Catherine Rutland recounts a visit to a dental practice, and how its attitude and leadership created a positive team vibe.

One of the great joys of my role is visiting other people’s practices.

I can be going for all sorts of reasons and most of the time it is to see the dentists that work there.

However, what I have learned over the years is one of the biggest gauges of a practice is the morale of the staff.

I am cheeky (but I know others do it) and will purposely arrive early so I can just sit and watch.

You learn so much, from the patient interactions at reception to the attitude of the patients and the interactions between staff members.

I learned that by watching this I can predict the attitude and values of the dentist I am waiting to see fairly well.

If it is good, then I can sit and look forward to a positive meeting; if it’s not so good then I am, at least, prepared for a little more challenge.

Warm welcome

I recently attended a practice to speak at the local study group it runs.

After a very long day driving, the welcome I received was instantly uplifting.

It really shows how important that initial greeting is, whether you be a patient walking through the door or a visitor.

We must never underestimate it.

For a patient, it will most likely affect every conversation they have from then on.

They will be predisposed to be positive to you as the clinician and that is a really good place to start.

The positive welcome I received was also apparent in all the other staff I met – proud of where they work and passionate about what they do.

Even though I would be presenting for almost two hours on very dry subjects, I knew they would be well received.

Great teams come together through the positivity of their leader.

It doesn’t matter if it is the principal or practice manager, just as long as someone is clearly leading.

For me as a visitor, that attitude turned an evening where I could have felt drained and tired into a really warm and positive experience, feeling valued and appreciated.

I drove away certain this will be how they also treat their patients.

In a world where patient expectations are constantly rising, our teams are so critical.

Lead them well, value them, and it will make them and your patients happy.


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