When Vijaya Cherukuri speaks about dentistry her eyes light up and a smile shows how enthusiastic she is about her profession. "I fell into dentistry," she tells me, "but very quickly realized I was well-suited for the career."
Her patients would agree. They comment on how at ease she makes them feel with her calm and soothing demeanor. She is "efficient and quick (with a) good bedside manner . . . (It) made for an enjoyable visit . . ." one reports.
Dr. Cherukuri adjusts her pose. We are sitting in the reception area of her family dental practice in comfortable overstuffed chairs. The room reminds me of home and I relax. There is even a "family photo" of her and her staff on one wall.
"My father told me," Dr. Cherukuri continues, "Grace and manners are the most precious gems a lady can wear.' I always keep that in mind." At the mention of her father, Dr. Cherukuri's eyes sparkle just a bit brighter and her smile deepens. "He is a man who has had ideas well beyond his time," she says.
His daughter has taken these words to heart. "He always told me, 'think independently.'" As a lifelong learner it is easy to see how Dr. Cherukuri uses those words in her practice daily. "When patients come in, I don't know what their previous experiences have been like, but I do know how I'd like to be treated if I was in pain or had discomfort."
Thinking this way has led Dr. Cherukuri's practice to be known for doing things out of the ordinary. One patient explained it like this, "I took my three and four year old kids to Dr. Cherukuri for their first dental exam, and both my husband and I left in amazement. Dr. Cherukuri and her friendly staff really do know what customer service is, and she is not joking when she says she limits her patient booking to a minimum on a daily basis. There was no overcrowding in the lobby, (just my family and I), and her way of speaking is so calm. I am definitely referring others to her."
Dr. Cherukuri explains how important she feels it is to make sure she and her team explain in detail, using visuals, about every step that is involved in treating root canals, placing crowns or implants and other procedures. "We want to give personal attention to every activity we do for our patients."
And then, Dr. Cherukuri mentions her father again. "He has spent his life trying to reduce his material possessions to zero. 'You can't take them with you, but generating goodwill, kindness and compassion will outlast your physical presence.'" Based on what her patients say, Dr. Vijaya Cherukuri has taken these words to heart, too.