Kiran Rapal, DDS

My Life Lessons

My son recently went through knee surgery at Kaiser and there is no bigger test of faith as putting my child in the hands of another professional. The lessons that I learnt during the two weeks of his diagnosis and surgery were monumental. As Simon Sinek says, “Start with your Why” – I, definitely reaffirmed and grounded myself in my “WHY”

Starting with this sudden and quite shocking knee injury, I found myself at the Specialist’s office discussing his MRI, not very many questions asked, no diagnosis given and not even a follow up phone call. When I expressed frustration regarding follow up, the specialist at this Kaiser location responded quite arrogantly as if he was being asked to do something outside of his duties.
Another meeting with a second surgeon was again at Kaiser but different facility. He was the one to actually operate on my son. He answered my questions very patiently. All the staff at this facility were very reassuring and supportive. This was absolute team-work and it did not take much for me to trust that my son was in good hands. I walked away knowing that everything will be ok and that I can let go and Trust.\nThe surgery went remarkable and so has the recovery. I owe this in part to the skilled and supportive team at Kaiser and mainly to the skill of this surgeon. This experience brought forth some deep awareness in several aspects of my own work as a healthcare professional.


First and foremost – Hire the Right Team. 

A team that has synergy and will instill confidence. One of the noticeable things during my meeting with the surgeon was that his team was cheerful, reassuring and supportive. Their interactions with us brought forth trust and comfort. All the information provided was detailed and thorough. We were given all information regarding who to contact and where to go in case we had questions.


Secondly – Expect Excellence

It seems like we as Professionals are settling more and more into passive roles as far as expectations. Why not expect excellence and encourage a Growth Mindset? And allow the team members to Aspire to a new level. As a patient, I really appreciated how fluidly this team moved and empathized with their patients. I’d much rather see a Doctor who has Higher expectations of their team and inspires them to work towards a unified vision of patient care.


Last but not least – My own Epiphany

This was probably the biggest awareness and an “aha” moment for me. My child was in someone else’s hands and I hoped and prayed that the surgeon and his team were the best that they could be. My heartfelt prayer went out for everyone who was undergoing any surgery that day. I understood the trust that my patients have in me. When someone expresses their extreme fear of dentists and needles – it really exists and is very real for them. It is an important aspect of my job as their dentist to understand, acknowledge and empathize with my patients. It is important that my patients clearly understand their treatment. Just as in one of my presentations, my patient commented, “well, I don’t know what I am looking at because I don’t know what is normal and what needs to be fixed”. This was another “aha” moment. How important it is that my patients understand the normal from the abnormal. Their questions are significant and clarity regarding procedures will help relieve their anxiety.


Needless to say – I had just been familiarized with my “WHY”. I know now WHY I drive my team so hard, to think Exceptional, to perform Higher and treat every single patient with compassion and empathy. There is no room for mediocrity – definitely not in my office and not with my team! I was overcome with a sense of Gratitude – not just for this deep awareness but also for my relentless drive towards excellence, my over-ambitious self that I have judged so harshly in the past and last but not the least – believing that all of us are capable of so much more. I want to be the leader who helps them achieve more, think more and do more so that at the end of our day as we walk out the door – it is with a sense of deep fulfillment and an answer to our “WHY”, a deep desire to come back yet another day to do the same thing again and with the same passion to elevate, to aspire and to reach for the stars.