During our clinical careers, most work hours trudge along in that low-production, uneventful kind of way; the clock ticks in the same, annoying drone when a prophylaxis is performed. You could have sworn you saw the same, greasy-looking hamburger and french fries cloud in the sky you observed yesterday during a failed attempt at sealant lecturing, and that grouchy, Irritable Bowel Syndrome patient you treated 6 months ago still refuses to purchase a power toothbrush.
These days are safe; predictable. Without a whisper of high-production excitement to unhinge the banality of those hours, we are denied the unexpected and out-of-body experience that is dental sales. I dare hold my exuberance back when I say those words for fear I may erupt with a fury of irrational giddiness. Hee-hee…
I wait. I wait in vain, for days, when I can give my all and open up the dental doors of productive seventh heaven. Then the days become months. The months may even turn into a year; I feel my superhero selling powers fading into non-credible obscurity.
So, in lieu of my manic cravings to sell dentistry to patients, (because the dentist wants me to) and to quell my thirst to eradicate boredom, I’m forced to let my imagination wander and hope for a rogue, banana-cream pie to explode in my face, a carrier-pigeon fly into my operatory with the answers on how to solve the country’s current economic issues; or even hope for more exploding things. We all have our vices- mine, unfortunately, happens to be laughing at anything and everything absurd.
But, then, the day finally came; I successfully sold dentistry to my patients! They accepted the treatment plans and so much more! I could, once again, hold my head up high, and feel my success within the mega-power of a free market.
My husband wasn’t home to share in a glass of champagne, but that’s OK. A toast: to me! Today was, to date, the most productive day of my career! If I was able to organize a ticker-tape parade just for myself I would, but I have tons of laundry to do so… I’m still amazing!
Allow me to recap the momentous day:
Patient #1: You didn’t think I would talk about braces, did you? You tried to explain your unemployment status to me when I mentioned your anterior crowding, and I simply stated how easy it would be to correct. You sneaky devil, you. Well, I can say, definitively, I rocked your malocclused world! $5000 payment upfront and bam! Oh, dear. My patient has a frowny face. I think I’m losing him. Reel it in, woman. I’ll bring him back to dental happiness.
“Your wife won’t be upset,” I said. “I mean, you’ll find a job soon. Once your orthodontia is completed you’ll be offered one job after the other. What employer wouldn’t want to hire a good-looking man such as yourself- and one with a pending, awesome smile?” My patient stirred a bit in his chair, but managed to turn his frown upside down.
“I have been wanting to do this for a long time. Thank you for talking with me about it.”
“My pleasure,” I said with a warm smile. Cha-CHING!
Patient #3: You know, it’s funny. I didn’t think power toothbrush production was lucrative, but, oh my, was I wrong. The holidays are right around the corner. Why wouldn’t this patient get one for each member of his immediate family? His holiday shopping is finished, electric plaque disruption at his house will be at its finest, and, because he purchased five of these little beauties, the dentist agreed to give him 3% off of his next whitening session! It’s only three-hundred dollars.
The patient seemed a bit concerned about something. I moved my chair in closer. “Is there anything else I can get for you?” I asked. “Well,” said the patient in an irritated voice, “I don’t think my mom will need this. She’s not well.” “I see,” I replied. “Is she home bound?” I asked. “She’s in the hospital,” said the patient.
“That’s alright,” I said kindly. “She can use the brush while she’s there!”
Patient #4: I was simply amazed at the utter rudeness of this woman. I had told her, time and time again, she was not complying with my oral hygiene instructions. I took into consideration her lack of funds and her terminated unemployment benefits, but, the truth is, she brought this upon herself. The dental boss-man gave me ‘that look’ and I knew instinctively what to do; I just hope what’s left of her insurance will cover all 10 sites of the antibiotic. The dentist said I should have placed more of the antibiotic in her mouth, but he seemed pleased I put her on two-month recare visits.
She better find work soon; our in-house periodontist needs some production.
Patient #7: What a nice man; so sweet and funny. Lovely person. I’m going to miss him. I hope he’ll be happy in his assisted living situation. He’s been a patient of the dentist’s for- twenty years or so? He seems quite depressed with the passing of his wife. Poor guy. I don’t understand why his adult children won’t take him in. He would be looked after, cared for twenty-four hours a day, and have someone to talk to.
His kids are so selfish. I told them the implants would only come out to a little less than $5000. The man is on a reverse mortgage, so it’s not like he’s still paying for his home. Jeesh. I don’t see why they won’t help him out financially. I’m sure this gentleman has some retirement funds left. I mean, come on. Give a little. We’ve been giving him free toothbrushes for over twenty years!
Oh, well. No worries. My lecture on the replacement of four of his failed amalgams to crowns seemed to have opened his family’s ears. At least this patient is leaving with a newer mouth- today! Woot! I do hope they told the front desk of my efforts. They should know who held the ‘magic wand’ here. Give credit where credit is due, people.
Patient # 8: Hmm. Her plaque was minimal. Her build-up was completely negligible. Her gingivae was pink, firm, and stippled. There wasn’t anything there! How boring- and how rude. The least she could do is refer some of her friends to the practice. Although, she did purchase three home whitening kits from me… at forty bucks a pack! Booyah! Wonder how long she’ll be on COBRA insurance?
Uh-oh. Looks like she wants to talk. “My insurance is going to end soon,” said the patient sheepishly. “I see,” I replied, nodding my head slowly. The patient continued. “There’s no way I’ll be able to afford the veneers on all those front front teeth,” she said.
I pushed back the patient’s armrest of her chair, and had her follow me to the treatment plan conference room. I handed her the ‘pamphlet of redemption’.
“This is a brochure on CareCredit. It’s fantastic. I’m sure you’ll be approved for the service. I’ll have the office manager come in and talk with you about it.”
“Oh, OK,” said the patient quietly.
How fabulous am I? I don’t know. Genius is difficult to measure.
Patient #11: Thank you. Thank you for accepting my recommendations for full mouth SRP, that implant with crown, and whitening, as well as your glowing compliments to the dentist about my professionalism. You’ve put a smile on my face.
“Will my insurance cover all of this?” asked the patient.
“Your insurance should cover some of it, yes,” I stated.
“Well, what part won’t it cover?” asked the patient in a suddenly testy voice.
“I believe your insurance won’t cover the implant,” I replied.
“That’s the most expensive part of all this! Where am I going to get the money for that? I can’t find a job,” replied the patient.
“I understand. I do. Let’s find out what we can offer you up at the front desk,” I said.
“Do you mean a discount?” asked the patient.
“You bet. I’m sure the dentist would be more than happy to offer you some help,” I replied kindly.
“Well, what kind of a discount would I be eligible for?” asked the patient.
“You know, I’m not sure. Business has been really slow due to the lingering recession, but I’ll inquire for you at the front desk,” I said quietly. My head spun like a metal top when I walked slowly to the reception desk. My internal dialogue went into a panic-stricken, paranoid plea of nervousness.
Please give her a discount. Please give her one. I’ll get my bonus for the implant if they give her a discount. I’m so hungry. I need money for lunch. If I don’t eat something soon I’m going to keel over in front of the doctor, then he’ll think I’m sick and start to wonder if I can keep up with thirty minute prophys and may want to get rid of me and find another hygienist younger and more fit who will be able to handle the schedule and sell more dentistry.
Please, please, please give her the discount…
Whew. This has been the best day ever! I am a goddess of dental persuasion and an inspiring team player. I am a glorious specimen of professionalism, kindness, and knowledge and only a few may stand in awe of my greatness. The dentist said I shouldn’t have offered that last patient a five percent discount on her implant, but he seemed pleased that she accepted the treatment. My superhero potency has returned full strength. I am devoid of all negative thoughts, and the force I have as a hygiene-selling-powerhouse is pulsing through my veins.
I. AM. INVINCIBLE.
Now… what will my $5.00 incentive check buy me for lunch today?
Beverly Hills Dentist Guy says
This is a great story about the fluctuations that go through the mind of a dental hygienist. I know from experience the exhilaration of patients accepting treatment and patients declining treatment.
Eva! I LOVE your article on “I am NOT my Job”!! I thought I was the only “so called “crazy hygienist that feels that way!! I feel exactly the same way and after 17 years of hygiene…I finally found that office that fits me…thank you for posting this and please let me know if you write a book because I will be the first in line to buy it!!!