Today I overheard a conversation between the nurses and the hygienists. They were sipping away their coffee on a lunch break when one of the hygienists said
“Today I punished a patient for missing his previous appointment by playing Justin Bieber. But it didn’t go as planned because he said that it wasn’t really that bad even though he was a fan of classical music.”
The nurses laughed in amusement.
“It is actually unfair how the nurses are forced to listen music the dentist has chosen.” the hygienist continued.
“Yes, I have to listen to the folk songs every freaking day!” said one of the nurses.
“Mine at least listens to the radio but the channel is not something I would choose.” another nurse added.
“I know! And your dentist turns up the volume when there is a good song – in her opinion – and doesn’t turn the volume down when she talks to the patient. So she’s nearly shouting.”
Everyone laughs and nods their head in mutual understanding.
“One of my patients once told me that his previous dentist used to play Rammstein loud when drilling. And he was a nervous patient!” said the hygienist.
Everyone around the lunch table rolled their eyes and were laughing.
Something to Think About
What do you listen when you work?
Do you let the nurse decide or are you the exclusive DJ in the surgery?
Do you play music for the patient or for yourself?
Once upon time there was a young nurse Jane. She was hard working and liked by the dentists. One day Jane moved to another town and applied for two dental nurse’s posts. She was offered a job from both of them but she chose a dental practice of four dentists. She was allocated to work with a 30 year old dentist Anna.
Anna was pleasant in behaviour towards Jane. Using kind words and voice when talking to her. Jane was very happy to have found such a good workplace.
But then – and not very long after Jane had started working there – became a day when everything changed. Jane had done something to upset Anna. It was something that Anna found completely incomprehensible.
“You are not a very good nurse, are you?! Not half as good as your predecessor! She at least cleaned my windows!” Anna said with a raised voice.
Jane wasn’t sure how to react. She was in shock about this sudden change in Anna’s behaviour. What windows did she possibly mean?
“I don’t understand what you mean?” Jane said cautiously.
“You… What… You… Don’t understand?!” Anna gasped.
“MY windows of course. My windows at home!” She added and stormed out of the room.
Jane was standing still for a while holding the instruments she was organising. She didn’t know she was supposed to clean dentist’s private windows as well. And probably on her own time as working hours she spent in the practice. That’s not what she signed for.
From this day onwards Anna treated Jane like garbage. Shouting and swearing at her even in front of the patients. Jane felt humiliated and insecure. Should she leave? She didn’t want to as nurse’s jobs were hard to find. So she stayed and the thing that made it easier to put up with Anna’s bullying was the practice’s other dentists’ support to her. They told Anna off many times but it made no difference whatsoever.
One morning Jane came to work and was walking practice’s long corridor to her surgery. Just when she was reaching to open the door Anna came out. She was sitting on her chair and rolling it forwards with her feet.
“Odd.” thought Jane, “What a peculiar thing to do…”
She watched Anna and her transporter chair rolling to the other end of the corridor where the toilet was. In she went and so did the chair without Anna getting up. Her long white saggy uniform got stuck between the door and it went up and down as Anna tried to pull it in without opening the door. Jane was amused and was wondering if Anna has completely lost it. Probably has.
The bullying – and the chair rolling – carried on for the next 4 months but Jane put up with it and did her job as well as she could. But she did not clean Anna’s windows. Nor her home. That’s where she drew the line. She was a dental nurse, not a servant!
Jane had been working for Anna for almost six months when Anna one day – at the end of the day – said to Jane
“Your employment will be discontinued in a fortnight.”
Jane was caught by surprise and wasn’t able to say anything sensible to Anna. But perhaps the question mark over her head was so obvious that Anna continued with a blunt voice
“I am pregnant and my due date is in a month.”
Now Jane was even more surprised but suddenly it all made sense. The saggy uniform, rolling with the chair, mood swings… It wasn’t because Anna was a loony. She was pregnant which now was obvious!
Jane felt angry and helpless. There was nothing she could do but to find a new job. Should she have known it was a temporary post she would have chosen the other job she was offered.
The working relationship between these two ladies came to an end. Whenever Jane saw Anna in town with her baby and husband she never greeted Jane or made any gesture she knew her.
Today is the day of the retirement for Jane but she remembers Anna and her bullying like it was yesterday. Even 40 years was not enough to forget or forgive and she secretly feels satisfaction over the fact that Anna is in a care home suffering from the Alzheimer’s.
“Karma” She thought when she closed the door of her work place for the last time.
There was whispering behind the reception desk when I arrived to work. “Morning!” I said cheerfully and carried on downstairs to get changed to my uniform.
I was a dental student working as a trainee and was very happy that I was earning little extra on top of my student allowance. There wasn’t many dental practices who took in trainees on those days to work as nurses until they graduated.
I put the uniform on and went upstairs to the reception before setting up my surgery. There were two nurses and a receptionist still whispering as the reception was filling up with that morning’s first patients. I was a newbie but understood that something was going on. Something that made the nurses very annoyed. I heard a word Harry.
One word and I knew what was going on. Even though I had been working as a trainee only for a month, I knew almost all the secrets the practice had. Harry was a dentist and a partner of the practice which meant he had lots of freedom to decide how things were run. He was the one who paid our wages. Or to be precise, he made the money that paid our wages but it was the other partner of the practice, Sally who run the payroll. She had no dental education and dealt with all the finances of the practice.
Harry and Sally had been lovers on and off many years and had had this dental practice in the heart of the city for a long time. It was a very popular practice amongst celebrities who had extensive cosmetic treatment done by Harry. Veneers, crowns, implants… yes, implants as well even though he wasn’t an oral surgeon. He was a regular dentist who never attended any annual dental show case to revise. Worrying combination.
Now back to that one morning when Harry had once again done something to stir up feelings at the practice.
Harry had arrived to work drunk. Wasted. Pissed. Drunk as a skunk. And it wasn’t the first time. One would think that a dentist cannot work when drunk as they use various instruments that can cause serious damage to the patient, nurse and the dentist himself if used incorrectly. The drill for example, that is used for drilling through the enamel of your tooth – the high-pitched one – rotates up to 400 000 rpm. Imagine it in the hands of a drunkard. Scary as hell in my opinion.
Did Sally or Harry’s colleagues stop him from treating patients? No they didn’t. Neither did I but my excuse is that I was a newbie and didn’t have any say on anything really.
On this particular morning Harry was guided by his trusted nurse Tina from downstairs office which he shared with Sally to upstairs where the surgeries were. Half way up the stairs Tina realised that on her own she’s not able to prevent him from falling so she called help and another nurse came to her aid. Together they managed to steer Harry safely upstairs.
“Not that way!” I heard Tina whisper to Harry who was entering a wrong surgery. Tina pushed Harry from his shoulder to the direction of his surgery where the first patient was already in the dental chair with safety classes and a bib on. Tina sat Harry down to his chair and put a face mask on.
This is as much as I could see what was happening. The patient was treated and she left without complaints. So did the next one. No-one ever complained that the dentist was drunk. Didn’t they notice? They must have as the smell was obvious.
Why didn’t Tina say anything? She had worked with Harry for ages and had seen everything that is going on. How did she put up with this kind of behaviour and malpractice? I got an answer to this question couple of years later (already after I had left the practice) when I found out that Tina was Harry’s mistress. Love is blind, it sure is in many ways.
One day Tina was off sick and I was told to replace her as Harry’s nurse. I soon realised that the nurse was expected to do much more than what nurses normally do. And that was probably how Harry could carry on as he did. When Harry wasn’t able to do the treatment, Tina did it. Thankfully Harry realised that I wouldn’t be able to replace Tina fully. I wouldn’t use turbine (the high speed drill). So he was only hung over on the day when I was working with him. Phew!
What I saw that day, I never forget.
A 70 year-old man who had had two implants done to replace lower front teeth. The plan was to have an implant supported bridge done once the implants were fully integrated to the bone. He came in to complain odd feeling and appearance of the area where the implants were done.
The patient had a very low alveolar bone and the mucogingival junction was almost on top of the alveolar bone. The alveolar mucosa had probably pulled the area where the surgery was performed and opened up the incision. As a result the alveolar bone was exposed.
“Should it be like this?” the patient asked. “Well it shouldn’t!” I thought.
Harry examined the area quickly and slurred something vague. Then he sent the patient home until the next scheduled appointment. My eyes were as wide as saucers but of course Harry didn’t see them as he was out of the surgery already before the patient was.
A 50 something year old lady who had started a restorative treatment for her lower teeth. The plan was to restore the bite by two rather long bridge. The bridges were going to be cemented today.
Harry fitted the bridges. He had difficulties in getting them in place and he had to use a drill to file away some of the metal of the bridge. Eventually the bridges went in and the patient was asked to bite the teeth together only to notice she wasn’t able to. Only the very back teeth were in contact leaving the mouth quite open. Harry took the high speed drill and started to file away the ceramic.
He drilled off a large area of ceramic and part of the metal structure underneath. I wanted to close my eyes as he was destroying the beautifully shaped cusps of the bridge but then the mouth of the patient would have flooded. So I carried on watching this mad man’s way of cutting corners.
Once Harry was done, he cemented the bridges into their places.
“The bite does not feel right…” the patient said. “It will feel odd at first. It needs some getting used to.” Harry replied and left the surgery.
The patient left the practice with horrid looking bridges and bite that was not anywhere close being balanced.
I was in shock after that day. I knew this wasn’t going to be my future work place. Not a chance. And it wasn’t.
If you are interested to read more on the subject in another blog, visit here.