by Christopher Piehler

Christopher Piehler

If you happen to be a member of the Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists (or if you just love teeth and travel), you may very well be reading this at the PCSO meeting in Honolulu. If so, I would like to offer you a greeting both topical and tropical: “Aloha.”

“Aloha” is one of those magical words whose multiple meanings seem to contradict each other: Hawaiian conversationalists use it to say both “hello,” and “goodbye,” but that’s not all it means. According to my close personal advisors at Wikipedia, it can also be translated from Hawaiian to mean “affection, love, peace, compassion, and mercy.” And let’s not forget that it lends its name to its homeland, which is referred to as the “Aloha State.”

That’s a heavy conceptual load for a little five-letter word to bear, but here’s the thing: people get “aloha.” We hear it, we know it, we understand it. Maybe it’s the lilting sound of the word, or the way we have heard it sung in a litany of soothing tunes, but “aloha” conjures a place, a way of life, and an attitude toward newcomers that I’m sure many of us mainlanders would love to share.

The orthodontic connection here is twofold. First, it never hurts to remember how important it is to create an air of welcome. Your front desk may have a computer terminal or even a fingerprint scanner to help patients check in faster, but no technology can replace an actual human being, wearing an actual smile, who can make everyone who walks in your front door feel just a touch of affection, love, peace, compassion, and mercy. (Getting all five of these into one smile is a tall order, so I’d say pick any three and focus on those.)

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My second orthodontic point is a series of questions, really: Can you sum up the philosophy of your practice in one word? If so, what is it? And how can you use it to help guide yourself and your staff through the hassles and triumphs of a busy workday?

If you don’t have a one-word mantra for your practice, why not try to figure it out at your next staff meeting? Take suggestions from anyone who offers them, and chose the one that feels right. Then please let me know what it is, because here at OP, your words are always welcome.

Christopher Piehler