Ruth Findlay shares her experiences of dealing with anxious patients, training other dental nurses and her advice for implementing, and increasing uptake of patient finance. On a personal note, she also shares a Kerouac-esque tale of youthful road-tripping in Greece…
What is the most challenging experience you faced while working in practice and how did you deal with it?
The most challenging was probably when I was a dental nurse dealing with nervous patients who could sometimes come across as agitated or even a little aggressive on occasions. Identifying that this behaviour was all due to their fear of the dentist meant that I could ensure that their appointments were early in the day so that they weren’t kept waiting and could be escorted straight into the surgery when they arrived at the practice. Empathy, reassurance and a lot of hand-holding also helped!
What has been your most memorable experience whilst working in a practice?
Working as a head nurse in a large, multi-surgery practice meant that I was responsible for training junior nurses to a level where they could run their own surgeries. My most memorable experiences came from building confidence in very young dental nurses with little or no previous experience and watching them blossom into capable nurses with a great sense of anticipation, which meant they and the clinicians they worked with were completely attuned.
What are the biggest issues facing practice teams today, and how can they deal with them?
I think the regulations and protocols which practices have to have in place and to abide by can sometimes be difficult to keep up-to-date with. Practice teams finding the time to discuss these and put them into practice can also be challenging.
Regular team meetings are vital to ensure everyone in the practice team is aware of protocols and procedures, as is accurate record-keeping. Social network groups for similar, like-minded team members can also help with information sharing, e.g. Practice Manager groups.
Within the Practice Plan Group, which Medenta is a part of, we have a wealth of experience for practices to tap into via our field teams, in-house marketing and events teams, customer support teams and websites.
What advice do you have for practices looking to implement patient finance?
The most important aspect is to make sure you are working with a company that knows the dental market well and is experienced. At Medenta, our field team and support team members have all passed their Introduction to Dentistry exams and therefore have a real understanding of what happens in a dental/orthodontic practice and can respond more empathetically to questions practices and patients might have.
Medenta was established as a patient finance broker in 2005 so we have lots of experience and have moved with the times to create a user-friendly application portal with in-built e-learning modules to ensure team members can offer patient credit facilities in a compliant, confident and consistent manner.
What advice do you have for practices who want to increase their patient finance applications?
You have to let patients know that spreading the cost is an option for them. If you don’t communicate this, patients may leave the practice without committing to a treatment plan due to affordability issues. Don’t let the opportunity to provide patients with the results they want pass by because of a lack of communication. If you need help, just ask us!
What three key business lessons have you learned from your time in dentistry?
- Listen, recap and respond to clients’/patients’ questions/concerns to show you understand their problems and can help them find a solution.
- Be memorable for all the right reasons! This will ensure that clients/patients will come back for more of your services.
- Do a bit more than is expected of you. This will help to earn trust and ensure that your clients/patients will think of you first when they have an issue that they need help with.
What do you enjoy most about working in dentistry?
The variety of people I meet and who I’ve formed close relationships with over the years. This includes clients and other professionals who provide products and services to the dental industry. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s true!
Tell us something that not many people know about you?
In my youth, I once travelled on holiday to Athens and back by road (and ferry) in a minibus and a car with 16 male and female friends. We took a week to get there, spent a week in Greece and spent a week on the return journey. We laughed all the way there and all the way back!
We slept in youth hostels, tents and once even in our sleeping bags on the ground in a roadside bus stop outside a village in Greece. We didn’t know it was a bus stop until we woke up to find a line of Greek citizens queuing for their morning commute to work – we got some very strange looks!