As a maximizer, I’m always tweaking processes to try to make things a little better. A few years back on the advice of a wise mentor, I made a small change to the last question I ask of patients in my Pre-Clinical Conversation. This change required a dramatic difference in how I view my “job” for patients.
A Powerful Pre-Clinical Conversation Question
For years, I thought I was so unique to finish my time in the consult room with the question: “Is there anything else I should know about you to take good care of you?” Patients genuinely seemed to appreciate that question. I felt great about the responses I got, almost always along the lines of, “Nobody has ever asked me these types of questions!”
A few years back, I was diving deeper on Locus of Control of Oral Health with my small growth group, The Sinking Stones. I was hoping to help my patients increase ownership of their condition and shift the “locus of control” from the doctor/expert (tell me what to do, when, and how) toward a true partnership (I can be the expert of the technical pieces, but you are the expert of you).
The elegance of this transfer relies on our ability to do so without the patient feeling abandoned and unguided. I was gently reminded by Dr. Rich Green that a small change to that question could help frame the relationship differently right off the bat.
My new question is: “Is there anything I should know about you to work well with you?” Rather than facilitating a dependent/top-down/expert doctor relationship, I now have a much better chance of a patient understanding how important it is for me to be in partnership with them.
I can look them in the eye and tell them my healthiest patients are those that view me as their partner. This is better than looking for “experts” to tell them when it is appropriate to take on a particular procedure or make a decision for them without knowing their temperament, circumstances, and objectives.
Though I love taking care of people, a change in those four words has allowed me to do so in a partnership according to the context of the patient’s life.