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You Never Know Who Is Sitting In Your Chair

Remember the time you walked into a treatment room and saw a middle-aged man who sat humbly during your evaluation. 

He was not dressed to impress. In fact, he was even a bit unkempt and disheveled. He was introverted and quiet. After your recommended a pair of orthotics, he actually wanted to purchase eight pairs so he did not have move one pair shoe to shoe. 

While casting, you had a moment to talk personally with this patient and found out he is a multi-millionaire who has not only accumulated significant wealth but has made a substantial global impact with his work. The more you spoke with him, you realized how intelligent and respected he is in the world.

Now what if you saw this unkempt patient and made a quick judgement based on his looks? Some might have expressed a more curt demeanor and not conducted as thorough or explanative of a consultation. Would that same patient then purchase those eight pairs of orthotics? 

Next, you see a 90-year-old male for routine care. Sure, we may not find providing routine care glamorous but if you stop to get to know your patient, you might learn a bit of history. This 90-year-old saw and experienced much in his lifetime. Taking a moment to talk and hear a patent share stories of living through World War II and escaping Germany can offer a break from the daily monotony of breezing through room to room. By developing a relationship with the patient, you not only learned a firsthand account of being in a war zone in the 1940s but later realize this person is also a published author on the New York Times best seller list. You also realize the gentleman has referred his children and other notable patients for your care.

The point is this … you never know who is sitting in your chair. 

Treating all patients the same irrespective of age, attire, skin color or whether they have special needs will not only make you a better, more compassionate doctor, it will ultimately be better for business. Practicing kindness without prejudgement can open more doors for business and networking than making assumptions about a person without knowing him or her. 

In my practice, I have found that the most humble, quiet and unassuming patients are usually the people willing to support your practice, and help you grow as a person and in business. 

When it comes to the patient who acts entitled and doesn’t treat your staff on the same level as you, try to be kind and patient as the patient may be going through internal stresses of his or her own. One may never understand another’s experience from the outside looking in. Taking a moment to dig a bit deeper will go a long way.

Dr. Jodi Schoenhaus is a Diplomate of the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery. She is in private practice in Boca Raton and Boynton Beach, Fla. One can follow Dr. Schoenhaus online at @bocafootandveindoc and

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