Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor
I am aware of negative feelings when I speak to some dentists. Even in these upbeat economic times, they are down on the profession, their patients, and their staff. They wished that they had chosen another profession. I was recently talking to a dentist in St. Louis (yes, I do stay home, sometimes!) who was telling me that he had decided to sell his practice and do something else. I asked about his gross and net, and both were six figures.
I was surprised by his decision, particularly after I heard his numbers. I asked what he had decided to do instead. He indicated that perhaps he would sell real estate or maybe get into stocks and bonds. Both are great professions, but why did they have more appeal than dentistry? He felt that he would be able to make more income at these new jobs with less stress.
I inquired about the number of days he worked during the week. The answer was three. I don`t know of any job that will pay him that kind of income working just three days a week. People in jobs earning comparable incomes usually work 60 to 70 hours a week. I implored my friend to rethink his decision.
At one time or another, everyone in every career is faced with burnout. It is impossible to do the same thing for 10 to 15 years without getting bored. I feel that burnout is generally boredom. Most of us are risk takers at heart (why else would dentists open so many restaurants). But, as we begin to mature and begin to make some money in the practice, and our lifestyle moves up a notch, we become more conservative. Perhaps we have experienced some failure and we become fearful of failing again.
So we maintain the status quo of the office and avoid any change. After a while, this becomes boring. We begin looking for other things to do. I am very familiar with this syndrome; when I got bored, I traveled to Saudi Arabia trying to find something different and fulfilling to do. Even though I made 28 trips over there, I still did not find it!
I feel that we all need the challenge of something new occasionally to keep things exciting. I solved my burnout problem by getting into esthetic dentistry in the mid-1980s. The excitement of seeing all the new possibilities that these new techniques brought to the practice was catching. The entire team was energized as we began to realize that this is life-changing stuff for our patients.
Try some new techniques. Get some new training. Take your practice to new heights. Remember, Roger Levin says that, if your practice has reached a plateau, then it is actually declining even when you think it is holding its own.
In the dental profession, we have an acute need to keep a positive attitude in all that we do. My team tells me that they can tell what kind of a day it is going to be by the way that I close the car door out in the parking lot when I arrive in the morning.
Perhaps we need to look in the mirror for the cause of some of the problems in the office. I have analyzed many successful practices and a common thread in all of them is that the dentist is the keeper of the vision. He is the leader. This leadership position cannot be given to anybody else in the practice.
It is important for us to keep a positive attitude about what we do. Enthusiasm is contagious. Once I became confident and enthusiastic about my dentistry, amazing things happened to my practice. Learn to visualize a great day every day. Attract people to you with your smile and your charisma. It will do wonders for your practice and your life.
P.S. My good friend, Dr. Michael Miller, reminded me that I failed to mention his publication when I recently wrote about sources of information on materials. A thousand pardons, Michael. I have been a subscriber to Reality since it was first published. I use it constantly as a tremendous guide for materials, techniques, and articles about cosmetic dentistry. If you are doing any cosmetic dentistry in your practice, you must subscribe to Reality. When you call, tell them I told you about it.