Are You Perfect?
After a long, hard day at the office, it is not uncommon to question one’s choice of profession. After all, performing dental treatment can be extremely stressful. We are working upside down and backwards in a small, wet, “cave” attached to fidgety, nervous people. Most of us are also trying to be “perfect” and supply perfect techniques and procedures under challenging circumstances and restricted time intervals. As a hygienist, I am somewhat driven. I know in my heart that I MUST get that last little smidgen of calculus removed from the distal of my patient’s maxillary left second molar, No Matter What!
It is not surprising that sometimes we may wonder if we would have been happier working in a business far removed from dealing with people. People are so unpredictable, demanding, and irritating! Don’t our patients understand that we are doing what we are doing for their benefit? Don’t they know that we are attempting to provide them with a perfect result?
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, is a common and sensible maxim, but one that dental professionals have a hard time accepting. My late husband, a general dentist, used to laughingly tell me, “Perfect is average.” No wonder we often feel stressed!
After more than twenty years as a dental hygienist, I have found a few ways to cope with worries about being perfect at work. Some of these ideas are also extremely helpful during trying times in my private life as well.
Get some exercise. Starting the morning with a brisk walk outside, or inside on a treadmill, can do wonders for your outlook on life. If mornings are too busy, get some exercise at the end of the day. Even if you are tired, walking for just 20 minutes can help you de-stress, calm down, and feel better emotionally.
Talk to friends. Even though our friends are likely fairly biased, talking things over with a good friend can make all the difference in the world to our mood. It’s not that we should expect a friend to “fix” things. It is just the act of speaking our minds and being heard without judgment that can help. Letting bad feelings fester and grow makes for an unhappy life. Talking things out can also help us see possible solutions to our problems.
Get organized. Look for ways to streamline your patients’ appointments. Make sure that your treatment day is not encumbered by a chaotic schedule in a disorganized operatory. Look for ways to make patient treatment better and easier. A new technique, a fresh take on explaining periodontal disease, or a set of new curettes can make a big difference. I always feel better when I have a brand new Gracey 13/14 in my hand.
Stay away from office gossip. Being embroiled in co-workers’ personal issues can be trouble. This one will tell that one what you said, and then that one will be mad at this one and YOU. It is one thing to be friendly and supportive of co-workers, and another to set up camp on one side of an office dispute. If a co-worker tells you something that you know should not be repeated - don’t repeat it! And avoid supplying comments of your own. Being non-committal is usually the best course of action. Say, “oh my” and move on.
Realize that co-workers may not react to events the way you do. One of the best exercises that McKenzie Management provides offices is a personality profile delineating distinct differences in the way human beings respond to their surroundings. It is not that there is a right or wrong way to approach situations. It is simply that individuals have reactions based on their personality traits. When we understand a little bit about ourselves and others, it makes it easier to work together effectively and without as much conflict.
Celebrate your successes. A compliment from a patient, an improved perio chart for an SRP case, or good results from a treatment plan are all causes for a personal celebration. No one else in the office has to pat you on the back. You know what you have been able to do. Be happy about it!
Learn from less than ideal results. Don’t give up - keep trying. Even if an outcome is not perfect, it is likely much better than when the patient first came to the office, and probably quite good in the scheme of things. Do better next time with what you discover today.
We know that we are not perfect, but we can try to always provide the best service we can under the best circumstances we can supply. Personal integrity and resisting complacency are traits our patients recognize and reward. And they can provide us with better work satisfaction and general peace of mind.
Carol Tekavec RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management. Carol can improve your hygiene department in just one day of training “in your office.” Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email email@example.com.
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