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How to Fix Your Burn-Out in Dentistry

Frustrated in DentistryA generally negative attitude.
Inability to concentrate.
Feelings of stagnation and frustration.
Short temper.
Constant exhaustion.
Frequent boredom. 

Do any of these describe you at work? If so, you might be headed down the dark path of (unnecessary) burn-out in your dental career.

Dr. Peter Dawson often says, “dentistry is the most exciting hobby in the world.” That might sound like a load of bologna, though, if you’re experiencing poor work/life balance, case failures, low treatment acceptance, high patient volume, low profitability and the list goes on.

Enjoying dentistry again can seem as impossible as climbing Mount Everest when you’re burned-out. So first, let me tell you that it isn’t as hard as it might seem right now. We know from years of teaching thousands upon thousands of dental professionals that a career in dentistry doesn’t have to be full of frustration, exhaustion, boredom or stagnation. And it doesn’t have to be a difficult path to loving dentistry again.

But, where do you start?

Make sure you are taking care of yourself.

I was talking with one of our senior faculty members, Dr. Kim Daxon, recently and she reminded me that you can’t take care of anyone – whether it is your pet, family or patients – if you don’t take care of yourself first.

You can do so by:

  • Eating healthy. For some of us this means cutting back on the frequency of Chick Fil A visits and for others this means adding vitamins into your daily routine. Whichever person you are, make sure to take an honest look at your diet and make any necessary changes. Planning out meals for the week and even doing weekly meal prep can help cut back on the drive-thru visits or take-out orders.
  • Getting enough sleep. Whether you are guilty of binging on Netflix late into the night or working on treatment plans past your bedtime, it’s time to stop. Get to bed at a decent hour so you can wake up feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed.
  • Exercising regularly. For me this can be the most difficult of the three. Block off time to exercise in your schedule and find a way to make it fun. For some that may mean walking the dog, signing up for a work-out class with a friend or even just setting a goal. 

Take time to recharge.

Taking care of yourself involves more than just your physical health. It is important to take the time to recharge for your mental health, as well.

Here are some ways to recharge:

  • Schedule time regularly for a favorite hobby. This could be as little as 30 minutes to read bedtime stories to your kids every night, an hour to get a pedicure each week or a few hours to play golf every month. Whatever your passions outside of dentistry are, make time for them in your life.
  • Take time off throughout the year and truly turn work off. Here in Florida, we often enjoy taking ‘Stay-cations.’ No matter the destination, we all need (and deserve) a vacation every once in a while. Take this time to relax, have fun and not work.

Get inspired.

Once you start taking care of yourself physically and mentally, it’s time to get re-inspired and passionate about dentistry. The best and easiest way to do that is to learn.

Here are some ways to reignite your passion:

  • Block off time each week for learning. Read a dental publication, take an online class, read a book (like one of these we recommend) or read some of our blog articles. You don’t even have to spend each week doing the same activity, but make time to do it.
  • Network and talk with other dentists in your area. Having a friend or mentor to bounce ideas off of or talk to about challenges can be a great resource. Whether you choose to join a local study group, attend a local dental meeting or just grab a drink with a colleague, make the effort; you won’t regret it.
  • Get out of the office and attend some CE. You knew this tip was coming, right? Getting out of the office, surrounding yourself with other dental professionals, and learning something new is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get inspired again. Do your research and make sure where you are going and what you’ll be learning is a good fit for you.

Wanting a little extra motivation? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ for our Motivational Monday posts. Remember to take it one step at a time and reach out to colleagues and mentors for help along the way.

Photo Credit: coba via Compfight cc

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