Best Practices

Dear DPC, What Happens When A Doctor says “I will be right there!”

Dear DPC Doctor,  

I talk to a lot of Doctors each week, those in and outside of DPC AND curious prospective patients inquiring about your style of medical office and the like. One question I ask them that comes up quite often is when I say to them ‘When was the last time you heard someone share a story about how great their last Doctor’s appointment or visit was?’

Usually, the answer is met with ‘Wow, I don’t really remember.’

Then, I share with them your stories and it boggles the senses.

Well, today, I want to honor another promise and share with you a story that happened to me (actually, my daughter) just last week and the unexpected fun my 4-year old experienced at her last dentist appointment. I think we can all learn something from the experience and see how it can apply in the practice of medicine, even in DPC, today.

For many of us, the last place we expect to find fun is the doctor’s office. Some folks you and I know right now will probably stop reading right here, offended at such a notion in healthcare.

My 4-year old daughter just last week had what I would call, unexpected fun at her dentist appointment.

Sadly, it was a cavity she had to have filled. When I returned home from the office she met me at the door with the biggest smile and showed me her recent beanie boo toy which she received from the dentist office. The pain from the dental cavity was a distant memory and the joyful effect and elation she experienced from her new $3 beanie boo now hours earlier is still lingering. We’re actually at day #9 now and she still won’t go to bed at night without it!

Now, that’s what we call unexpected fun, at a medical office.

You and I both know, the medical offices we frequent today are more closely associated with serious faces, tears, grimacing expressions and an odd, preferable awkward silence and the occasional outbursts of, “Sally? Sally? Oh! Sally, you can come back now and can you please fill this out?”

Fun has an uneasy and uncertain reputation in the healthcare world. If you’re having fun, then apparently you aren’t doing it right, you’re unprofessional and not experienced.

Now, we all know not all doctor’s offices are alike. Every Patient and every visit requires something different from you. Maybe instead of a toy for a 4-year old, it’s just a simple smile and ‘how was your morning?’ before you start listening to the litany of complaints the next patient will have. Maybe, it’s a walk down the hallway with a Patient to another room because the light shines better from the outside than in the current exam room they have been sitting in. It can and should be simple things that bring about those rare moments of what we call in DPC, unexpected fun.

I understand. The work of the Doctor is serious. Allow me for one moment to share the one conversation we had just this week with a Doctor who you’ll hear at our October Forum in Atlanta, that encourages her peers to avoid taking themselves too seriously. She believes the practice of medicine should be at times, fun. That fun should also have room to play, a respected and serious place in the world of medicine too! Like its cousin, humor, fun is disarming. It builds a connection with a Patient. It opens the Patient’s heart and mind in different ways. There’s a neuroscience behind it. We’ll talk more about that too this October! I think the world of healthcare could use more of both.

This summer, be sure to plan some time for your Patients and medical office to have some unexpected fun. Best of all, go into the community and gather there for a few minutes. Wear your nicely monogrammed, clean and unwrinkled medical office polo shirts and let your community see you having fun. It will be a great first impression.Have a great weekend!

~Michael, editor

The DPC Journal

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Categories: Best Practices

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