When I returned from my first trip over seas since 2019, I realized the true price of what we do for a living. After spending ten days in Italy drinking wine and travelling through the beautiful countryside, I realized that I was tired from how hard I had been working over the last two and a half years. This pandemic has not been easy for dentists including myself. The overall stress level in our lives has gone through the roof. Dealing with increasingly stressed patients, employee illnesses and, not to mention, the financial strain brought on by the pandemic, have all added to the difficulty in our professional lives. This was all compounded with the fact that many of us could not get away to recharge the batteries due to travel restrictions. No matter how well one separates their professional and personal lives they are certainly linked to one another. Just the other day I had a discussion with one of my colleagues who was thinking of selling his practice because he couldn’t take the stress of running his office anymore. His words were that “it’s not the dentistry itself but everything else involved that is getting more difficult.” A lot of us do our very best to live a balanced life of going to work, the gym, spending time with family and sleeping well, yet many of us still feel stressed. Dentistry is a great profession that I love and that has allowed me to do a lot of great things in my life, but it comes with a price. Sometimes it’s not until you walk away from your everyday life that you realize how exhausted you are.
What can we do? Firstly, we need to stay connected with each other as colleagues. Who understands what you are going through more than your close friends who are going through the same things? Misery loves company! Sometimes you just need to vent! My colleague felt a lot better after I called to see how he was doing. We have a responsibility not only to our patients but each other as friends and colleagues. Secondly, take more holidays! I can attest to that one! It’s not until you get away from what you do so well, that you realize you needed a break. So, the next time you complain about how the price of running a practice is getting out of hand (which I do every day) think about what it’s doing to you. That is the real price. It has been said that “taking a break can lead to breakthroughs.” You don’t do what you do for the short term. We are all committed for the long term and, therefore, we need to pace ourselves. It’s not a sprint but a marathon. Now that our practices are getting back to normal, many of us are working even harder to catch up. But at what cost?
Take a break and check in on each other once and awhile because it will make us and our profession better!
About the Author
David R. Farkouh is a pediatric dentist in private practice in Toronto, Ontario. He is on staff at the Hospital for Sick Children in the Department of Dentistry in Toronto, Ontario. He is the Pediatric Dentistry Editor for Oral Health.
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