You’re no stranger to the rigours of the job – after about 12 years of formal education and training, you’re now exposed to the mental strain of figuring out teeth molds and fitting appliances, the physical challenges of constantly bending over a dental chair, and the emotional toll taken by having to monitor patients who range from the grateful to the ornery. You’ve helped new patients through the process, restored countless smiles and handled your administrative work with aplomb (hopefully not by hand, but with the invaluable aid of high quality practice management software).
But what have you done for…yourself?
If you’re not taking care of your mind and body, you could fall prey to a host of health problems ranging from depression to back pain and carpal tunnel. Don’t let your practice be the death of you. Take these simple steps and be the healthiest orthodontist you know!
1. Step Away from Work
Taking breaks is absolutely essential to your health and well-being. It can be tempting from a financial perspective to fill the chair as much as possible, even skipping lunch and breaks, but every profession demands a certain amount of ‘me’ time to prevent burnout, and orthodontics is no exception. Where possible, go outside, no matter the weather; fresh air and a change of scenery are important. At minimum, visit the staff lounge and take a moment to relax, recharge and let off stress. Use breaks for a very valuable secondary purpose: to s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Make a point of stretching on each and every break to improve circulation, posture and energy levels.
Other professions may be able to get away with simple adjustments like raising the level of a keyboard or getting a stand-up desk; orthodontists might not be quite so lucky, but with assistive appliances like head loupes and proper chairs and stools set to the proper levels for your height, you can minimize stress on your body and exercise proper posture, which in turn brings more oxygen to the body and prevents injury.
If you have a multi-practitioner practice, consider hiring dedicated assistants to help with such tasks as orienting patients and familiarizing them with services and procedures, as well as handling day to day administrative tasks. By having someone else do your presentations, prepare correspondence and handle billings, your time will be freed up for diagnostics and treatment. Sure, your practice’s bottom line will take a hit, but if the cost is spread out among several practitioners it should be well worth it. Sole practitioners could consider a part time assistant.
4. Invest in Procedures
A healthy and seamless practice doesn’t just run itself; increasing patient satisfaction and eradicating inefficiencies requires consistency. Don’t go to superhuman lengths to reinvent the wheel; just decide what procedures and service levels work best for your clinic’s culture and expectations, and then find a practice management software that can be tailored to meet them by automating tasks like sending appointment reminders, storing patient images conveniently and printing or emailing out take-home instructions for post-operative care.
5. Cover the Health Bases
You know about practicing good nutrition, remembering to breathe, seeing the proper health care professionals on a regular basis, exercising, and taking time out to smell the roses, right? Good, now go do it. In particular, taking time to get up and move around is a great way not only to release the tensions of the day but also to prevent chronic illness and lack of energy.