In last month’s blog, I asked the crucial question whether you can still be happy in private practice.
I believe you can and how you achieve it is something I will explore in upcoming blogs. However, before we move into that realm, there is an even more fundamental question that dentists should consider.
Namely, are you truly happy in dentistry?
Many of you may consider this a silly question. Those with a passion for serving their patients and using their skills to create optimal health care outcomes might wonder how anyone could NOT be happy being a dentist.
However, many people do not wind up sharing that passion. These people can become overwhelmed by the feeling of always having to achieve perfection while working in the smallest of spaces. This pressure can actually lead to mental health issues and even suicide!
So how do you manage this stress? Should you consider leaving the clinical practice of dentistry?
That is not as easy as it might sound. The pressure to remain a dentist is enormous. It is an honourable profession where you can truly make a difference in the lives of so many people. And let’s face it…dentistry can provide a great income! It can be really hard to walk away from that.
On top of that, what if you had always dreamed of being a dentist? You talked about it as a kid. You studied hard throughout high school and undergrad to make sure your grades would be good enough to get into dental school. The day you received your acceptance letter was one of the happiest days of your life.
Then something happened.
Perhaps you were still in dental school. Maybe it was after you graduated and began working as dentist. Somewhere along the line, you started to question if you had made the right choice.
But how do you walk away after investing all that time and money into your education? What happens to all those skills you worked so hard to obtain? Will leaving make you feel like a failure? Like you couldn’t “cut it” so you had no choice but to surrender?
I know exactly how you feel because I had all the same thoughts when I gave up practicing law. The transition away from a profession I dedicated so much of my life to was not easy. I promise you – you will question if you are making the right decision.
Trust me when I tell you that you are not a failure for leaving a profession that simply brings you nothing but stress. In fact, making the decision to leave is one of the most courageous and selfless decisions you can make. You are not doing yourself, your team, your patients, or your family any favours by pretending to be a hero, soldiering on through the hardship.
As for the issue of losing the skills you have developed, you might be surprised how many ways there are to benefit from those skills. I know former dentists who coach others who are experiencing those very challenges and I would be happy to introduce you to them. Their focus is on helping their former colleagues find happiness in all kinds of new ways.
I know this is not the typical “dental blog” you have become accustomed to. But it will not matter if you are a practice owner, an associate at a private practice or part of a DSO. If the profession of dentistry is not making you happy, then it just might be time to consider other options.
I felt it was important to address this “elephant in the room” before we move on to discuss how to be happy in private practice. Look for that discussion in the blogs to come!
About the Author
Shawn Peers is the President of DentalPeers. DentalPeers is one of Canada’s oldest, continuous operating buying groups exclusively for dentists.