This is a short paragraph that I wrote a few years back after a discussion with a hygienist about some calculus that she had found on a patient. The radiographs from the previous maintenance appointment showed calculus in the same area. The hygienist was complaining to me that her colleague wasn’t doing her job properly. After she presented her argument to me, I asked, “wouldn’t it be logical to believe that a patient builds up calculus in the same areas between each appointment? It could be either because of poor hygiene, anatomical variables or structural differences in the patient mouth.” “Isn’t it possible that the previous hygienist saw the calculus, cleaned it off and it formed in the same spot between then and now?” She admitted that “yes that was a possibility.” It got me thinking about the many barriers that we put up that impede teamwork and cooperation, and so I wrote this ideology.
The foundation of the team is laid in trust. Not only must you trust your teammates to do their job correctly, but you must trust them to stand by you and support you at all times. If a hygienist finds a ledge of calculus, or a doctor finds an open contact, the assumption by the person finding the mistake has to be that it was initially done by the other teammate to the best of their ability and the best as could be achieved on that patient at that time. That is to say that we trust our teammates to always do their best and in return they trust us to support them. This trust then allows us to maintain an open discussion of techniques, treatments and research to use as a basis for evidence based treatment options for our patients. We should be able to disagree with one another and not have our feelings hurt or feel rejected. This principle has to be grounded in a mature adult relationship within the team. We aren’t a group of gossiping waitresses, fragile ego-centric junior high schoolers or immature children. We are professionals. The term professional means a highly educated person, who enjoys considerable work autonomy, a comfortable salary, and who is usually involved in a creative and intellectually challenging occupation. Because of the personal and confidential nature of most professional services and the necessity to place a great deal of trust in them, most professionals are held to higher standards.