“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
For me, this phrase encapsulates the most important lesson I’ve learnt in 10 odd years of practicing as a dental surgeon. This principle has become the pillar of my dental practice.
When I first graduated from National University of Singapore in 2006, I viewed dentistry purely as a science. I was solely focused on the technical aspects, as such I spent a lot of time learning from the best dentists around the world, flying even as far as The United States of America in my quest for knowledge and upgrading myself. My role was that of a technician’s — to diagnose and solve. Gradually, I came to realize that as a dentist, caring for patients was also an art. Several arts, actually. I learnt the art of listening, intently, to what my patients wanted, feared, and hoped.
I practiced the art of communicating, explaining complex science to patients without technical jargon, while addressing their concerns. I learnt the art of caring, of how to ease the fears of dentophobic patients and how to encourage patients to develop oral hygiene habits at home that would stick. Most of all, I learnt the art of humility, when I realized that my medical knowledge alone did not make me a great dentist — putting my patients first did.
It is my hope that by combining both my technical skills and empathy for patients that I am able to do my best for my patients.
By Dr. Chew Yan Xu – B.D.S (Singapore)
Gold award for the Singhealth Quality Service Award 2022.
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