Engagement and diversity: Combating the spectre of professional burnout

17 January 2019

Burnout is a real issue for dentists, and dental professionals generally, with one study reporting that 84% of dentists reported symptoms associated with burnout such as insomnia, fatigue, difficulty and feeling directionless in life, among others. 

Writing in Dentistry Today, Andrew Goldsmith DDS notes that burnout typically results when what you’re doing doesn’t correlate with what you value most in life, and when the ability to make changes to that situation are compromised by insufficient resources such as lack of time or flexible work arrangements. 

This sense of disconnect results in what Sherri Bourg Carter, PsyD, describes as “a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, detachment and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.” 

Dentists are, Goldssmith observes, more predisposed to burnout since they are typically “Type A” personalities who he says “have jobs that can be stressful as [they] work in small dark places where millimeters make a big difference while attempting to do more in less time.” 

Furthermore the high degree of perfectionism demanded by the role creates additional stress. 

He suggests the following ways of reducing the burnout in your professional life. 

Encourage a practice environment in which team members can communicate in constructive ways. 

Create a schedule that works for you and minimises any risks. 

Ensure you are fairly compensated for what you do 

Take steps to improve your physical and mental health through meditation, music and other techniques. 

He finishes by stressing the point that control ultimately lies with each person. 

“Burnout arises from continued negative threats to the resources we value: time, money, freedom, communication, control, health, and love. By focusing on what we can control, we decrease the likelihood of burning out.20 Furthermore, by engaging in our profession and adding diversity in our work, we embrace the very strategy that can break burnout in dentistry.” 

To read the full article, please go to “How to Avoid Dental Burnout”