At my job we have a patient goal of 15 patients in 8.5 clinic hours. This is a seemingly unrealistic goal but somehow by the grace of baby Jesus we make our goal.
In spite of time constraints, I honestly believe that I provide great patient care. Patients graciously thank me for not only the treatment but the education they receive. We also have the liberty to provide services without a real concern of insurance since most of the patients are uninsured. If you could get preventative treatment for twenty dollars wouldn’t you consider coming more often? So in that respect my job does amazing things for the community but the patient load can be quite overwhelming for the providers.
One “exciting” situation or patient can really throw my usual 20 minutes behind into 40 minutes behind and put me in a position where I consider using scalers as lethal weapons. In an effort to prevent death by scaler suicide I normally review my schedule at the beginning of the day. I take note of the ages of my patients, when they were last seen and if I am really trying to show off, I will check when their last X-rays were taken.
These are everyday tasks in private practice but my schedule is like the breeze; you never know which way it is going to go but when it changes you surely feel it. Our patients are constantly shuffled between the three hygienists and new patients pop in the schedule without warning. Nevertheless I try to guess the tide for the day.
On this particular day I had a wide, guilty grin because I had a schedule full of patients born between 1999 and 2009. “A day of pediatric patients is just what I needed”, I thought to myself. I set up my tv with my favorite cartoon on Netflix and stocked up my bubble gum prophy paste and child side prophy cups. I was prepared to amp up my energy level and rest my wrists.
This day that held such promise, was filled with cute kids with grownup situations. Grownup situations are kids who are cute as a button but when they open their little mouths you have to use the same techniques that you use on the homeless man who had no access to a toothbrush, floss or a rinse. The difference is that the homeless man will graciously sit during the appointment but the kid is breakdancing in the chair and hopping up each time you pick up a different instrument. It can surely be a difficult task.
By the middle of the day, I began pleading for adult patients but they were nowhere to be found. I felt like the pastor at benediction time as I recited to myself, “Is there one? Will you come?”. I just needed one adult to break the curse of the grownup situations.
The streak of pediatric gingivitis cases ended at 10:00am the next day. My last grownup situation was a 13 year old black male. He was addicted to Listerine and allergic to flossing and brushing which simply dyed all his plaque blue. He was extremely intelligent and interested in his health. I showed him that the Listerine was staining his plaque and how to brush and floss properly and like magic the curse was broken.
Clouds parted and the sun came out at that moment and only normal kids and adults were on my schedule for the rest of the day. I learned once again to never judge a patient by their age and of course kids are gross that is why God made them so cute.