Taking care of yourself will also take care of your practice.
It’s no surprise that dentistry has one of the highest rates of professional career burnout. Between the physical and financial stress, it can cause a person to have a short-lived dental career if they don’t plan ahead and take charge of their lives. The dental industry is super competitive: there are typically a handful of dentists on every corner in suburban and urban areas, dental insurance is a constant challenge, and reimbursement rates are at an all-time low compared to inflation prices for supplies and payroll.
How can you enjoy your career as a dental professional and avoid burnout? Consider these simple tips and tricks to help you appreciate the original reasons why you started your dental career. You love helping people, making a stable financial living, and working with your hands. Now, focus on ways to make your life easier in the office that will translate to a more productive schedule and fulfilled personal life.
1. Delegate tasks.
You are only one person and, although you wear many hats as a dental owner, you need to delegate tasks to your team members. You (hopefully) hired the best of the best in administrative and clinical staff and you need to let them do what they do best. Letting go of the minutiae of day-to-day work will eliminate a good amount of stress in your office and stop you from experiencing burnout quickly.
2. Take a vacation.
Dentists probably spend more time at their office than at home. Plan your schedule ahead by carving out time for you and your family. Take a vacation away from the office. This could be a getaway to the beach or simply a stay-cation where you gather your thoughts and work on your mental health at home. Spending time away from your practice can give you clarity, keep burnout at bay, and motivate you when you return.
3. Practice what you preach.
We work hard to educate our patients on good oral health and taking care of their bodies. Well, we need to do the same. Educating others but neglecting your own health will do no one any good long-term. Watch what you eat, exercise, brush daily, and don’t forget even dentists need to go to the dentist to ensure optimal oral health. Taking care of yourself may seem insignificant but it can go a long way in avoiding burnout.
4. Invest in technology.
Dental technology is wonderful, but it is also expensive. Sometimes dentists skip out on advanced technology like CAD/CAM or Cone Beam technology. Information technology can be a costly investment, but it is also a great way to reduce administrative burdens and simplify patient care.
5. Seek professional help.
Dentistry is known to have a high career burnout due to the financial, mental, and physical stress. Sometimes it is worth seeking professional counseling to discuss your goals, fear, and feelings. It may help alleviate emotional stress and give you clarity on what you want from your dental career.
6. Get a side hustle.
Before dentistry, you probably had many hobbies or even a different career before becoming a dentist. It is common for dentists to use their hobbies as a passive income. Some sell health and beauty products while others become professional life counselors. Think about your strengths and how you can turn that into a lucrative side gig.
7. Add orthodontics.
There is no question orthodontics is a great way to bring more revenue into your practice with little investment or stress. It is also a great addition for your patients. Consider implementing orthodontics into your practice by taking a continuing education course like the Basic Straight Wire course with the American Orthodontic Society. It is an investment into your practice and gives you a long-term plan if you ever want to phase out traditional dentistry.
8. Communicate effectively.
You may not like the way a dental receptionist handles new patients or the way a hygienist sets up her operatory. Learn to communicate with your staff instead of keeping your feelings in or losing your cool. Hold weekly or quarterly team meetings so everyone is on the same page. Have a practice manual and have your staff sign it so they are aware of office protocols. Discuss confidential issues with a team member in private to be professional. When you communicate effectively with your staff, you will see an enormous change in their attitudes and less stress on you.
9. Take a management course.
Consider taking an in-person or online business or management course to learn how to efficiently run your office. Unfortunately these skills are not taught in dental school and you need to learn them on the job sometimes. It can take years to develop good management skills and habits, but you can accelerate this by learning proven ways to run an office.
10. Let things (and people) go.
Eliminate doctor burnout by learning to let things go. Sometimes you have to pick your battles with staff and even patients. It is natural for people to make mistakes and, while you want to train efficient staff, you cannot micromanage. You should also part ways with unmotivated employees or team members who cause a stress burden on the rest of your staff. With the right people in place, you will quickly notice how energized your team will feel because everyone has the same vision in your office and wants it to succeed.
Dentistry is a challenging career, but also very rewarding. You can avoid doctor burnout by taking time off, communicating with others, and working on your own mental health. When you invest in your practice, like adding orthodontics or taking a management course, your office will thrive and so will your quality of life.
To learn more about our popular orthodontics courses for pediatric and general dentists, check out one of the upcoming events below.