Why students should do Primespeak

An Interview with Dr Mohit Tolani. June 2016. 

How were you introduced to Prime Practice?

As the president of the ADSA, I was invited to attend Primespeak to see if it was something that was constructive to students.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I attended the course late in 2015…

What did you think?

The communication skills you learn at Primespeak allow you to capitalise on the clinical skills you learn at university. It gives you a systematic way to deliver messages to your patients and, importantly, your team so that you are able to build trust and develop relationships with patients.

At university, we only do one semester of communication skills in year 1. And then we start communicating with patients at the end of year 2. What this is lacking is any understanding of what the patient may actually be going through and a systematic way to deal with the person at the other end of the mouth you are treating.

Has anything changed with regards to your clinical communication?

Definitely has. I feel that personally as a final year student, there has been a great improvement with respect to how I talk to patients and what things I focus on so that it is more of a patient-centred dentistry environment…

It is one thing to say that I can do a fantastic clinical job and that I make a wonderful filling. It is quite another thing for the patient to understand what I am doing and trust that this is the right decision for them to maintain their oral health.

The notion of communication in clinical practice is the bridging of the gap between the clinical aspect and the outcomes. Given that most young clinicians want to be more outcome driven with respect to successful treatment regimes, the focus needs to be on the patient and their understanding of the treatment.

Do you think students should be doing Primespeak?

I definitely think that third to fifth year students should attend Primespeak Seminar. Primespeak provides practitioners with an insight into the different scenarios in patient-centred dentistry. And the sooner students get the hang of it, the quicker they can implement it and easier they can incorporate it into their dental education. Having a framework for communicating gives dentists the opportunity to really focus on the patient and their needs. It takes the pressure off the dentist and the patient and provides a map to fully guide you through the right way to communicate.

The university framework:

For students there are a lot of treatments to be done. Some are easy, some are difficult. At uni, you sit in a classroom, you do role plays and scenarios, but it focuses on what to say, what not to say etc. There is no methodology. There is no technique as each scenario is different. Over the two days of Primespeak, you get that methodology. Not scripts, but a system!

Primespeak maximises the limited time you have with the patient to deliver the right messages in simple words with realistic expectations. It is based on real-life scenarios and it has been proven to work.

It takes the pressure off the dentist and allows communication to come as a natural flow. The key is that in the first minutes of all clinical examinations, I am dedicated to a systematic flow.

In real life:

I actually use Primespeak whenever I am working with patients. I incorporated techniques when I was starting a complex root canal procedure last week. He subsequently asked for my number as he felt comfortable with me and wanted to follow me into practice. He liked how I was very succinct with the pros and cons of the different options and he selected the option that was the best for him in the long term. This is real... Explaining the consequences of what can happen presents a balanced picture, but also allows patients to remain in control of their own outcomes… It keeps the ball in their court. That is what I learnt from Primespeak.

Why do Primespeak?

In a nutshell, I really think it is worthwhile for students to get in there while there is such a massive student discount available. I have no doubt that the skills learnt will give me back returns for my entire dental career. I also think it is key to get these skills before they get stuck into bad communication habits. Getting rejected when presenting treatment can result in lower confidence and subsequently presenting sub-optimal treatment options which is not great for the patient or the dentist. I think students should learn the best communication skills so they can hit the ground running when they start practicing.


Prime Practice have been helping dentists and their teams to run successful practices for the last 20 years. Join the Prime Practice team at their next Primespeak Seminar to learn the communication skills to get your patients to accept optimal treatment presented ethically by you. 

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