Throughout my dental hygiene, dental school, and residency programs, I was blessed to have exceptional instructors and role models. All of them encouraged me, believed in me, and most importantly, impressed upon me the importance of lifelong learning. Many of them recommended Pankey, telling me to go there as soon as I could.
A Journey to Deeper Patient Relationships
That journey began in 1994. I will never forget sitting in Dr. Irwin Becker’s philosophy class as he talked about the Crosses of Dentistry. He discussed “Knowing Your Patient” and I remember becoming very emotional.
As a young hygienist, it would bother me when I would see a re-care patient and not remember what we talked about the previous time. I started jotting things down on index cards about each patient and keeping them in a private file. Not the things you would typically see in chart notes, but personal things they felt comfortable sharing.
Each time they came in, I would refer to the personal card file and refresh my memory as to where we left off. There was no way I would have been able to remember all those special discussions, so I had to write them down. Each time they came in, the next chapter began.
I also started sharing more information about myself. I found the more I shared, the deeper the conversations went. I really wanted to know my patients on a much deeper level and that is what happened over time.
When I came back to the Pankey Institute for the second continuum, I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by name by Dr. Ernie Anderson, one of the course instructors, as I stepped into the elevator of the condos. Obviously, he had taken time to look at the roster to see who was in the class and that was very impactful. The kindness, thoughtfulness, and encouragement shown to me at the Institute were instrumental in demonstrating how I wanted to make my patients feel during my care.
Time spent getting to know my patients has resulted in lifelong relationships. Of all the things I’ve learned, this is one of the most important keys to a meaningful and enjoyable career.