Wednesday, April 08, 2020

We all know being a student is tough enough, but we sure don't want to make things harder on ourselves by avoiding to seize a brownie point anytime possible! While some, if not all, of these things may be common sense to most of us, sometimes it's good to be reminded.

1. Always introduce the patient to your faculty, or boss. Such as " Dr. Johnson, this is Mrs. Jones. Mrs. Jones this is Dr. Johnson, whom will be performing an examination today." Something brief and allows you to negotiate the ice breaker of dead silence that often arise.

2. Put gloves out on the counter (if you know the size) and have them ready to just be picked up. We've all seen a clinical instructor get frustrated in front of the patient trying to pull a glove out only to get slapped on the hand! And, no, it's not a good idea to lay the glove down with the fingers in the "I love you" shape, nor in the one finger salute state! I've worked with an assistant that got terminated for the later, and it's not worth it!  


3. Always, always, always and I repeat always - make sure the mirror is clean! I learned this very early on from an instructor whose biggest pet peeve was to pick up a mirror to see saliva streaks and other unknowns starring at her. Wipe it off with a remaining clean gauze sprayed with your water syringe. If you have trouble with your mirror fogging up due to having a mouth breather or other reasons - drop a few drops of mouthwash on a gauze and wipe your mirror. You'll be fog free for nearly the entire appointment!

4. Place your instruments back where they belong and only have the mirror and explorers out for ready access. You can do this as shown below by placing your empty instrument lid on top of all your instruments and make sure the mirror is on the left if the instructor uses the mirror on the left - this way they won't have to cross arms to pick up what they need. Also keep at least one piece of gauze out just in case they need to wipe the mirror, or perform an oral cancer exam.   

5. If the patient has a lot of carious lesions or other known chartable items, hold it up within an eyes glance for your instructor to view during their exam. This avoids the problem of them having to re-call everything out and risk the possibility of missing something that was already diagnosed. Such as having decay on the distal-lingual groove of #3 marked as decay, but the instructor checking you didn't notice it ... you don't want to make them look any less thorough to your patient by making the mistake of "Was there decay on the dlg of #3, because it was marked!"

6. If the patient bleed a lot, lay out more gauze on the tray.

7. If the instructor is taller or shorter than you, save them the trouble and adjust the chair higher or lower for them.

Other Patient Tips and Tricks

A) Always make sure the dental light is clean! This is often the first thing patients notice and you can make a bad first impression by leaning them back and have them starring at a streaky, dirty light. Wipe it with your Cavicide, ProSpray, etc and then wipe it dry with a paper towel.

B) Check your patient mirror, too. Another bad impression would be handing a mirror to a patient to perform oral hygiene instruction and have it streaky or past patients finger prints all over it!

C) I always feel it is rude and unprofessional to keep a gauze on the patients chest and use it to wipe instruments clean. Instead, hold one in the palm of your mirror hand and wipe them clean BEHIND or to the side of the patient - not in front of their face!

D) When removing the patient bib, do so by pulling on bib strap near their neck or shoulders. Never reach for the clip, as you may accidentally touch them in an uncomfortable place. This is especially important for males, such as myself, to not do anything to make the patient feel awkward.

E) Always place vaseline on the patients lips when using the air polisher, and while using disclosing solution. It will make the appointment more comfortable and they won't have to leave with permanent kool-aid lips!

F) If you are using foam fluoride and get an uneven distribution, and/or too much, close the tray together to ensure even coverage, and then take your saliva ejector and get rid of the excess. 

C) When someone is observing you treat a patient, and you need to change operator and light positions, ALWAYS make sure your instrument is out of the hand that you are moving the light with. You don't want to reach up there with an 11/12 explorer to change light positions and risk having it drop on the patient. Believe it or not, it has happened and will not result in a positive grade!

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