Serving Patients: The Real Reason I Became a Dental Office Manager

Cindy McCourt, MS, FAADOM. Text: Real-world insights from AADOM authors.

I have a passion for serving.

It took me years to learn and recognize this feeling, yet it was quite liberating to discover my “why” behind it all.

Having a servant’s heart is one key to my own happiness. We as managers interact with many people during the day, whether they are staff, dentists, vendors, or my favorite, our patients.

I love all the interactions; however, the patient is WHY I am here. For many patients, there is a great fear of getting help at the dental office.

As managers, we’ve all experienced those circumstances and the difficulties that go along with them. Asking how our patients are doing while we are busy entering the information into the chart or scanning at the same time does not allow them to reply with anything other than “I’m fine” or “not happy to be here”.

We seem to just laugh and move on as if us asking them was simply a time filler and we did not really want to know how they are. There are even some who seem rude and unfriendly upon entering the office, even when we share our brightest smile and most cheerful greeting when they walk through the front door.

The patient is then whisked off to the “back” where they are asked questions about what brought them in, get blood pressure readings, take x-rays, and review health questions. After this, they’re told to sit tight, wait a moment, and a doctor will be in.

One can only imagine what is going on in their mind and body by this point. I’ve witnessed some who are looking around as if to find a way to escape. These patients need our extra special care. Because my passion is to serve, I start out by simply looking for ways to care for them.

I like to sit down at a patient’s eye level, introduce myself, and with 100 percent of my attention on them, ask “how are you doing today?”

Sometimes it takes more than just one question to get more than a quick reply of “fine.” I like to explain what will occur over the next few minutes and what they can expect moving forward. Their body language starts to tell me they are relaxing.

I ask about past experiences, dental fears, and what we can do as their dental team to help make their visit more comfortable. Little acts like these involve serving your patient and go a long way into having them be life-timers in the practice.

These types of patients are forever grateful that we take a little bit of extra time and care for them. It thrills my heart every time I see a review about our practice that states two things, “they took time to explain things to me” and that we “were warm and caring”.

These types of reviews never get old and are the best compliments we could ever receive.

This is only one way to serve our patients, though there are many more.

Now when staff members ask me “why” I gave that patient a discount when they were clearly rude to everyone in the office, I simply reply that they needed to feel cared for.

Meet the Author

Cindy McCourt, MS, FAADOM wearing blue dress and pearl necklaces.

Cindy McCourt, FAADOM began her career in 1981 as a dental assistant and in 2021 celebrated 40 years in dentistry. She currently serves as the Practice Manager for Lake Highlands Dental, a private multi-specialty practice in Dallas, Texas.

Cindy holds a degree in Business and a master’s degree in Management. She was inducted as an AADOM Fellow in 2017. She received AADOM’s Practice Administrator of Distinction Award in 2017 and 2018, the Dental Practice of the Year Award from Dentrix in 2019.

Cindy will be inducted into the 2022 class of AADOM Masters. She has a passion for helping people and serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in foster care.

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