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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Can Burnout be a Good Thing?
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

CEO Training Case #CEO786

Experience working with hundreds of dentists to improve their practices has shown me that by the time they reach out for help, some are dangerously close to “burnout.” Burnout defined is physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.

This was the case with “Dr. Hedge” (names have been changed), who had owned a private general practice for ten years and was considering selling his practice unless he could solve some major issues. When asked the following questions, he answered “yes” to most of them.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Have you become impatient and critical of others at the office?
Do you drag yourself to the practice or are you chronically late and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
Do you think you made the wrong choice with dentistry because it is a struggle to pay bills?
Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
Do you lack satisfaction from your practice achievements and feel disillusioned?
Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
Have your sleep habits changed and does your brain feel like it’s running on a hamster wheel?
Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, neck pain, backaches or other physical complaints?

After reading this list, burnout certainly does not sound like a good thing. So, what causes burnout? Job burnout can result from various factors, including:

You feel like you have no control. An inability to influence decisions that affect your job, such as your schedule and your staff.

Your authority or leadership is questioned. You're unclear about the degree of authority you have or what others expect from you. Even dentists who are the CEO or “boss” often don’t feel like one when the staff has taken control.

Workplace dynamics are out of sync. Perhaps you work with an Office Manager who is the office bully, or you feel undermined by the staff. If you are an associate, maybe your boss micromanages your work. This can contribute to job stress.

Mismatch in vision and practice goals. If your values differ from the way your employees behave in the practice and you have not communicated your vision and mission, the mismatch can eventually take a toll. 

Extremes of activity or chaos. When the practice schedule is not managed correctly, you need constant energy to remain focused – which can lead to fatigue and job burnout.

Lack of family or social support. If you feel isolated at the office and in your personal life, you might feel more stressed because you have no one to talk to about your frustrations.

Work-life imbalance. If your work takes up so much time and effort that you don't have energy to spend time with your family and friends, you might burnout quickly. This is especially true if your family puts pressure on you, such as: “You are always late getting home” or “You don’t have time to help the children with their homework”.

Bringing to light the issues and then addressing them as related to the practice operational systems, Dr. Hedge realized that by understanding how to manage the practice and staff, he could be empowered to accept his position as the CEO. He had relied on his staff and they weren’t performing to his vision and mission for the practice, yet he had never shared that with them. He had given up on his practice.

He embraced the Dentist CEO Training and realized that every cause of his burnout was inadequate or failed business systems in his practice. It was his wakeup call, and he was excited to make changes to eliminate burnout and improve his practice.

Burnout can be a wakeup call to change your attitude about what is going on and lead to ignition of another flame. If you want things to change, you must change. If you need to hire a professional in leadership and practice management, do it now or act to make changes in taking back control of your practice and your life. Take more time to interact with your patients and staff with a positive approach to each. Compliments and kind words work wonders. Remember that many people face what you face, and you are not alone.

Want help managing your practice and eliminating burnout? Call McKenzie Management today for a customized business training course.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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