The emotional side of dentistry

Posted by Denplan on 18/05/2017
Catherine Rutlands Great Dane

There are times when I am in so many places in a week that I start to lose touch with reality. Life becomes a blur of trains, planes and automobiles with some varying interfaces with people in between. Making sure I have the right thought process hat on for the varying interfaces can also become a challenge.

Being on the whole, a creature of habit, surgery life suited me well and when I started this role seven years ago initially the variations threw me. If you had told me then that, on the whole, I would love this variation, I don’t think I would have believed you! However, there are times when this blur has to focus. Last Friday I was near Chester and about an hour before I was due to start the journey home I received a message from my dog walker. My almost ten year old great Dane, Kubwa, was not good. For any pet owners reading this, there are times when you just know you are going to be in for some tough decisions. Having to spend three and a half hours driving home to face those decisions definitely makes you focus.

About noon the following day we were faced with that decision. It had to be about Kubwa, not us. Listening to the vet, it made me realise how easy it can be to coerce emotional people one way or the other. He was excellent and there was no coercion but we were also clear of the right pathway.

For our patients, the decision may not be as final as the one we were making, but the similarities are there and it is important for us as professionals to think about them, especially in regard to consent. Emotional people can easily be swayed, and as trusted professionals, we must focus on the needs of the patient and not our needs. We can get caught up in whether we have enough time, what we think the patient thinks, and what we think the patient can or chooses to pay for. Our mood, our physical health and the attitudes of our team around us can also change how we discuss treatment options.

Some decisions are really hard, but if made with all the information available and with the right reasons at the centre, then the comfort that you have made the right decision will be easier to live with. 

About the Author:

Catherine Rutland

Catherine Rutland works as Head of Professional Services at Simplyhealth Professionals, and writes a monthly column for Dentistry.