To prepare myself mentally for starting my clinical supervising role in a few months I have been trying to think back to the the challenges I faced in dental school and how I might be able to help current students with those problems.
I remember early on in our clinical stages there were definitely times when I and my compatriots may have been about to get a patient in but with no real idea of what we were going to be doing. We would be so completely reliant on a supervisor telling us exactly what to do next.
One thing I have been considering over the past few days is the idea of setting objectives for any specific appt. I'm not talking about a treatment plan. Objectives are both more wide-reaching and more specific than a treatment plan. And I think it is important that your appt objectives should be concise and focused. So I like to try to keep it to 5 words or less. So as an example if you asked me my appt objectives for an exam I would reply with:
History, assess, investigations, diagnosis, discuss.
As long as all of those things are completed you can be fairly confident in your exam, but if any single item is missing, you haven't met your objectives and haven't done what the pt has asked of you.
And how about some objectives for a "toothache" appt? Probably a good foundation would be:
Remove pain, discuss future options.
One final example from me. Objectives for a filling appt may be:
Remove pathology, restore to function.
Keeping these objectives in mind really helps you focus on what you are doing for that particular pt. So if you are at any point supervised by me, don't be surprised if I ask you what your "5 word appt objectives" are before you get your patient in.
I would love to hear any more examples of 5 word objectives that you can think of.
Dr Chris Harper