A Question To Ask Your Patients
There’s so much more to our patients than where they work, what type of insurance they have, and that gnarly MOD amalgam on tooth # 30. And getting to know them as a real person and not just a set of teeth goes a long way towards all of the things we want – treatment plan acceptance, sending referrals, etc… Maybe even more importantly – getting to know our patients is FUN!
You will learn some interesting things and find out some really cool stuff when you get to know someone a little better.
Here’s a simple question to ask your patients:
“What would you like to be doing if you weren’t at a dental appointment right now?”
Or you can throw in a little self-deprecating humor and say something like:
“I know that you would rather be in the dental office than anywhere else, but what’s in second place?”
You will often find that the answer to that question will open you up to more questions and some fun conversations.
Try it! You’ll learn some fascinating things about your patients, and really get to know them as so much more than a set of teeth and gums.
I constantly did this in my practice and learned some really cool things about my patients. Here are a few that come to mind:
- A shy gentleman who was an expert rock climber and has trekked on every continent. There was a picture of him in National Geographic!
- The granny who was the lead singer in a psychedelic rock band in the 60s. No wonder she always wanted the 4:20 appointment!
- A retired Secret Service agent who was assigned to President Ford’s daughter. He had some hilarious stories!
There were so many interesting people in my patient base that I would never have otherwise known about. Here are probably my two favorites:
- A mathematician who went to high school with Bob Dylan and actually beat Bob in the school talent show! This was chronicled in a Dylan biography, and I bought the book as a gift for this guy. Talk about a patient for life!
- An elderly, soft spoken woman with a thick accent who was a translator at the UN. She was there and right in front on the day Nikita Khrushchev, Communist leader of The Soviet Union, famously banged his shoe on his desk in protest.
Of course, once you find out great things like this, make chart notes about your conversations and rekindle them on future visits.
Go ahead. Give it a try! At the very least it will make the day more fun for you AND your patients. Many people have interesting stories; some are downright fascinating. And if you can “extract them,” not only will your job be more fun, you’ll learn tons of cool stuff, make people happy, AND grow your practice!