Friday, November 4, 2011
"Come on back," Claudia says cheerily. I see a tall man in the reception area rise. Their conversation continues as they move toward one of Dr. Cherukuri's treatment rooms. "How are your boys?" she asks. The man's face lights up and he quickly fills her in.
Family is how Claudia came to be at Dr. Cherukuri's office. "It was meant to be," she tells me. "My mother and father-in-law were patients of Dr. Cherukuri's."
Claudia decided to go to school to become a dental assistant. After she finished her internship she worked for several years. "Then one day I found myself looking for a new position. I was hired by another office, but the morning I was to start my new job, I was rushed to the hospital and had an appendectomy. When I was finally ready to go back to work, the office that had hired me, no longer had a position available. My mother-in-law mentioned Dr. Cherukuri needed someone to cover a pregnancy leave. Well, I filled in during the maternity leave." Claudia shrugs. "That was nine years ago."
I watch as Claudia works to make her patient comfortable. Her easygoing manner makes all seem effortless while her soothing voice calms. "I originally thought I wanted to be an orthodontic assistant. I liked the idea of working closely with patients but independently. I'm fortunate that I found an office where I have a lot of autonomy."
Claudia also likes the pace at Dr. Cherukuri's. "We are not in a hurry to get patients in and out. You know in some offices it feels like you are a people-mover. Not here. Instead we have the ability to focus on each person and develop a relationship. That's why the patients become like family. It's all about the time we get to spend with them."
While Claudia has known Dr. Cherukuri for a number of years, she hasn't always worked there. "I've taken time off to have my own family, but I seem to always come back." Now with three children all very active in sports, Claudia has her hands full at home. "My weekends are spent watching baseball, basketball, football and soccer. My husband coaches baseball."
The procedure is over and the gentleman rises to leave. Claudia escorts him to the front and jokes with him a bit before she returns to clean the treatment room. "He's one of my favorite patients," she tells me. Claudia knows how to care for them all. "I want them to forget they are in a dental office. The best way to do that is to make sure all the attention is on them." It's an area where Claudia excels.