A few decades ago, the traditional holiday greeting was “Merry Christmas.” However, in today’s more enlightened climate, most of us want to be sensitive to the fact that our country is more diverse than ever before. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, while Christianity remains the most prominent religion in the United States, non-Christian beliefs and those who don’t identify with a religion are growing segments of the population. Good practice management would dictate being aware of your patients’ interests as well as your staff’s. So in this age of political correctness as a form of good customer service, how do you address this sticky situation without risking offense to your patients or compromising your beliefs?
Your Practice is Your Business
How you decorate your home reflects your personal beliefs and style. Your practice, though, is a business that’s open to people of differing beliefs. Showing sensitivity to that helps to build your patients’ confidence in you and enhances their loyalty. When patients feel that you respect them, they are also more likely to refer their friends and family members to your practice.
Holiday Practice Management Rule of Thumb
It’s fun to decorate the office for the holidays. Symbols of the season can be found everywhere, so it may be tempting just to go with what’s meaningful and familiar to you. The best rule of thumb is to be aware of who your patients are and try not to exclude them. While the holiday season is filled with all kinds of symbols, not all of them are religious. There are many options for elegant, colorful decorations that remain secular in nature. Snowflakes and snowmen are very popular, even if your part of the country sees little or no snow. Candy canes or peppermint sticks are less overtly religious than Christmas trees and manger sets.
Instead of the traditional cookies and candies on display, consider colorful bowls of fruit. It’s a healthier option, something your practice surely supports, and it avoids an accidentally uncomfortable situation. It’s also a good idea to recommend to staff that they keep their personal decorations or holiday-themed clothing to a minimum. Sensitivity and inclusivity are the watchwords of the season.
Celebrating the Diversity of the Season
Taking a little time to familiarize yourself and your staff with the various holidays being celebrated at this time of year will go a long way toward great practice management techniques that build solid relationships with your patients of different faiths. Using the representative colors of each holiday in some way in your office is a strong statement of understanding and acceptance of your patients whose faith you are acknowledging. You can use a diversity calendar (you can find an example here), that can provide you and your staff with a year-round understanding of the unique holidays celebrated by your patients.
Even if you live in a fairly homogeneous area, you might be surprised to find that some of your patients hold different beliefs and celebrate different holidays. Assuming everyone is exactly the same will eventually lead to a patient looking elsewhere for their care. Attrition due to insensitivity shouldn’t be a benchmark of your practice.
It doesn’t take much to be accommodating to your patients. With a little planning, a little open-mindedness, a little creativity, and good practice management, you can celebrate the holiday season with all of your patients and continue building long-term relationships with them.
For more information on practice management techniques, click here!