If you’re in love with your job then every day is a stellar day, right? Not always. The reality is, no matter what you do, you can’t escape those bad days, those days that drag, those patients that make you reconsider your career choice. But, even though your passion for the job isn’t the only ingredient to a successful practice and satisfied patients, it is most definitely one of the main ingredients.
A loss of passion for the job can do more damage to your practice than you might realize, and if you are certain that you’ve lost that passion and desperately want to revive it, it’s time to confront yourself with the questions you asked just before you chose dentistry as your career: Is this the career I really want? Why dentistry? If you can remember the answer you gave, hold onto it because you’re going to need it later.
A Bad Day of “Dentistry”
is Better than
a Good Day of Work
I’m sure you recognize this quote, though I replaced fishing with dentistry. When you look at this, do you agree? Are you nodding or are you shaking your head and facepalming in front of the screen? Your patients can see and feel that lack of passion in your office. In his article, Are You Shark Tank-Worthy? Howard Farran, DDS, writes that “patients don’t remember exactly what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” And if your patients feel stressed and are unable to detect your passion for the job, their feelings towards your practice will drastically change. Remember, your mood affects the entire office and everyone in it and just like a chain reaction, that mood transits from you to your team and finally to your patients.
So, how do you get back to that feeling of the familiar quote above? How do you make a bad day of dentistry better than a good day of “work” and therefore infuse that passion into every day? Here are 7 tips to help you get started.
1 | Get to the root of the problem
What is the problem, anyway? The only way to really address a loss of passion is to discover what made you lose it in the first place. Is it the environment? The people? The routine? You? These are questions you should ask in order to take those first steps forward.
2 | Don’t be afraid of change
Change is a part of life, and even though everything staying the same is comfortable and familiar, our brains need some variety and spice. In an interview conducted by Kyle Patton with Dr. Tuan Pham, he answers questions as to why he is still so happy as a dentist and offers this advice to dentists who are afraid to change, but desperately want to:
Thirty years at work is a long time! Start with small changes today. Tell your assistant to lay out that instrument that you’ve been wanting her to. Every issue or problem that you recognize is the opportunity to steer your office toward your ideal. Solve enough issues and soon you won’t have any; before you know it, your office is what you want. If you’re scared or think it’s too hard, reach out to someone who’s done it. If someone else can do it, so can you!
3 | Do more of what you love
I have had a myriad of conversations with dentists who love dentistry, but aren’t actually doing dentistry; instead, they are doing office work or they are selling or they are marketing. Dentistry actually ends up being twenty percent of their job rather than most of it. Of course, after years of this, you’d lose the passion for it, but remember, it isn’t dentistry you lost your passion for. In fact, you should be doing more of it.
At this point, it might be time to hire a few people, an Office Manager, a Treatment Coordinator, someone who can help you with marketing and social media, and everything you’re doing on your own. It might also be time for a practice management software that can take care of all those pesky menial tasks for you as well as help you organize and protect your patient data.
4 | Engage in more teamwork
In this office, my boss is constantly reminding us that our strengths make us assets to the company. Doing what you love clearly makes you an asset to your practice and if you can’t do that, it’s not only your passion that gets lost in the shuffle. If you have a team already, why not try and utilize their strengths and take the pressure off you while giving them the opportunity to experience passion for their work. The happier and organized the team, the more successful the team.
5 | Remind yourself that you are not invulnerable to stress
Just like everyone everywhere, you are not invulnerable to stress. Dentistry might be the love of your life, but it does not take away from the fact that sometimes the work is overbearing and the patients are difficult and there just isn’t enough time in the day. In this case, give yourself a break. Remember “prolonged stress depletes the resources in your body, weakens your immune system and eventually manifests itself in physical illnesses and mental breakdowns.”
By break, I do not mean a few minutes, either. Take the kind of break you deserve, whether it be a long weekend you’ve been craving or a one to two-week vacation. The holidays are coming and I can only hope you will take time off to relax and spend time with your loved ones.
6 | Break out of the routine
All jobs develop a routine, it’s how we know we’re completely comfortable with everything we’re doing; unfortunately, comfortable can become boring and predictable and, believe it or not, can lead to absent-mindedness. We are basically just going through the motions and losing a little bit of our passion every day.
Break out of the routine by finding different ways to do your job. The dentist, Tuan Pham, overhauled his way of doing things with the following explanation:
Work should be enjoyed as much as possible. If we are going to spend 30 years (or more) of our lives doing something day-in and day-out, then we owe it to ourselves to create the work environment we want.
What Pham ended up doing was focusing on a better way to help his patients which required fewer days in the week and fewer patients. He insists that this “allows me to spend time with each patient and help him understand what and why dental work is recommended.”
With this in mind, find your own way to approach dentistry that will, in turn, make you happier and bring the passion back to your work.
7 | Reflect on all the reasons you got into dentistry
Remember the question I asked you to think about at the beginning of this post? is this the career I really want? Why dentistry? Did you hold onto your answer? If so, it’s time to apply it here and reflect on all the reasons you got into dentistry in the first place. Sometimes, remembering what made you love dentistry can help you discover what might be missing. I’m interested to learn what started you on the road to a career in dentistry. What were your expectations? What area specifically interested you. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
- Howard Speaks: Are you Shark Tank-Worthy?
- Office Visit: 4 Patients a Day Keeps the Doctor at Play
- 10 Ways to Rekindle Your Passion for Work