Give Back a Smile Volunteer FAQ's
Q: Since many of the survivors in this program are female and may have a fear of males because of their past, what can I do, as a male dentist, to insure the survivor feels like she is being treated in a safe place by a caring professional that wants nothing more than to offer assistance?
A: Treat a GBAS patient as you would treat any of your patients who may be nervous about a procedure with kindness and patience. I've had reports back from GBAS applicants who felt that their dentists, including office staff, treated them with respect and courtesy (as if they were cash-paying customers), and how much they appreciated not being made to feel like charity cases. The mere fact that you ask the question shows your sensitivity to the issue. I really don't believe that it is the fear of males that makes a survivor feel unsafe; I believe it is the fear of being mistreated and discounted.
Q: The GBAS patient assigned to me is consistently late for appointments (with no apology) or calls to cancel at the last minute. I know that this could disqualify the survivor, but I really want to help. Why does this happen and how can I handle this situation?
A: There may be many reasons why someone is late for appointments or cancels them at the last minute - it could be due to the trauma they experienced; they could be trying to sabotage themselves because they don't believe they deserve good things; they could be addicted to crisis; they may not trust anyone to actually do something positive for them; they are overwhelmed with life. I am sure there are as many reasons as there are participants.
To show respect for the GBAS participant as well as yourself, you may want to set boundaries during the initial consultation and then follow through with the consequences (you may even want to make this part of a written agreement between yourself and the participant). For example, let the participant know that if they are late for an appointment by a specific amount of time, you will consider the appointment cancelled without notice. Give the participant a deadline to cancel and reschedule the appointment or it will be considered cancelled without notice. Any appointments that are cancelled without notice will be reported and may jeopardize the participant's standing in the program.
However, be understanding and flexible if the participant contacts you in a timely manner and needs to reschedule. Participants may be trying to juggle a single-parent household, one or more jobs, school and other commitments with priority given to everyone but themselves. Respect for yourself and the participant does not have to be compromised by your compassion for others.