Lend an Ear to a Fellow Dentist
It’s midweek, and you have a schedule that somehow just went way south. A staff member just informed you of a situation that will affect your schedule. An insurance claim denial waits on your desk to be appealed. Oh, and you just remembered you’re up for CPR renewal, and darn it, that model trimmer is still leaking. You know, it’s a typical day in our field. Needless to say, the drive home can sometimes be pretty serene despite the Google traffic GPS map showing dense red lines everywhere.
But what happens when you get through the door at home? It must be nice to have a spouse or partner or parent who is a dentist and “gets it” when we narrate the ups and downs of our day. (Though, I’ll admit it’s refreshing to delve into the day of someone far removed from my tooth world.) What if we don’t have dentists waiting at home to hear us out? Do they find our stories boring? Repetitive? My favorite response to my own animated description of dental practice was, “Well, you wanted to be a dentist,” when I used to have my mother as my audience. And that was if my day was bad; when I was ecstatic about a case outcome or felt good that day, my joy might have only been my own. She always smiled and, with good intention, replied with nice comments, but did she get it?
As dentists, we carry a plethora of burdens. We must be mini-specialists (my coined phrase) in business administration, law and ethics, staff management, insurance policies, human resources, risk management, and on and on. Almost all of these things, I might add, we had to learn on our own. We are not only responsible for our own work and income, but that of our staff as well. That is a hefty burden on our shoulders. Who would empathize with us better than other dentists?
This is why camaraderie is so important in this profession. It provides us with constructive support that our loved ones or staff members may not be able to provide. I find that study clubs, dental meetings, board meetings and courses are venues where we can vent about our highs and lows and seek genuine empathy alongside sincere praise. Call me naive; perhaps dentists are more competitive with one another. But the most beloved listeners to my good and bad have been those who have walked in my shoes — because they get it.