Endo Mastery

DIAGNOSIS: DOCTOR BURNOUT!

The tricky thing about burnout is that it sneaks up on you, even when you think you are doing all the right things. Here are some tips on where to begin when you start to feel your love of the profession or your practice is lagging.

CYNTHIA GOERIG

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Burnout is that point where you don’t know if you are capable of continuing in the profession. It’s rarely the result of a singular event, and often an accumulation over years of stress, dissatisfaction, boredom, exhaustion, repetition and denial.

 

One day, you wake up and realize that your overwhelming wish is to simply escape. That’s a heartbreaking moment because you’ve worked so hard all your life to get where you are. But rather than give in to the escape mindset, there are concrete steps you can take to defuse burnout. Here are some guidelines on where to focus to put yourself back in control of your practice and loving the profession.

Stress Drivers

Even when you’re not paying attention to them, stress drivers are always simmering in the background. They often manifest as physical or emotional disturbances such as lethargy, difficulty sleeping, anxiety or depression. Common dental stressors include persistent debt and financial worries, feeling burdened by practice and team management, and feeling defeated by the lack of improvement or progress toward desired goals.

Energy Drains

Energy drains are tasks or situations that plunge you into a negative and possibly unbearable mindset. You may feel a sense of dread, agitation or intense frustration, or find yourself procrastinating or employing avoidance tactics to the point of self-sabotage. Energy drains can be something as simple as an overly long, time-consuming commute, or more complex situations such as dealing with a problematic team issue.

Work/Life Balance

Everyone expects to prioritize the practice because it is the economic engine of life, but when the demands of the practice dominate over all other priorities, then you have a balance problem. Common balance issues are working more than you want, taking work home (chart notes, reports, accounting) to do in the evening, missing out on family time, and taking less vacation time than you want. Your body and mind need rest, and you need a fulfilling life that is not defined by making sacrifices.

Workflow and Team Optimization

If you spend most of the day just trying to keep up and to get everything done, and you leave at the end of day feeling exhausted, then your workflow needs to be improved. Re-engineer your team so that, aside from a few personal preferences, you are only doing what is legally required for the doctor to do. You should arrive with everything ready for you and leave with everything complete. The time in between should be effortlessly productive and enjoyable.

Purpose and Goals

Over 30 years in practice, a typical endodontist will complete over 25,000 root canals, and a highly productive doctor will complete double that or more. At some point, it can feel rote, repetitive and boring. It’s vital to stay connected to the profession and to always be learning and challenging yourself with new goals that maintain your sense of forward-looking purpose. Expand your CE opportunities and make the effort to spend time outside your practice with endodontic colleagues who inspire you with fresh ideas and techniques for clinical care and practice success.

Personal Self-Care

Your health and well-being have a direct effect on your energy levels, motivation and belief in your value. With the practice consuming most of your time, it’s all too easy to let the things that renew, recharge and strengthen your body, mind and soul to fall by the wayside. After a few years, you can feel out of shape both physically and mentally. After a decade or more, you might even feel resentful that you’ve given up so much vitality. But it’s all reversible if you restructure your approach to self-care by setting aside time every week to keep your body and mind healthy and active.

Recognition and Reward

Finally, ask yourself what you really need and want from your practice and the profession to feel successful and happy, and to feel like you are doing valuable work with results that are worthwhile. Do you want greater financial success? Better lifestyle? Recognition from your referrers or endodontic peers?  Don’t limit yourself in your vision, even if it seems impractical now.

 

Endo Mastery has coached a lot of doctors from feeling burdened and overwhelmed to feeling extraordinarily energized and empowered by their practices. We’ve helped doctors working 5 days a week, in debt and with limited income to working 3 days a week, eliminating their debt, and doubling their income. That creates a whole lot of room in their life for family, happiness, balance and healthy fun.

 

The best time to act is when you start feeling any one of the above symptoms. If you have nagging thoughts or persistent worries in your mind, then it’s a sign something needs to change in your practice or life. Ask for help, especially if you feel like burnout is setting in.