Choose kindness – the importance of being kind in dentistry

Dr Alaa Ati discusses the importance of being kind in dentistry and why it lays the foundations for a flourishing careerDr Alaa Ati discusses the importance of being kind in dentistry and why it lays the foundations for a flourishing career.

‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind.’

Ever since I could remember, this quote always resonated within me. As a student when I started my dental degree in 2009, I knew I wanted to become a successful practitioner, and excel academically. But what I wanted even more, was to become a kind, caring practitioner who will make a difference.

Without a doubt the definition of success differs between individuals – be it the number of academic qualifications, personal achievements, the materialistic acquisitions or the hurdles we overcome in life. My personal definition of success is the ability to remain kind regardless of the situation you are in or where life takes you.

It takes strength and courage. It’s not always easy, but it is incredibly rewarding. No matter how small the act of kindness may be, it is never wasted. It will always make a difference.

I was fortunate enough to work in a variety of clinical settings and practices across the UK from the moment I graduated. Treating patients and interacting with dental teams from all walks of life and backgrounds was a valuable learning experience for me.

Going the extra mile

What I realised early on, was that clinical excellence was of substantial importance. But what was just as important (or even more so) was the ability to connect with and care for the patient in a way that truly made them feel special.

It was the ability to exercise kindness on a daily basis. This could be as simple as a smile, a listening ear, a friendly chat or going the extra mile to support someone.

I learnt that a patient won’t always remember the intricate details we create during their cosmetic makeovers (although those beautiful anatomical features are so important to us). But they will always remember how we made them feel. Being kind to someone will always make them feel better. One act of kindness could be enough to completely change their life.

Common denominator

Implementing kindness is not only essential when treating and caring for our patients. But it is central to the dynamic of the dental team. The dental environment can have great assets. But it can also come with its challenges.

I receive messages from colleagues often who share some of their struggles with me. In nearly all of these cases, the most common denominator that can lead to such problems is a lack of or absence of kindness.

Kindness can ease anxiety, reduce stress and boost feelings of happiness and optimism. This can help improve not only our own physical and mental health but also for those around us.

Demonstrating kindness allows you to feel more connected to others, which in turn improves the willingness to cooperate together. This can mean enhanced patient cooperation resulting in successful treatment outcomes and a more supportive team dynamic.

Passionate about growth

So can we remain kind and also become successful in our careers and our business? Absolutely.

As a cosmetic dentist, skin health expert and facial aesthetics practitioner, I can wholeheartedly say I am committed daily to fulfilling that promise I made to myself when I graduated seven years ago.

Since completing my dental degree, I have invested continuously in postgraduate education to provide the best I can for my patients. I am always passionate about continuous growth and learning.

However, I feel my greatest accomplishment is being able to stay true to myself by doing everything I can to be kind. After all, clinical excellence means nothing without kindness.

When you give out kindness to those around you, it will always come back to you (one way or another), and the benefits will be received both ways. Your patients’ and team will be happier, but most importantly, so will you.

Loyal patient base

Human connections will improve, cooperation will enhance and productivity will increase. This will create a stable, supportive framework that will be the foundation of a successful and harmonious team and business. It will also create a loyal patient base who value how much you truly care for them.

What’s my advice to colleagues starting out or to those more advanced in their careers? Always support and empower one another.

But don’t forget the most important act of all, always be kind. It will cost you nothing, but it will mean everything to you, and to those around you.

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