How To Managing Anxiety & Stress as a Dentist

How To Managing Anxiety & Stress as a Dentist
Dentistry is a dynamic, high-tech, challenging and fun profession.  It requires fine neuro-motor skills, an understanding of anatomy, artistic ability, an eye for creating esthetics, a continuous ability to stay on top of technological advancement, and a hundred (perhaps thousands of) other things…all while maintaining an ability to perceive emotion. We may have one patient in room #1 that is happy, chatty, and warm.  But in room #2 is a child that is fearful, clinging to his mother, and uncooperative.  It is an interesting pendulum swing of emotions as I move from one patient to the other.  So the question of “How to Managing Anxiety & Stress as a Dentist”, the title of this blog entry, is really directed to dentists, particularly the young, new dentist. I’ve learned a few things that have worked for me and will mention just one today: Don’t be afraid.  People are very perceptive and can sense when someone is uncertain or nervous.  As a practitioner it is important to have the experience necessary to absolutely know how to handle situations.  How do you gain that knowledge?
    1. Continuing education:  I am a big proponent of lifelong learning.  Dentists should seek out courses and study clubs to continue learning throughout their lives.
    2. Community service:  Volunteering time in community clinics or international, humanitarian service experiences will expose a clinician to a wide variety of challenges.  It gets you out of your comfort zone and adds greatly to your reservoir of experience.
    3. Team support:  It can take years to collect a great team that is comprised of great individuals.  But when you have arrived at that point where you have tremendous auxiliary staff to support your efforts, work becomes so much sweeter.  But hiring the right people is just part of the equation of having a great team.  The dentist must lead that team to greatness.
    4. Mentors: Seeking out other dentists in the community to share ideas, techniques, challenges and successes adds a wealth of knowledge to your own efforts.
I have been in practice now for 17 years and have been fortunate to travel the country studying under dental gurus.  I’ve served in community clinics (Donated Dental, South Davis Community Hospital, and Pantry Smiles Dental Clinic) as well as traveled internationally to Mexico and the Philippines. I have a tremendous team of office managers, hygienists, and dental assistants.  I also have a group of community mentors that I can go to share ideas, share concerns and ask questions. Truly, dentistry is a challenging but fun profession.  It is one that I thoroughly enjoy.  The stresses can melt away. If you are a new dentist, or any dentist that is experiencing too much stress, I invite you to contact me.  I can share with you some specific organizations that can help you in your pursuit of continuing education, community service, team support, and mentorship.

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