What My Doctor Can Learn from My Dentist

I truly fear and dread going to the dentist. Despite that, I find myself more engaged and empowered in my dental care experience than at my traditional medical doctor’s office. Let me set the scene:

My doctor’s office is in the suburbs next to a satellite hospital, while my dentist operates in a professional building near a large city medical center. Similar settings, but once you step inside, the differences are immediately noticeable.

When I walk into my doctor’s office, I am greeted by:

  • Florescent lighting
  • Antiseptic smells
  • A children’s play area showing an animated feature
  • A section for adults with magazines and national news blaring
  • An ominous sliding glass panel that divides waiting patients from front office staff

Conversely, when I walk into my dentist’s office, here’s my experience:

  • Low lighting like a spa
  • A single wall-mounted TV displaying a slide show of families, dogs and serene local scenes
  • Calm, cool music; no drills, suction, or shouting TVs
  • One front office staff member in the waiting area like a concierge
  • No other waiting patients

My dentist explained to me his setup is purposeful: loud TVs, scattered magazines, and waiting increases anxiety. So why bother with these “amenities”?  Brilliant! And now, I’m an engaged patient.  I want to come back even though I’d rather do almost anything than sit in that dental chair.

During the dental visit, I am provided a blanket, clear instructions, asked about my comfort, and an option to listen to music. When I need additional services beyond the standard check-up, I learn…

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