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Patient Profiles and Parent Personalities

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Patient profiles (personalities) have not changed. Parent profiles are also the same even though we are having to do things very differently within our offices. We are simply seeing new expressions of the various patient and parent profiles since we re-opened our businesses. As we gain expertise in our PPE protocols, let’s do the same with these new expressions.

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9

4 Patient and Parent Profiles

I teach to 4 broad personalities based on the book, The Four Elements of Success, by Laurie Beth Jones. She speaks to Fire, Earth, Water, and Wind. Today, let’s have some fun and give the four types some names of common characters and their usual responses to our PPE protocols. The four are:

  • Karen – I don’t care. I’m coming in!
  • Sheldon – What, where, when, and how, exactly, will things happen?
  • Nellie – When can we see you…is it safe…tell me again?
  • Mr. Bean – Oh, there was a sign? Was that for me?


Oh, they’re coming in alright. Rules are more like guidelines for them and commandments for everyone else. “COVID Karen” may elect to follow them…but you can be sure they will be policing you.

This patient profile / parent personality tends to make the team most nervous and befuddled. Your Karen is also most likely to post about frustrations online. We must remember they want: OPTIONS and AUTHORITY.

We can provide controlled options (choices) and then pass the authority over to them with a question that allows them to choose. Here is what it could look like for a child’s appointment:

“Ms. Karen, while we are only having patients in for appointments, we can provide you a chair outside our door or we have one spot in our schedule for a present-parent visit. Which would you prefer?”

Yes, you may have to provide one non-conventional option for an extreme Karen…for those patient or parent profiles that are insistent. But better that than engage in a tussle that may result in an on-line rehash. You may have a “present-parent” visit right before or after lunch. Or you may have one clinical chair that has a defined parent standing area 6 feet away from your team.



It is for the Sheldon’s you need to have written, video, and any means possible, to explain the process. Step-by-step instructions are key. Have it on your website, on social media, a sign at your location, and a link in the appointment reminder to a video.

Sheldon represents the patient and parent profile that wants to know how it is all going to go down ahead of time. They wish to operate from a place of knowing. They want: DETAILS and TIME.

Have instructions and steps in all forms of communication ready at your fingertips. Provide access in multiple locations. Then when they ask, you can instantly provide the details they need. Doing so will help them have the details and time to process it so they can become a master of the new flow.


Nellie is nervous and truly missing the touchpoints with you. They are the ones who loved the interaction with you and without it become nervous and wishy-washy.

Because Nellie hasn’t had the social interactions of old, they get nervous about things. They lean to being nearly compulsive in their questions.

Nellie needs two primary things: DIRECTION and KINDNESS.

Nellie, like Sheldon, needs show and tell. But this version will all be centered around safety and what has been done to make them secure. Post it, blog on it, print it…reassure over and again that you are being safe.

This personality will also thrive on your use of video chats, follow-ups, and anything personalized about their child. Face-time, Loom, Zoom, or call them at the end of the appointment. Or use an all-in-one service such as MySmileAppoinment. They need it!

Mr. Bean

If you don’t know who Mr. Bean is, stop right now and go Google and YouTube him. I’ll wait.

Your Mr. Bean is not malicious, but they will not see your signs, heed your instructions, and truly not realize that the umpteenth visit is like the first one after we reopened.

What we need to remember about them is they need: ATTENTION and FLEXIBILITY.

Be happy to see them and gently redirect them. It may be by saying, “Oh, Mr. Bean, we are still having you wait in the parking lot while your child is seen. We miss seeing you. Would you like some water to take back outside?”

Simply smile and redirect. The “Mr. Bean” patient and parent profiles of your office love to be noticed.



Patient and parent profiles are the same, we are simply seeing new expressions of their personalities via our PPE protocols. Get to know the patterns and how to respond to them. They are still your key resource to tell others about your great work and care.

Finally, a word of caution, uphold the trust of your parents. This is imperative on your social media posts. Always, always, always have a mask (or shield) with your photos. The posting of “one picture” of your team lunch, celebration photo, or activity without those safety precautions breaks trust. Remember, Karen is still policing. Sheldon is befuddled by a break in protocol. Nellie will lose trust. And Mr. Bean will think it means the protocols were only for fun anyway. I want you to communicate excellence in each and every interaction