Saint Peter had a terrible cold, so he asked Jesus if he could have the day off to go to the doctor.

Jesus said, “Sure, I’ll watch the Pearly Gates for you.” It was a slow day and at the end of the day an old man with white hair approached the gates.

“May I enter the Kingdom of Heaven?”

Jesus replied, “We’d love to have you, but tell me what you’ve done to earn your space here among the good?”

“I am but a simple carpenter, however my son was very special. I raised him to be a carpenter too, but a miraculous transformation came over him and to this day

all love him.”

Jesus smiled and jumped up, “Father!”

The old man opened his arms, “Pinocchio!”


Never discuss controversial issues. Diversity of thought is not conducive to endearing relationships with your patients. Your position as a doctor provides a soapbox you should avoid mounting. While it may be tempting to proselytize and persuade, you will offend more than you convert.

If a patient asks your opinion on any hot-button issue, tell them you never discuss politics or religion. Even if you know and agree with their political views, a patient in the next room (who’s vehemently opposed to your beliefs) could overhear your conversation and find a new practitioner.

Since most people will not take the advice of the last two paragraphs, they should at least be armed with the proper rules of engagement when they venture into deep waters. While it is best to avoid discussing politics and religion, if you know where and when to discuss such taboo things you can develop some strong bonds with certain patients. The trick to where and when really comes down to with whom and what you should discuss. There is nothing more binding than to know that the other person embraces your politics or religion. There is also nothing more divisive that knowing you disagree with the other person’s politics or religion. This means you have to know what the other person believes before you speak or you will get into trouble. If you don’t know your patients, don’t get started on controversial issues.

Here is an example of how it works. Whenever you treat law enforcement people, discuss how weak we are on crime, how the cops’ hands are being tied, and how lawyers are screwing up everything. Of course when treating convicts, discuss the excesses of police brutality, how the death penalty is not a deterrent, and how mandatory sentences are just not fair to the criminal class. You get the idea.

Conversation is rarely about politics and religion. More often your patients will enjoy conversation regarding everyday things you may have in common. If you treat many hunters, they will love your hunting stories and feel a particular closeness. Golf conversation is contagious between golfers. If your patient is wearing a Greenpeace button, sure, go ahead and tell them about how you bombed a fishing boat to protect the dolphins; it can’t hurt.

Most small communities are rather homogenous. Quite often, everyone in a small town belongs to the same house of worship, and they maintain memberships in the same clubs. This affords you the opportunity to have common beliefs, goals, and aspirations. If you know your people, you can discuss anything as long as you agree with them.

• Gabriela Delgado (2020/10/07 06:08)
It\\\'s a really difficult time to scape from that politic\\\'s conversation but it is also the worst time to engage in it... Truth is everyone has an opinion base on the life they have lived and even though it is difficult to understand probably at each situation each one of the parts are right. I heard something I couldn\\\'t agree more with and it is that it is true, we are all on the same water but some are in yatch, others in a boat and others are swimming trying to survive... So, how do we expect not to get into conflict in such a delicate topic? We might get lucky from time to time but we can also have a patient leave a room because of the disagreement. Trying to change someone\\\'s point of view could be difficult or even perceived as disrespectful. As for religion there\\\'s nothing there to argue, everyone is free to believe in what they want and having a discussion on this topic most of the times is just not a good idea. You might think you will have similar thoughts and end up somehow offending the patient without even knowing... And, is it really worth it? Don\\\'t we know people get together? Probably that patient goes to a church and could recommend your services and since he didn\\\'t like the experience he would not only not come back but also tell the others not to go. On the other hand we have the pts who wants to evangelized you, I feel like it won\\\'t kill you just to say thanks, God bless you, let\\\'s get to work here... Key point for me is not engaging, make a excuse, and keep the day going!
• Jane Shin (2020/10/06 16:18)
In the current political climate, and as we get closer to election day, many people are itching to express their opinions. This is a good reminder to be mindful of the types of conversations we choose to engage in with our patients. It is also important to review this with staff and assistants. Oftentimes while the provider is focused on treatment, the assistant may want to talk to the provider about something they heard on the news (the news also tends to highlight extreme events and insert their own opinions along with it) or tell an inappropriate story, and we must remind our staff that although the patient cannot speak during dental treatment, they can still hear everything. We must all be mindful of what is said at the workplace-- even if it is not said directly to a person, someone can overhear it and find it offensive.
• Andrew Vo (2020/10/06 08:18)
I definitely agree with keeping conversations light and universal, especially in an open floor plan where others can overhear. I have had problems in the past with staff members that overly express their political views, luckily, as mentioned, the population in my previous environment was homogeneous and most people had the same views. I do think it is tough to judge someone\'s views based on a few aspects of their demographic and would be too tentative to dive into controversial topics on the assumption of their views.
• Craig C (2020/10/05 15:50)
In today\'s polarized times it is difficult to have these conversations with anyone you don\'t know well, especially people in a professional environment. I find it easier to avoid controversial topics completely in this setting because engaging generally requires making assumptions that may be incorrect and which may have consequences. I think it is more professional to limit conversation with patients to clinical issues and small-talk.

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