Have you ever noticed that if you hear someone calling your name you instantly look around to see who it is? It sounds obvious but your name is your identity.
When a new person comes into your practice it actually is YOU being assessed.
It is said that “people don’t recall WHAT you told them, they remember how you made them FEEL.” Getting their name right is the first step towards making these people FEEL like they are in the right place and in the hands of the right person.
Looking at their name on the new patient form and making sure you get it right as quickly as possible is critical to creating a connection with them. You have about 20 minutes to mispronounce their name as much as possible. This is around the same length of time as an initial new patient assessment. After that time should you continue to either mispronounce their name, or worse forget it and call them someone else’s, you are likely up the creek without a paddle in developing any lasting relationship with this person.
On entry into the room greet and confirm the person’s name.
“Hello Betty?”... Yes…
Clearly introduce yourself with your title whilst making eye contact and shaking hands. Stating your title and saying your name last gives the person a chance to get ready to take in your name. If you have a few syllable name (like mine) you'll often get people calling you the wrong name as you're name has been said before they were ready.
“Betty my name is Dr. Craig Foote, lovely to meet you.” (Probably best to use your own name!)
In these times of cultural diversity, the name may be uncommon to you.
If their name was for example say, “Shamu,” then take a moment and say it back to them.
“Shaa-Moo?” “Sham-oo?”…yes that’s it… keep going until you get it right.
Once you have this, continue with your own introduction but take a moment and write down their name phonetically (as it sounds to you) on their file.
“That’s such a lovely name, please excuse me while I write that down so I make sure I’m saying it correctly…”
If the name is quite complicated, often the patient will offer up an alternative name. Ask them what they prefer and go with it.
Now that you have got their name correct once, now you need to get it right several times.
Throughout the visit, if there is a chance to say their name, take it.
“Please turn you head to the right” becomes “Shamu, can I please get you to turn you head to the right?”
“Please stand Shamu”
“Can you bend forward Shamu…”
Now you need to remember their name. To do this, you will need to connect this person with someone from your own life. If their occupation was a cleaner, you may link them to a cleaner that you once knew from an old job. Or if they had a particularly unique trauma you may link them with someone else you once saw with a similar trauma. The rule is, if it is meaningful to you, you will remember.
Conclusion- make it meaningful.
Get their name right and they will likely get your name right as well. How else will they be able to refer to you?