For many getting to the point of actually making that first appointment might take a while. Then when you are ready you have to go through through the office channels that are set in place. What happens when you finally decide to make an appointment, you get on the phone with the reception area and during your first time communications you experience someone that might not be friendly, caring or empathetic to your situation? Maybe they are rude or have a cold personality. sometimes you can sense a lot from just speaking to someone. Does that turn you off? Piss you off or change your mind? People say there is only one first impression, that is true in most situations but is it true in this one? You are putting your heart out there, new wounds are open and then you get someone on the phone that can change your mind in an instant. I called many fertility clinics to get a vibe on the phone and hung up on some for this very reason!
The first line of a friendly staff starts with the front end reception area. During the time you are cared for by the nurses and the Doctor's. Everyone you interact with will be "your people" those that you speak to often. Think about it - you make an appointment with a practice where you had not such a pleasant experience while on the phone, now you have to wonder if you ever had an urgent question, an emergency or just needed to reach a nurse or Doctor - how will you feel when a not so pleasant person is on the other line not giving you their undivided attention?
Most times the Doctor's or nurses might not realize the actions of their administrative staff because they are so busy and they have complete confidence in their staff. I think this goes for many businesses. Upper management and those in charge must be aware of all employees to uphold their reputation. In the field of reproductive medicine I feel that the entire staff is equally important. From answering a phone, to making an appointment, to drawing blood all the way up to the Doctor's - a caring approach should be the utmost importance of the practice. You don't want patients to be turned away from an attitude that a patient received on the phone. Patients are under enough stress and the last thing they need is a bad experience on the phone. Doctor's should be aware of the actions of their staff and how they handle the patients. It is so important! All your patients experiences should be your main concern as it reflects on you as a practice. The patients experience starts from the first phone call then the Doctor's take over to make that patient feel like they are in good hands and in a safe place.
There have been many situations that I was put to the test with other Doctor's offices. In one instance I was so sick and needed to see my regular medical doctor immediately. When I called the doctor's office the receptionist said, "We have no appointments today, but you can come in next week. Really, how sick are you anyway?" Amazing, she left me with my mouth open and with steam coming out of my ears. I immediately called another Doctor and they made arrangements to see me that day. If she would have worded herself differently or maybe said, "Let me see what I can do.' - it might have made me feel better. In another instance I made an annual physical appointment over a month ago and on the day of the appointment I received a call where they canceled my appointment. This was because one of their Doctors was out sick. I was prepared for an appointment where I was fasting for blood to be taken and then since that Doctor was out they had no appointments until next month. The words of the receptionist with a snarky attitude, "Well, what would you like me to do, you tell me and I will do it!" Really, your practice has two other doctors in the practice, one of them can't see me is what I thought and said out loud.
Then there are the positive experiences that shine for me. The receptionist made sure my son had toys to play with while I was in with my OB/Gyn. They were friendly, pleasant and cared about my experience. The Doctor took their time with me, answering all my questions and concerns, suggesting some additional information along the way as I heard the receptionist through the door having a conversation about video games with my son. Sometimes its the little things that help you grow confidence knowing you are in good hands and can feel safe opening up with the staff.
With infertility nobody wants to put everything out there but the reality is if we don't it might not help us in our treatment. We need that feeling of comfort, safety and warmth so that we can be less stressed about going into the Doctor's office. We can only hope that we won't be "a regular" and be released to our OB/Gyn after a few months time but sometimes that is not the case. In most cases you build a great relationship with the staff, doctor's and nurses that you feel like their you second family trying to assist in growing your family. Fertility practices should make you feel like one big happy family!
I would love to hear patients comments on their experiences and if you can relate to this, please comment below. Also, if you are a Doctor or a nurse I would love for you to share your comments on how you might monitor your staff's performance or if you ever ran into this at your practice.