BY JOANN R. GURENLIAN, RDH, PhD
It seems as though with the cold and snowy winter we have had this year that April could not have come any sooner. We need this spring more than ever. With the welcome change of season comes an opportunity to make some changes in our office setting. Just as you might do some spring cleaning in your home, take some time this month and think about a little spring cleaning in your office.
How long has it been since you really looked at your operatory? Do you have educational materials on display? How old are they? This might be the perfect time to take inventory of those brochures and pamphlets and discard the ones that are five or 10 years old. Think about the topics that are needed for the practice and decide if these materials are best suited for your patients. Determine if these brochures are culturally sensitive, in language that is readable, and convey messages that are evidence-based.
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Now, open the drawers to all your cabinets and think about what has been sitting for a while without being used. Do you need those items, or are they just taking up space? Is there some other useful product or instrument that could fill that space? Have you been thinking about purchasing a new device? Would this be a good time to investigate making that purchase? After all, there are several major national conferences that will occur in June (ADHA CLL) and July (RDH Under One Roof). Spring is the perfect time to start researching new products and materials that would benefit the office and your patients. You can attend the national conferences and take advantage of the discount offers at those meetings.
Next, locate the emergency kit for the practice. Dust it off, open it, and look at the expiration dates on the medications. Spring is the perfect time to refresh the items in the kit, as well as refreshing the staff about the protocols for emergency management. We can never be too prepared to manage a medical emergency.
Lastly, take a moment and dust off the cobwebs in your mental paradigm. Take a good look at yourself and ask what you need to feel refreshed and renewed. Do you need a little makeover - new scrubs, work shoes, gloves, and masks? Would attending a conference or a spa weekend help give you a lift? Remember that we all need to rejuvenate our mind and spirit on occasion, and deserve to spend a little time on ourselves. Challenging ourselves to take care of who we are and what we do is as important as taking care of our patients. When was the last time you invested in yourself?
I want to remind you that you cannot be a great health care provider, great spouse, great parent, great sibling, great daughter or son, or great anything else without taking care of yourself. If there is something special you wanted to do, for yourself, that would make you feel you were a better health care professional, what would that be and how would you get there?
Maybe you want to own a pair of loupes, start doing yoga, take a graduate course, get involved in a research study, learn how to use a new instrument that requires less sharpening, investigate an oral cancer screening device, or interview a dental hygienist who is an entrepreneur. Perhaps you have thought of doing one or more of these things but never seem to find the time to actually do them.
Make April be the month you commit to doing something new for yourself. Resolve that with spring you will invest in something for you because your renewal is as vital to the practice as anything else that you do on a daily basis. When you discard the dusty, old pamphlets, and clear out space in the cabinets for some new instruments and products, clear out some space in your mental cabinetry so you can revitalize the part of you that deserves a professional boost. Enjoy this beautiful spring season! RDH
JOANN R. GURENLIAN, RDH, PhD, is president of Gurenlian & Associates, and provides consulting services and continuing education programs to health-care providers. She is a professor and dental hygiene graduate program director at Idaho State University, and president of the International Federation of Dental Hygienists.