TBU #038: 5 Ways To Avoid Burnout As A Practice Owner

Feb 11, 2023
5 Ways To Avoid Burnout As A Practice Owner

 New Issue of The Biomimetic Uprising

Read Time: 3.5 min  

Dentistry can be hard.  If you own a dental practice, you have extra responsibilities.  A business owner dentist is doing the production, the Human Resources, the maintenance, the finances, and perhaps many more things.  We have a lot to balance.  It can be hard to keep everything organized and efficient. 

I have personally been thru more than one of these burnout cycles.  When I purchased my practice in 2019, I  knew it wasn't going to be all roses, but I also didn't know exactly what it was going to be either.  I'm a 'jump on in' type person.  I try to make an educated decision as much as anyone can, but I also know there is a lot of learning that happens that comes only from experience.  I try not to let the inexperience slow me down.  Here's a few things I have learned from owning a practice and facing burnout more than once:

1. Make Time For Yourself 

This has two different aspects to it.  The first, the classic 'go to the gym', ' exercise more', 'find a hobby', are all important.  Your own personal health will allow you to perform your work the way you want to but it will also help clear your head and destress your life.  This is a common theme and there's lots to be said about this topic.  We just often dont realize we aren't until too late.  

2. Control Your Schedule 

The second, schedule breaks in your work day.  I started putting in blocks in my schedule to allow myself time for the daily tasks that can often pile up.  I  don't see patients until 8:30 and I dont patients past 3:30.  I'll also include some time after scheduling a long appointment to allow myself some breathing room incase things were to go long or be more complicate that initially thought.  One of the easiest things to get burnt out in our profession is a busy schedule and running from room to room.  Biomimetic dentistry has the potential to allow an easier work flow.  The decoupling with time concept, semi-direct onlays are good examples of time favorable treatments.  Also, if it allows, try scheduling single column for yourself.  Perhaps you raise the fees to accommodate this change too.  

3. Go Easy On The Social Media 

Basing this off the first concept, take some breaks from social media or limit the amount of time that its being used.  While this is a fantastic tool to use for business growth, it can also be easy to start comparing, complaining, or bring in other negativities that can lead to burnout. Everyone is at a different stage with their career.  We all dont need to be on the same path for it either.  Being supportive and encouraging is whats important, not the constant negative critiquing.  

There's a pressure to be on social media all the time and consistently.  While being consistent is important, that doesn't need to be everyday.  It can also be every other day, a few times a week, once a week, or whatever else.  That being said, there's also different goals that should be happening when using social media.  Sometimes its growth, sometimes its just constant awareness.  Regardless of the reason and purpose, it can be good to set a game plan up for the intent to use social media.  

4. Delegate Things Out

For me, at least, this might be one of the harder things to do.  I'm not sure if its the control that I like our or the fact that I might feel like no one els is equipped to do the job. Both are bad ways to look at job responsibilities. I've started to give more jobs out and its been a wonderful thing.  Automate easy tasks and bill paying.  

As for the dentistry, its easy to have your assistant do the caries dye, air abrasion, matrix band placing, dam placement etc.  There's numerous jobs they can do.  Most of the time they are looking for more responsibilities and tasks to do.  It keeps their day exciting and they feel like they are improving in their own job satisfaction.  Theses tasks are great for them to do if you are needing to jump out for an exam or other duties. 

5. Set Boundaries And Say No

A work life balance doesn't necessarily mean balancing all the events that come into play.  A balance is saying no to all the EXTRA events that come into play.  By saying no, this will automatically make more time for the things that matter most and are more important. 

Perhaps say no can mean chaining the hours to what you want them to be.  Perhaps saying no can mean not taking a certain insurance.  Perhaps saying no can mean to not do all the extractions and Endo cases that walk in your door.  If you're the business owner, you make the calls.  Make the business how YOU want it to be.  The patients aren't going to leave because you make these changes.  Some will of course, but as general whole, they will not.  They might gripe about it at first, but they will adapt and respect what you are trying to do.  

I  recently encountered this in my own office.  When I purchased the place, they were working 11-7pm four days a week.   This fit the previous owners lifestyle perfectly, just not mine.  I changed them to regular 8-4 hours for nearly all of it but was super reluctant to dropping all the late hours completely.  At first, I kept all the Tuesdays to be late days in fear that I would lose a lot of patients that wanted the late hours.  Eventually I would drop these further to only have late hours twice a month.  I was analyzing the production and realized that these late days weren't as beneficial as I initially thought.  There was a lot of no shows, low average production appointments, and otherwise wasted time.  Earlier this month, I decided to drop them all completely and commit to regular 8-4 hours.  I'm still in the process of seeing the long term results from it, but already I've seen a dramatic change in the office productivity (for the positive).  I've also not seen the pushback from the patients that I thought there was going to be. Everyone has been really happy and accommodating. 

On the dental side, there are always patients that will ask you to do a certain procedure.  Its easy to get excited about seeing an uptick in production from taking on a certain case.  However, if you know that this case will bring lots of extra appointments or checkups, perhaps its not one that you want to take on.  

That being said, perhaps its just changing a mindset for these more complex cases.  If you like the challenge of doing these extra cases or are looking to further branch out on your abilities, just knowing that they are good teaching opportunities for growth can help keep you in a positive light.  I think as biomimetic dentists, we try to be perfect and feel that we have to deliver 100% all the time.  Well, its not possible.  Sadly there will be patients and cases where we cant deliver all that we want to. Staying positive will help prevent the burnout that comes from redoing a certain case. 

Stay positive my friends!


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