How I Didn’t Serve My Auxiliary Team

03 Mar How I Didn’t Serve My Auxiliary Team



My friend’s quick shoulder surgery snowballed into a 6-week absence. She called me to help out. I re-arranged my schedule to be able to make it to her office once a week and help during this aggravating time for her. The first day went great—mostly crown seats and easy stuff.

Day two, of the next week, was not as easy. The schedule collapsed with an unanticipated emergency post and core right before lunch. I missed a couple of mandibular blocks, and one patient had to be referred to an endo specialist after never achieving complete anesthesia due to underlying infection discovered late in the game. Not exactly the day desired, but we all survived despite getting out late and infringing on our lunch hour. For me, I sacrifice myself for my patients— in any office. I will go over into my lunch mostly because there is not always a choice, but sometimes just because I feel like I should help a patient out.

As I have reflected back on this Day Two experience, I realize my mindset was flawed; it was flawed from the get go. I came into my friend’s practice with the mentality of please help me: I don’t know where anything is, or what materials I have to choose from, nor who any of these patients are or what they will expect of me. Instead, I should have entered with a serve mentality for her team: How can I serve them through their busy day—a day they will be fighting through without their known entity doctor. And, how can we serve each other as a team. Instead I made it about me.

It’s easy to get into that mode of having people serve us as doctors–or anyone in a senior leadership position. For me, there has always been a line between, “Please do this. That is what I hired you to do,” and “Let’s do this as a team for the benefit of the patient.” The first way plays upon my ego and my desire to have things my way. I am not pleased with that side of me; it’s not pretty. It’s a side I keep working on. I felt discouraged with myself for allowing it to surface again.

Most of us are pretty good at serving our patients and clients. Personally, I acknowledge my patients’ problems and pains more than I should at times, and, unfortunately, often at the expense of my team’s desires and needs. It’s our team that pays the price for our choices. Doing this occasionally is how dentistry works—there will always be the needy patient on a Friday night, or a child in pain right at the end of the day. But, done on a consistent basis leads to chronic fatigue syndrome in our auxiliary team members, and I don’t mean the literal syndrome, although I suppose it could. I mean it wears on them, and it’s not healthy to constantly miss lunch, leave late, or disregard their schedules.

I hope this serves as a reminder to you to serve your team as well as your patients. Just because we are the doctors, and senior leaders of the team, doesn’t mean it’s always about us. Thank you to the Northern Michigan team for reminding me.

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