Reputation of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

An interesting article titled “Reputation of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in the UK:the patients’ perspective,” appears in the 2015 British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (vol. 53, pp. 321–325) and written by M. Abu -Serriah and et al. The article seeks to explore the reputation of oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS). The authors state

“One of these is the fact that professional reputations are gifted by salient stakeholders rather than being controlled directly by the professionals themselves, and an important group of stakeholders that has been reported (in publications on professions in medicine) to cause feelings of deprofessionalisation is made up of patients.”

In the U.K. the OMFS has shifted to a medical base. OMFS overlaps with other surgical specialties, such as plastic surgery, ear, nose, and throat (ENT), and dentistry. Patients and the public can be confused by the inconsistent use of names, since OMFS is sometimes referred to as oral surgery, oral and facial surgery, and oral and craniomaxillo-facial surgery. The authors conducted focus groups of 5 to 10 patients and lasting no more than 90 minutes to gain insights into their perception of OMFS. A total of 17 patients participated in such focus groups.

Some things pointed out in the focus groups include the matter of consistency. The scope of practice of OMFS is not always clear and the name of the specialty should be user friendly. The patients viewed OMFS being associated with dentistry as negative as they tended to think more highly of doctors. Several patients felt that coordination between OMFS and adminstrative and other medical groups influenced their perception of quality of care and reputation. In addition those in the focus group felt the internet can have an impact on the reputation of the profession and as such efforts to provide patients with high quality information should be explored.

The authors state

“We propose 2 potential strategies to manage reputation. The first, a “preventive” or “pre-emptive” approach, is designed to raise awareness. The second, a “reactive strategy”, is designed to deal with reputational and public relationship problems when they arise, and is perhaps the commonest approach currently adopted by medical organisations.”

The authors feel that reputation is increasingly important and are interested in improving the reputation of oral and maxillofacial surgery.

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