'You're from Montana, and you're not as good as my dentist in California'

Sometimes we just need to vent! "An older, spunky, 77-year-old woman just moved into the area and was in my office for a new-patient exam. She let me know right off the bat that even though Montana was beautiful, she didn’t think that the doctors here were 'up to snuff' with their knowledge like her doctors were in California. Well, nice to meet you, too, Mrs. Jones."

Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2018 01 18jan25bcednotet
Sometimes we just need to vent! "An older, spunky, 77-year-old woman just moved into the area and was in my office for a new-patient exam. She let me know right off the bat that even though Montana was beautiful, she didn’t think that the doctors here were 'up to snuff' with their knowledge like her doctors were in California. Well, nice to meet you, too, Mrs. Jones."

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Editor's note: This article first appeared in DE's Breakthrough Clinical with Stacey Simmons, DDS. Find out more about the clinical specialties newsletter created just for dentists, and subscribe here.


It’s another year, my friends! Where did the time go? There are no resolutions to be made on my end; as far as I’m concerned, you make each day count, regardless of a number on the calendar. That includes health and wellness, personal life, and being a dentist. With that said, let's help each other out this year, because let’s face it—dentistry is not black and white. There are things we can bat around when we are faced with dilemmas, weird scenarios, and SOMETIMES WE JUST NEED TO VENT!

So, let me start off by letting you in on a situation that recently took place in my office that left me with mixed feelings and wanting to just boot this patient out the door! An older, spunky, 77-year-old woman had just moved into the area and was in my office for a new-patient exam. She let me know right off the bat that even though Montana was beautiful, she didn’t think that the doctors here were “up to snuff” with their knowledge like her doctors were in California. Well, nice to meet you, too, Mrs. Jones.

As my assistant proceeded to gather medical information, this woman was combative and questioned everything.

“Why are you taking my blood pressure? Why do I need safety glasses? Why are you taking this big x-ray [panoramic]? That’s just stupid; my dentist back in California never did that, so I don’t think it’s necessary! Why don’t you just have my records transferred, because they will tell you everything you need to know about my teeth.”

Wow. Really? What I wanted to do was show her to the door, but I kept my cool and moved forward with the exam. Overall, nothing too exciting showed up except some advanced periodontal disease and questionable pathology on her panoramic radiograph. I discussed my concern with her regarding this unknown lesion and recommended follow-up. You know what she told me?

Well, the doctors here aren’t competent enough to address this so I’m going to go back to California to have it looked at and treated.

I informed her that geography does not a competent doctor make, but if she felt that going back to California was in her best interests, then I would encourage her to move forward with what worked best for her. She left and I have not seen or heard from her since.

Remember I said sometimes we just need to vent?

What frustrates me the most about this whole scenario is that the woman was prejudiced from the outset in her opinion of me as a competent clinical doctor just because I’m from Montana. I get it; I live in the “Wild West where we ride our horses to work every day and use outhouses because we don’t have running water ... blah blah.” The jokes are comical, but in reality, they're untrue. A dentist's/doctor's true skills and knowledge are not defined by geography but by how one practices, treats patients, keeps his or her skills and knowledge current, and tries to do better each day. That's the true measure of competency.

When the patient left, part of me thought, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out," and the other thought, “I sincerely hope you receive the care you need to be happy and healthy.”

Have you had any similar experiences? How did you handle the situation? If you'd like to share your experience, how you handled it, and what you learned from it, email me at DEbreakthrough@pennwell.com. Some of these responses might even make their way into a future issue of Breakthrough. Sometimes we just need to vent, but ultimately we are here to help each other.

In retrospect, this was a learning moment for both my staff and me. We realized that no matter what we do, there will always be those patients who are skeptical or who just plain hate our guts. On the flip side, however, I’ll submit that the smiles we create definitely outnumber the negatives, and those smiles are enough to keep me plugging away and loving what I do.

Cheers!

Staceysimmonsdds Small Signature

Stacey L. Simmons, DDS
Editorial Director, DE’s Breakthrough Clinical with Stacey Simmons, DDS


Editor's note: This article first appeared in DE's Breakthrough Clinical with Stacey Simmons, DDS. Find out more about the clinical specialties newsletter created just for dentists, and subscribe here.




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Staceylsimmonsdds 124x124Stacey L. Simmons, DDS, is in private practice in Hamilton, Montana. She is a graduate of Marquette University School of Dentistry. Dr. Simmons is a guest lecturer at the University of Montana in the Anatomy and Physiology Department. She is the editorial director of PennWell’s clinical dental specialties newsletter, DE’s Breakthrough Clinical with Stacey Simmons, DDS, and a contributing author for DentistryIQ, Perio-Implant Advisory, and Dental Economics. Dr. Simmons can be reached at ssimmonsdds@gmail.com.


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