“The Times They Are A-Changin’!”
Anytime there is change, we have the opportunity to grow and flourish or we can stagnate. Moving forward towards the beginning of 2021, we have the opportunity for practice and personal growth in several crucial areas:
“Dentists have the opportunity to lead their dental practices during these challenging and uncertain times, using principles, ethics, honesty and integrity.”
Define your practice. Re-evaluate and re-define who you are, your goals and what direction your practice will take in the near and distant future. Evaluate the efficiency of the office and clinical systems. Plan and change them incrementally for success and ask for help from others.
Develop leadership skills. There has never been a better time to become a leader in your life and practice than right now. It is important to remember that most leaders are made, not born. Two of my favorite sayings come from author John C. Maxwell where he states, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision”, and “Leaders must be close enough to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” Surround yourself with information and people who can guide you through challenges and unknown times. It is often stated, “It is lonely at the top”. I think the previous statement is false because real leaders surround themselves with people and information that can direct them to make the best decision. There is wisdom in numbers. Discuss with your dental colleagues, experts, and advisors how you can make the best decisions in life and practice.
Set and renew boundaries. Boundary setting may sound harsh to do in certain situations, but it serves two very important purposes to free you to be more productive. First, boundaries define what you are willing to accept or allow in your life or practice. Secondly, the other person knows exactly what is expected of him in the relationship. Boundaries can actually help reduce stress and anxiety in your life.
Remain engaged and seek your passion. Engagement is the key to preventing stress and burnout. Pursue your passion or passions in life. They have a way of re-vitalizing your life. Passion changes everything!
Control your schedule. This is something in which we can have a say-so! Studies have shown that one of the biggest stressors in dental practices is running behind schedule with your dental appointments, even more so than dealing with difficult or demanding patients! Block scheduling is an excellent way to maximize production and stay on schedule, while potentially reducing stress (physical and mental).
“Real leaders are like thermostats, setting a path with guidance instead of being like thermometers, where one is reactive, up and down without direction.”
Minimize debt. Don’t do anything rash with money or make questionable investments now. Take steps that will set you up for success in the long run. Don’t react but carefully proceed with input from the experts.
Don’t isolate. Isolation can be a disturbing sign of illness. Some people are “loners” and live a balanced life. They are not who I’m referring to. If you notice you are starting to withdraw from functions, work, life, etc., you may be displaying signs of disease or illness. Physical isolation, while necessary during this pandemic, gives you the opportunity to reach out to colleagues, friends or family via a telephone call, Skype, Zoom, Face Time, etc. This is an excellent way to share information and concerns while helping you to “keep your sanity”. Journal and then share your thoughts with trusted friends to explore how they may respond.
Contact your collegial community. All human beings have a need for acceptance (the need to belong) and recognition(the need to matter). Reaching out to fellow dentists in our dental community is crucial during this time. They are dealing with a lot of the same issues you are and sharing ideas may be beneficial for everyone. Allowing your employees to ask you questions and keeping your staff informed of the current status of your office during this pandemic can be a comfort to your employees. Hold morning huddles each day to plan the team approach to patient care. Conduct regular staff meetings to educate and evaluate the direction the practice is headed. Communicating with your staff shows that you recognize them as a vital part of the solution to maintain and grow your practice. Valuing their response indicates that you have acceptance for their ideas. The solution in going forward is found in the dental community and our teams.
Focus on your spiritual life and be grateful. Pray and meditate to invite peace, comfort and direction for your life. Keep the faith and remember the solution to this time is found in our prayers and faith. Maintain an attitude of gratitude and count your blessings for the present and your future.
Dentists have the opportunity to lead their dental practices during these challenging and uncertain times, using principles, ethics, honesty and integrity. Real leaders are like thermostats, setting a path with guidance instead of being like thermometers, where one is reactive, up and down without direction.
Resource for Well-being During the Pandemic
American Dental Association
Great resources for stress, anxiety, burnout, depression and addiction.
(The views expressed in this article are not intended to be used as advice
for the reader, but express what has been effective in the life of the author.)