Oral Health Group

Cut Out the Stress

February 4, 2022
by Janice Wheeler, The Art Of Management Inc.

Is there a human alive who hasn’t at some point been frustrated or stressed at work? Anyone who is taking on life energetically and head-on will definitely hit periods of stress and frustration. Welcome to the workaday world.

Sure, there are people who amble through life, not taking too much responsibility for anything and, of course, they don’t experience pressure and the need to get 20 things done at once. Good for them.


For those of us who are taking on the world, there must be some solutions to the exasperations, annoyances, irritations and aggravations that seem to be part and parcel of being a go-getter. The best thing to do is find the exact source of the problem and handle it so it’s not affecting you anymore.

There are solutions!

If you are experiencing stress from an overly heavy workload, what is the cause? Let’s have a look at the possible sources of the problem.

Incorrect Scheduling

First of all, you probably love a full, well-scheduled day and that feeling of productivity accomplished and the resulting satisfaction, right? If that is not happening for you, you should take a look to see why your workload is so heavy and what is causing you stress.Is it that you are not properly scheduled in a way that is orderly and not wasting your precious moments? Inefficiencies in scheduling can cause you to run behind schedule and feel the pressure from patients who are waiting not-too-patiently.

There is often a way to schedule an ideal day so it runs efficiently, smoothly and without pressure. For example, booking all the large, highly technical procedures in the morning (if you are a morning person). During this time, there should be no hygiene check-ups to do – only 3- or 4-month cleanings are to be done during that time. Then schedule the routine type of work into the afternoon along with new patient exams and hygiene checks.

Overdue for an Associate

Another major reason for the overloaded, too busy feeling can be that you might need a hand – possibly a part-time associate who can start taking the load off you. If you are booked out weeks or months into the future, this may be a sign that it’s time for an associate.

Staff Training

With the current staffing shortages many practices are experiencing, there is an increase in hiring staff that are new to dentistry. They require a lot of input and training from you, which definitely can be frustrating. However, the lack of thorough job descriptions, protocols and practice policy manual cause the staff to rely on your input and direction in getting on with their new, unfamiliar jobs. Usually, this applies to receptionists and office managers and sterilization staff. Even experienced staff that you have newly hired will require these tools to learn how things are done at your practice. If you have these thorough write-ups, there will be a lot less reliance on you to be the educator.

Lack of Staff

Sometimes the stress you experience may be from a lack of an additional staff member, whether at the front or the back. Trying to do without and be economical can lead to increased pressure on you and the existing team. At the front desk, if you are billing over a certain amount monthly – say, $60,000 – you will be starting to lose potential new patients as your receptionist is too busy handling current patients and has no time to focus on building a relationship with a “shopper” and turning them into a new patient. This results in fewer new patients and quite a loss in potential income.

The Wrong Staff

Having unwilling staff who give you attitude or push-back and are unable to follow orders can can certainly jack up your stress level, and that aggravation can build up till it spills all over the place. Spotting who it is and exchanging them for a new team member who is willing and is “on the team” can change your entire day, month, year.

Lack of Executive Training

Ninety-nine percent of dentists have had no real management training on how to be the world’s best possible leader and boss, how to give orders correctly, how to pull a team together, how to make management decisions, and much more. Not even an MBA teaches these skills and, as a result, you may find yourself wishing sometimes that you could fire yourself or one of your staff when really it is just a lack of management training. There are courses that train you on these exact skills and what a difference it can make.

Overdue for an Office Manager

When you reach six to eight staff members, you should consider acquiring an office manager, whether by promoting someone from within or hiring from outside. Having someone to download the day-to-day managerial duties to may just free you up enough that you don’t need to hire an associate yet as you have more production time.

Better Sleep, Healthier Food

Eating well and sleeping soundly are two very desirable things you can do to reduce your stress. On the flip side, the stress and frustrations you are experiencing can prevent you from doing both. The answer is to consciously improve your eating habits as that is something that can easily be done if you so decide. Prepare good stuff the night before to take for lunch and supper the next day.

It’s a chicken-and-egg situation regarding stress and sleep. When you find out which of the above sources is causing you the stress and take the action steps necessary, you will feel relief and be a happier camper. On the flip side, you will be able to handle stress more easily if you are getting enough sleep. Work both sides if you can.


Having a strong mentor or a consultant with strong dental experience who you can talk to and get help from in solving the above issues can give you quite a sense of relief. “Two heads are better than one” is a good way to look at it. Also, the consultant is outside the forest you are running around in and can often give you excellent directions to help you get out!

Moral of the Story

Don’t grin and bear it if you are feeling stressed. Take action as above! Practising is supposed to be fun and interesting. Enjoy it!

About the Author

Janice Wheeler, is the President of The Art Of Management Inc. which has grown more than 700 Canadian dental offices over the last 32 years. She is an international speaker, has written over 500 management articles (www.amican.com), regularly contributes to various Canadian healthcare journals, wrote a book “Practical Advice for Practice Owners”, and has an awesome team who love helping dentists reach their practice goals.

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