Dentistry Courses: Meeting Your First Dental Patient
Most patients are naturally anxious when they go to see the Dentist, we aren’t the most liked of professions and it’s certainly not unusual to hear horror stories involving trips to the Dentist.
But, what happens when the Dentist is scared of their patient? This is certainly the case for me as next week I am meeting my first patient. Aware that this is one of the biggest hurdles in my Dentistry career, here are my top three tips on how to prepare.
1. Planning and Preparation
One of the key steps to feeling more relaxed on the day is to prepare and rehearse. Ensure that you arrive early to clinic in time to be able to check your patient’s notes, ask your tutor any questions and set up the equipment you need for your treatment.
This gives you time to recap any academic knowledge that might be useful and determine a plan of action with your clinical partner who will be acting as your nurse for the day. Being organised will allow you to focus on the patient and stop you from feeling rushed and overly anxious.
2. Focus on the Patient
Although you will be nervous treating your patient, it is important to keep their feelings and needs in mind. Focusing on how they are feeling will stop you from concentrating on your own nerves and build rapport. Gaining a patient’s trust will increase the chances that they will comply with oral hygiene instructions and any other treatment provided.
Equally, ensuring that your patient feels confident in your abilities will help to put them at ease, this doesn’t mean that you can’t ask your tutor questions just make sure that they are asked in the correct manner and not in a way that undermines your knowledge.
You’ll be working closely with your clinical partner throughout the management of your patient, they will act as your nurse during the consultation. Have a discussion with your partner beforehand to decide how you will conduct certain procedures and documentation such as charting. This will help the process to run smoothly and you will both feel more confident having run through it before. In line with this, it helps to have a systematic approach to different procedures, for example if you are carrying out an extra-oral examination carry it out in the same sequence each time. This will prevent you from forgetting things.
Overall, regardless of preparation you will always feel some degree of apprehension before meeting your very first patient. It is a hurdle that every dentist has to go through and it is a natural step in studying Dentistry. With this in mind, view it as a learning experience, focus on the patient and then build on your experiences the next time you see a patient.