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How to fall back in love with your dental career

Post date: 14/02/2019 | Time to read article: 2 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 08/04/2019

Working in dentistry has its ups and downs, so it’s important to do the things that help you stay happy at work.

A career in dentistry can be hugely rewarding. We welcome the challenges along the way and often have a strong sense of mission and purpose - to help people and make a real difference.

However, recent evidence suggests many dentists are struggling to avoid burnout. As with any job, it’s easy to lose focus, experience conflict, have moments of doubt or simply question your career choice from time to time. Finding ways to avoid this happening can be crucial if you want to stay in love with your career. 

Prevent burnout

The increasing demands placed on modern healthcare practitioners means that the possibility of burnout is significantly more likely than would previously have been the case - having an impact on the quality of care, patient satisfaction and increasing dentolegal risk.

Burnout is seen as a combination of emotional exhaustion, a cynical attitude towards patients, and feelings of low personal accomplishment. It occurs when passionate, committed people become disillusioned with a job or career from which they have previously derived meaning from.

Evidence suggests that dentists with high scores on measurable burnout scales are more likely to make mistakes, which can jeopardise patient care and lead to complaints of negligence. When you’re trying to do the best you can and look after patients, being involved in an allegation or disciplinary with the GDC can have an impact on you both physically and mentally.

Our ‘Building resilience and avoiding burnout’ workshop can help you to recognise the signs of burnout and give you the knowledge and confidence to manage the symptoms, aid your recovery and prevent recurrence.

Avoid conflict

Your role as a dentist inevitably involves contact and communication with a wide range of people in often difficult circumstances. Feelings and emotions may become heightened and interactions can easily become tense, causing stress and anxiety.

Most situations of conflict tend to start with a miscommunication, a minor disagreement or a difficult interaction. The key is to prevent these situations from escalating.

We will all experience conflicts at some point in our career, but it’s detecting a situation early on and knowing how to defuse it that can make all the difference. 

Relationships between dentists and their patients rely strongly on good communication. To help with these difficult scenarios, Dental Protection runs free workshops and online courses to help members deal with challenging interactions with patients. 

Keep learning

One of the most rewarding things about a career in dentistry is that the industry is constantly evolving and developing, and new techniques are being researched and adopted.

Continued professional development helps with career progression, improves the quality of care patients receive and ensures that dental practitioners stay up to date with their relevant regulatory bodies. It also helps you stay engaged with your career and reminds you why you fell in love with a career in dentistry in the first place.

We offer a range of webinars, workshops and e-learning on Prism to help your continued CPD.

Practise self-care

Dentists can spend so much time and energy worrying about their patients that their own wellbeing can often be put on the back burner. It is rewarding work, but it can be draining.

It’s important that dental  practitioners are feeling their best both physically and mentally in order to be able to provide the best service possible to patients, and that means looking after number one – practising self-care can make a huge difference.

Introducing more relaxation and “me time” into your life can make a huge difference. Try and set at least one hour a day aside and do something to help yourself recover, whether that’s going for a run, practising yoga, meditating, cooking; whatever makes you feel calmer. Recent evidence suggests that introverts recover energy by being alone and reflecting, whilst extroverts recover energy by being with others and interacting. Knowing what works for you and ensuring you rest and recover well is the key to self-care.

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