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Balancing Work and Life as a Young Dentist

in Your Health

Balancing Work and Life as a Young Dentist

Rachel Pino, an Australian young dentist walks us through some helpful tips to maintain that all important work/life balance as a young dentist.

Let's face it; dental school was a tough trot. Sure, the social events and friendships that we made kept us going through the rough times. However there were times when we just felt burned out.

Life as a graduate is seen to be the ultimate freedom from the burden of clinics, exams and assignments, a time to rejoice at the thought of no more late nights of study. Sometimes life has a funny way of shocking us and it might just turn out that your job is more stressful than originally envisaged, let's not also forget the daily pressures of life outside work too.

So how can we minimise daily stresses and still be productive? While adrenaline kicks are helpful in motivating us through the busy and stressful moments, if we rely too heavily on adrenaline alone we end up being burned out as opposed to fired up.

I spoke with some of my senior colleagues and friends about this issue and also considered my own personal life and came up with the following list of tips and lessons learnt thus far; Of course not all of these ideas are going to work for everyone, however I am yet to meet a working professional who has found the holy grail of the sacred 'work/life' balance.

  1. Minimise Clinical Stress: use the experience and mentoring guidance of senior dentists in your practice as much as possible. Ask for their opinion before you start a surgical extraction, it's interesting to learn how another practitioner would approach a procedure. Experience is key, over time we learn what does and doesn't work best in each clinical scenario, use the wisdom and expertise of your seniors. They too will remember what it is like to be fresh out of dental school.
  2. Be Realistic: remember that experience is key. New graduates will need longer appointments for crown and bridge preparations and difficult extractions. Find a practice that will support you as a young dentist and give you more generous appointments to begin with. Stress due to time constraints is a problem that most practitioners face early in their career. Don't be unrealistic and expect that you will work at the same pace as your colleagues who have had ten or more years of experience greater than yourself.
  3. Consider Your Hours: working six or seven days a week is a great way to quickly reach financial goals, yet will ultimately take a mental and physical toll. Try to balance the equation and find out what best suits your commitments at home. Regular days off will allow you to unwind and enjoy your social life and the occasional holiday gives you something to look forward to and a goal to reach.
  4. Take time to smell the roses: push yourself to get outside and be active every day. Taking your dog for a walk or just putting on your headphones and going for a stroll will give you the chance to realise that life continues outside of your dental practice. Enjoy the sunshine and the fresh air. It is amazing how some of the simplest things can also be the most pleasurable.
  5. Stay in Touch: Organise catch up dates with friends that you went to university with, whether at a local café or via Skype. Share your stories from work and also talk about life outside of work. These friends are invaluable, chances are they have seen you at your best and also your worst.
  6. Look After Number One: Your body is a temple, so treat it like gold. It is difficult to enjoy your days off when getting out of bed is a struggle. Take the time to incorporate stretching and/or massages into your diary, your back will thank you. Also, try substituting your espressos for water throughout the working day, overdosing on caffeine has the ability to make the mellowest of us go into anxiety overdrive.

So in reality, achieving a good work/life balance needn't be a chore. Perhaps if we all take time in our busy lives to focus on ourselves, then we can approach each day at work with a little more Zen and a whole lot less stress.

Rachel Pino


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