullest potential in a happy environment.
How is this applied?
Once the mission statement has been worked out by you and your staff, have each one (or just yourself, if you have no staff) work out how they individually from their positions within the practice, contribute to the above statement. This adds to their motivation because they are working at fulfilling a higher purpose than just reporting in and collecting a paycheque at the end of the week. They can have a sense of accomplishment of the goals of the practice.
Staff are important too
Notice that staff are very much included in the above statement. Stressed, unhappy staff don’t deliver quality care. Creating a stress-free and cheerful working environment will not only attract patients but also good staff but also help you keep them too. The staff can examine their own actions and interactions with patients and compare themselves to the ideals set out in the mission statement. They can ask themselves when they mishandle something: did that action provide the best quality care to our patients? And then they can work out how to do it better next time. Good staff are pretty self-correcting when they know what is expected of them.
Here are some tips and examples from some of our clients with respect to providing the caring, compassionate environment for the patients and staff.
- The ‘waiting room’ is referred to as the ‘greeting room’. Patients come and meet others and chat. The whole idea is that they are there to be serviced, not to wait.
- When you are finished treating a patient, walk them out to the front and help them into their coat and shake their hand and tell them that it has been a pleasure to serve them. Many patients will say, “No, it has been my pleasure.”
- Laugh, have fun, make the experience in your practice be a positive, pleasurable one. Focus on talking about positive things with the patients rather than discussing bad news.
- When a patient says, “I hate to complain…”, say “No, it is not a complaint – it is a concern.”
- Keep in mind that your practice is not all about making money, it is to deliver dedicated service. Work at that every day. And you will do very well financially. Just put the emphasis on the service first.
- One of our clients has an internal waiting room where patients sit while their dentures are being worked on — giving more privacy than the front room.
- Create a pleasant environment of nice music, pictures on the walls, comfortable chairs, coffee, current magazines.
- It’s all about the patients knowing that you care. Let them know that you do.
Food for thought
I hope that I have inspired you to get a mission statement done up and put into action. It’s all about top quality dentures, service, compassion and well-cared for staff — including you.
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