One of the most exciting times in a dentist’s career is when they work with me. Buying land in a good location, designing and building a dental office, and finally decorating it before opening, usually marks either the beginning of a dentist’s career or a point of huge growth and change.
Because of my unique situation, I have seen the wide eyed excitement of newness on the faces of many dentists, as well as the absolute anxiety that comes with a step of this magnitude. Many people think that dentists are an easy going bunch, but even at the best times in their practices, I have seen the effects of stress on them.
Dr. Phil tells us that “you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.” So a clear first step is to know what stresses dentists out.
Well, like all people in the healthcare industry, dentists work with people and those people have expectations and demands that need to be fulfilled.
Time pressures due to scheduling demands are one of the biggest stressors that a dentist faces in their day. Keeping to a tight schedule, while ensuring that the quality of care is not sacrificed, is extremely stressful.
Patient demands can also be stressors, especially if they are unrealistic or unreasonable. Dealing with uncooperative or difficult patients is the number one stressor that all dentists face and coping with this is often more difficult when pressed for time.
Another stress factor for dentists, is the large amount of concentration and focus needed to perform their craft as skillfully as they do. Long hours of intense concentration is absolutely exhausting and when mixed with all the other stress factors encountered during an average working day, it is easy to see how dentists can burn out.
Coping Skills Needed
There are many ways that people cope with stress, and this truly is an individual process. Some of the ways I deal with stress and have found to be quite effective are:
Nothing beats a good night’s sleep. Without being well rested, stress is more likely to affect you. The amount of concentration needed to perform dental procedures is enough to make even the most well rested person sweat. Getting enough sleep is crucial to maintain your cool when under pressure.
The natural endorphins released when you exercise soothe stress levels and clear the mind. Taking time out from your work to focus on yourself and your own health is an excellent way to keep stress levels at bay.
As I said, time pressures are often the leading cause of stress for dentists. Making sure that you schedule extra time for appointments you know may take longer, set limits to your day and how many patients you will see, and leave yourself room for the unexpected; are all great ways to manage your time effectively.
Hiring a receptionist or someone who can handle your scheduling is a great way to ensure that your time is managed well and to ensure that you are not overbooking yourself.
All these coping strategies are great ways to keep stress levels at bay, but if you feel like your stress is too great to manage on your own, seek the help of a professional before the stress leads to other more serious issues.