In a dental office, more than most medical offices, we are in very close and consistent contact with each other. No matter what your position is in the office, you’ll get a good idea of what your co-worker’s usual demeanor is. Because of this, it’s easy to tell when burnout is beginning to raise its head. The normally bubbly hygienist is becoming more easily irritable – or maybe a sharp-eyed assistant is now distractible. There are many signs of burnout in a dental office that you might be keyed in to, but it is critical to the continued success of your practice to ensure your staff is in a healthy state of mind.
So just how can a dental practice prevent burnout?
Make Breaks Non-Optional
If you have a patient in the seat the moment that your lunch break starts, then it’s not wise to make them wait. But it’s important to have time to step away from your work. This can also be difficult due to last-minute schedule changes or emergency visits. It’s important to be accommodating, but skipping a lunch break for a walk-in patient can take away from the time needed to recharge and refresh for the rest of the day.
Stick to the Schedule
Similar to taking regular breaks, having a healthy work-life balance is an important step to preventing burnout. Emergency visits are one thing, but last-minute walk-ins can be difficult to turn away. But for your staff and yourself, maintaining a firm stance on not giving up free time is another major step towards a burnout-free office.
Don’t Shy Away From the Issues
Burnout can be a very uncomfortable thing to discuss. Mental health issues in general are sensitive topics to discuss in a professional atmosphere. Be clear with each other that there’s nothing shameful about struggling, least of all in the current pandemic. Stress is temporary, as is any discomfort you feel about having a conversation about each other’s mental state. But having a brief conversation can go a long way for making it clear that you care, or even talking out methods to prevent burnout.