To obtain a license to practice Dental medicine, you need to spend at least six years at university to receive your degree. You will learn how to diagnose, prevent, and treat dental issues and use sophisticated equipment. Even with all your training, there aren’t many lessons in the academic curriculum that prepare you to handle patients’ personalities.
Bedside manner is something many healthcare practitioners struggle with. Providing expert and efficient care is the goal of any health professional, however, the human aspect demands just as much attention as the disease. Some patients are very amiable, which makes treatment a breeze. Once in a while, however, you may encounter a difficult, demanding patient who objects or resists your recommendations and attempts to treat them.
When this happens, its an opportunity for every dentist to practice the most complicated aspects of their job, which is to relate to, empathize with, and gain the trust of your patient so you can give them the best care possible. Here are some tips that can help you improve your relationships with your patients in your job as a dental hygienist:
1. Listen to their concerns
Difficult patients often act up because they feel disappointed by the institutions that they approach. Remember that when a patient seeks help, they are in a state of discomfort and misery, and that can make them feel very vulnerable. They are wary of professionals who will try to take advantage of their desperate state. They can express this with hostility and aggression, even with someone who is trying to help them. Before you draw up a treatment plan, sit with them, listen to their concerns, and personalise your approach instead of checking them off your list.
2. Put yourself in their shoes
Empathy is a vital trait for any healthcare professional to exhibit. If you want to earn your patient’s trust, imagine what it is like to be in their position. They may have been suffering for months, or even years. They may have very low self-esteem because of the appearance of their teeth. They may not have anyone who wants to be near them because of their oral health issues. Share in their misery and offer some much-needed hope, and you may get a positive response from them.
3. Swallow your pride
With all your years of experience and expertise in dentistry, you might think that you have seen everything. It can lead to a sense of pride that some patients may find off-putting. When you encounter a difficult person, avoid the temptation of wanting to be right. Sometimes it might involve indulging them for an additional test or another examination in ruling out particular diagnoses. Your patient may also feel that you are not pinpointing the exact concern, so don’t assume you know what the problem is until you have exhausted all possibilities.
4. Display confidence
Keep in mind that you are sufficiently trained and equipped to treat your patients, so while it is proper not to be too proud, have confidence in your abilities. Success in your dental job depends on a certain level of self-belief. A potential patient won’t be able to trust a dentist who shivers at the slightest sign of offence or aggression. Having confidence is a sign that you have adequate experience to get the job done.
5. Set boundaries
While you should adjust to accommodate your patients, it is essential to set limits so that you are still able to deliver the basic standard of care and maintain a professional working relationship with them. Inappropriate behaviour should not be tolerated. A patient needs to know that they need to adjust to their provider as well to have a mutually beneficial outcome.
Most difficult patients experience personal problems long before they walk into your office. If you have the unfortunate position of receiving a problematic patient, remember that you aren’t the root cause of their issues. Meet them with compassion and kindness. You never know, you may not only help alleviate their dental problems but you might also offer them emotional comfort as well.
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