North Texas Dentistry Volume 8 Issue 3 2018 ISSUE 3 DE - Page 19

generational influences undergird every individual. Influences such as these are always changing and require dental profes- sionals to stay knowledgeable on these subjects. There are four main generations currently living – millennial, generation X, baby boomers, and the silent generation. Each generation looks quite different and has characteristics norma- tive to their specific generation label. practice rather than the care of the patient. The focus simply must remain on the patient. In other words, systems should be built on what patients want, need, and desire rather than on what is best for the dental practice, easiest for the team, and most comfortable for the doctor. Every decision and system should be created out of a desire for one thing – better service and results for the patient. Third, recognize the complexity of the individual while also rec- ognizing the essential requirement to connect with each indi- vidual. While the disconnected nature of the 21 st century can distract from this goal, connectedness is foundational to ensur- ing the long-term health of patients. Each individual is unique and is therefore complex. Each has their own genetic makeup, their own preferences, their own experiences, their own health history, and their own knowledge. The only way to discover these individual complexities is to connect. Moving out of the era of “doctor knows best” and into a patient-centric model requires rethinking every aspect of the patient experience. Connecting now requires extra effort and a willingness to chart into the uncomfortable waters of individually relating to another person. Connecting requires time. In order to relate to another individual, it is necessary to research and understand all of the factors that could be influencing the individual in the dental chair. In addition to the broad-spectrum research, con- necting also requires taking the time to listen and think on behalf of the patient. Each patient should represent his or her own challenging intricacies to the practicing dentist, and these challenges should inspire effort – effort to relate, connect, and provide customized care. Fourth, make time to understand the influences on patients. The individual subjective influences are absolutely important and should be factored into discussions. However, cultural and Millennials are those born starting in 1981 and continuing today. They are literally the future of all things right now, and it is important to consider their characteristics tendencies. It is important to evaluate both their strengths and their weak- nesses. Millennials are often called the “Me Generation” due to their self-focused tendencies. Two primary reasons explain this self-focus – parenting strategies and the digital age. During this parenting era, parents were encouraged to praise their children, criticize only when necessary, and ensure that children rarely, if ever, experienced disappointment. In addition, this genera- tion was born into the digital age where they post comments, videos, and creations on the Internet and receive immediate feedback in the way of likes, comments, and shares. However, this generation is also very optimistic and hopeful. They are the generation most prone to service in the community. They are quick to serve and to come to the aid of those in need or to be a voice for recipients of injustices. Millennials often exhibit a slow walk to adulthood and often live in their childhood home after their college experience. This is due in part to the economy and lack of jobs but is also due to their unwillingness to accept jobs not grand enough for them. They are always hopeful to find something better. As the largest generation living, it is critical to know the factors that influence and characterize them so that dental teams can better serve this population. | NORTH TEXAS DENTISTRY 19