Life is all about finding balance, and in the healthcare industry, that can be difficult to achieve. Dentists’ days are filled with demanding schedules, complex cases and different personalities, not to mention the commitments outside the office such as personal wellbeing and family.
Dentists just starting out may be especially tempted to overwork themselves, seeking to establish their careers and strengthen their practices. While a strong work ethic is nothing to shy away from, letting work overtake one’s work/life balance can have significant consequences.
According to the Mayo Clinic, that imbalance can result in:
- Fatigue, which can cloud thinking, reduce reaction time and hurt productivity. This can be especially dangerous in a medical field.
- Poor health, which can result from stress. This stress can cause complications with the immune system, leading to increased susceptibility to illness, as well as an increased chance of substance abuse.
- Reduced time with loved ones and family, which can damage relationships long term.
There are steps one can take in order to recalibrate the scales and restore balance.
To ensure you’re set up to take time away from the office, one idea is to set strict hours, outlining the times you plan to work and then having office staff only schedule appointments within these times. This can be augmented by keeping a calendar of family events, activities or milestones (birthdays, sports games, dance recitals, etc.) and ensuring that slated hours do not conflict with those activities. Other tactics include hiring competent staff who can help keep the practice running smoothly at all times and outsourcing time-consuming managerial work such as insurance billing and collections. Read more here.
It’s also important to establish a balanced relationship with patients by considering the ratio of small talk to professional care advice. Being diligent and efficient with work can help maintain the aforementioned work/life balance by accomplishing tasks quickly, but nurturing patient relationships can build trust, put patients at ease and convert them into loyal referrers.
In addition to patients and family, it is important to carve out some time just for yourself. According to the American Dental Association’s New Dentist Blog, “Taking time to clear your head each day is important, whether that means going for a walk, reading a book or just closing your door for a few minutes to enjoy the solitude.”
Without establishing a healthy balance between work, home life and self-care, being a great dentist can be challenging. Finding the right balance in these key areas is sure to benefit dentists, staff members and patients alike.