I went to one of my favorite restaurants to grab a bite to eat night before last and watch the start of the Texas Rangers wooping up on the Yankees in game 4 of the ALCS. I sat up at the bar in front of the big screen and the waitress, Carey, speaks loud enough for the fellow next to me to hear, "Dr. Scott…one of your patients came in the other day".
The reason I told you that is because the conversations that occurred after that is the REAL reason for this post!
Judson, the gentleman sitting a few chairs to my left overheard Carey addressing me, leans over and asks, "what kind of doctor are you?" "A dentist" I said. And then those famous words came out of his mouth, "I hate dentists" ! I smiled, as I usually do, and I asked Judson WHY? He went on to confess that he's a "wimp" and the last 5 dentists that he'd been to just sloughed him off when he told them that he was "Scared to death" of dentists. He said the common response he received from those dentists was: "Oh….you'll be fine" or "Ahhh…this is easy"……..and I interrupted him so I could finish the sentence for him,… "and they didn't offer you anything to address the anxiety you expressed: no nitrous oxide gas or pills to sedate you for your expressed fear?" He said, "no, they didn't offer anything and that is what bothers me".
T h e n …no kidding, a perfect stranger, Alanna, sitting just a few more chairs over, obviously overhearing and interested in what we were talking about, chimes in: "yeah, the last guy I went to wouldn't stop drilling….and I had tears in my eyes!"
What does "scared to death" really mean?
It really means: "sitting in your chair right now doctor is about the last thing I want to be doing; I would almost rather get stuck in the eye with a stick! And it also means, please don't hurt me; I don't really know you, I don't really trust you ….YET; continuing… please take the time to UNDERSTAND ME, because I'm feeling very vulnerable right now and if you hurt me, like my childhood dentist did, I might cry"! Now, I'm exaggerating a bit, but maybe not too far off for some.
I went on to share with Judson that I've built dental practices on LISTENING to patients, making them FEEL UNDERSTOOD, and as my good friend Thom says, fulfilling and UNFULFILLED NEED! Finding commonalities in interests, family, hobbies, work, children, friends, beliefs, etc., is a powerful way to connect with people.
When patient's tell me "I'm scared to death" or "I'm really nervous", that's an indication for doing EVERYTHING in your power to make this person feel more comfortable! Slow down, get focused on reducing this person's anxiety and make sure they know you CARE! If the patient doesn't feel like you care, they are not going to return for more NON-CARING. Guaranteed !
A Tip For Caring
I'll divulge one of my biggest secrets……… when giving a shot; use topical anesthesia, warm the carpules of the anesthetic (that just happens to have cooled to 70 degrees-room temp.), inject slowly, and persuade the patient into relaxing their back, hands and legs in the chair (like laying on a towel on the beach).
Have you ever jumped into a pool where the water was 70 degrees? IT"S SHOCKINGLY COLD.
After I told Judson about my tip on giving shots and offering nitrous oxide, sedatives or anti-anxiety agents, he asked me for a business card and said to me; "It's not about the money, I'll gladly pay whatever it costs to be comfortable" !
H E L L O … anyone listening?
Please comment below or tell me what you've experienced.