The Power of Listening in a Pre-Clinical Interview

March 5, 2018 Pankey Gram

A key tenant of Pankey philosophy is to know your patient before you treat them. It’s one of the most important lessons learned in our Essentials 1 course, Aesthetic & Functional Treatment Planning You begin to develop a self-awareness that you can cultivate throughout your professional life.

The concept of ‘knowing’ is worthy of much exploration, especially because what counts as knowing your patient is subjective to each individual. It’s about more than simply gathering data on their past dental history and current concerns in a pre-clinical interview.

To know your patient, you must be fully present with them. Then you must listen, truly listen. It’s difficult to remain quiet as your mind jumps from different solutions and possibilities to potential responses. That’s what makes listening a skill worth cultivating.

How to Listen More Effectively in a Pre-Clinical Interview

Start by taking stock of the moment before you even enter the room and acknowledge the patient. Pause. Evaluate your own mental space. Become curious about the unique individual who seeks your guidance and expertise.

Once you’ve transitioned to the interview, remind yourself that the patient should be doing 80% of the talking. It requires practice to stifle the urge to interrupt or re-direct, especially if you’re naturally talkative. On the other hand, during extremely busy days it can be a relief to settle back and focus on someone else’s thoughts.

Create a More Comfortable Environment for the Patient

One thing that helps you begin to know your patient is creating the right environment. Focus on them exclusively so that in the moment they genuinely feel like the most important person in the world. Hold eye contact, but also learn to take conversational cues from the patient. If they seem reticent, give them the space and freedom to be at ease.

During the interview process, ask open-ended questions capable of uncovering their values around health, fears or anxieties, and more. By providing them with answers to their questions and listening closely, you are already performing a service that is likely a rare experience in their daily life.

How do you cultivate understanding and trust in your pre-clinical interviews? Share your tips or advice with the Pankey community! 

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