|Burnout will ruin your life. It can lead to harmful vices like
alcohol and drug addictions, extramarital affairs, and a litany of
self-destructive behavior. Burnout has also killed. It’s sad. It’s
depressing. And it must be stopped. One huge contributing factor
in burnout is your environment.
There are only 168 hours in a week. You spend (roughly) 56
of those hours asleep. You spend 40 of them in your dental office,
which equates to 23.8 percent of time each week. About a quarter
of your life will be spent at work in your practice. Knowing
this, what do some of you do?
You settle on renting out some
ugly, dingy, ridiculous 1,500-
square-foot office, in which
you cannot stand to practice.
There are no amenities whatsoever.
You don’t have a break
room or even a private office
where you can turn on CNN
and chill out for a few minutes.
There isn’t any space in your practice where you can put your feet
up. The second you walk in, you want to go back home to where
your favorite projects are like your garden or your golf clubs or
your grill. When you wake up in the morning, you dread the day
ahead. Your office sets the scene, and guys, this scene is grim.
This is hugely dysfunctional.
For those of you who practice like this every single day, get
this: real estate is selling at a 20-year low! In the 10 largest real
estate markets in the United States, the pricing is down about 35
percent on average. Wake up, guys! Now is the time to get out
of that soul-sucking hellhole you’ve been renting for the last
dozen years and lock in a mortgage at a low interest rate and get
a nice, breathable commercial location at two-thirds the price!
But you have to be smart about the space you buy.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, don’t be the
guy on the third floor of a medical building where you have no
visibility, no walk-ins, and where you have to spend half of your
budget on marketing just to get people in the neighborhood to
realize your practice even exists.
I love coming to work every day. Know why? I own my own
land. I own my own building. I share a parking lot with a
Safeway grocery store, a Walgreens and a bank. It’s “mom central”
over here (remember who makes the most appointments)!
I get one or two walk-ins every day. My practice is visible on all
sides from about a quarter mile away on a busy street. Inside my
office I have a break room, my own office space, a fridge, TV
and radio. If I need a break, I’ve got somewhere I can take it. I
try to make the office as comfy for myself as I do my patients.
Why don’t you?
Some dentists will buy themselves a boat or a cabin or a
Harley Davidson because, hey, why not? They’re fun! But what
fun stuff do you have at the office that makes it worth commuting
to every day?
I’m often approached by
dentists who ask me if I
think they should buy a
laser or CAD/CAM or a
digital X-ray. I always think
back to my four boys when
they were little and playing
in the sandbox. If you put
them in the sandbox with
no toys, they’d get up and leave! But if you threw a bunch of
bulldozers and trucks and pails and shovels in there, they’d stay
there until they died from starvation!
So, you want to know if I think you should get a laser?
When dentists approach me to find out what I think about
lasers, I usually throw the question back at them. I ask, “What
do you think about lasers?” First thing I see is a sparkle in their
eyes. Then they say, “I just think a laser would be really cool.”
I don’t care what you use a laser for, and I can tell you that
you could probably run a really good practice without a laser.
But if you think a laser is really cool and it gets you excited
about doing dentistry – like you’ve got 19 speeding tickets in
the last week because you can’t wait to get to work – you can’t
afford not to have one in your sandbox!
Same thing goes for CAD/CAM. I can’t tell you how many
dentists have asked me if I think they should get a CEREC or
E4D. Again, do you want to buy a one because you think it will
lower your lab bill and you will actually make more money?
That’s certainly true, but should you buy it for that reason? Yes! Duh! It will significantly lower your lab bill! The thing pays for
itself! It is a solid return on investment.
What’s even more important is the dentists who have
invested in CAD/CAM think it’s really cool and it gets them
excited every day to come into the office and work with it. That
excitement spills over to your staff and your patients. Pretty
soon, everybody who walks in and out of your practice is rockin’
and rollin’, and cranked up to 11! That enthusiasm increases
word-of-mouth referrals and decreases your desire to retire early.
What Gets You Excited?
I am 47 years old. I graduated from dental school in 1987. I
have been at this for 23 years. I am telling you I don’t get excited
anymore doing a DO filling on #4. There is no challenge there.
There is no adrenaline rush. It is just simple work. No excitement
But what does excite me is pushing myself over the years. I
got my International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI)
Diplomate. I am telling you placing an implant is a rush. There
is no way you can get bored placing an implant when you are trying
to avoid dropping into a sinus or hitting a nerve with it.
When you are placing an implant you are totally alert, totally
focused and the time flies.
Same thing with pulling wisdom teeth. Why are you referring
out all your wisdom teeth? You have to push yourself! Go to the
Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI). Go listen
to David Hornbrook lecture. Learn cosmetic dentistry. Take on a
challenging case. How can you get burned out doing upper 10
veneers on some attractive patient with a high lip line who has
really high expectations and wants them to look perfect? You
don’t burn out on something like that.
This is why I hate golf. You won’t push yourself in dentistry
but you will shell out $30,000 every year to be a member of a
country club. You’ll pay $100 an hour for golf lessons. You’ll buy
the most expensive set of golf clubs you can find. Meanwhile,
you’re wasting all of your competitive instincts on golf.
If you play golf but you won’t do Invisalign or implants,
you are not a smart dentist. You need to spend those competitive
instincts and energies pushing yourself to new levels of
dentistry. I spent five entire weeks at the Pankey Institute
learning full-mouth rehabs. Push yourself. Go to The
Scottsdale Center for Dentistry and take some courses! You
love golf? Fine, come play golf while you take classes at the
Scottsdale Center. How can you listen to Frank Spear and not
want to run back to your dental office and put some of these
practices into place?
You need to make the change before it’s too late! What happens
when you burn out? First thing, you want to retire. This
means you’re putting your retirement fund under tremendous
pressure because you’re going to try to live on it earlier instead
of working longer and building it stronger.
When people retire from work, their longevity is broken up
into quartiles. The lowest quartile income of retired men only
lives three-and-a-half years and the highest quartile lives six-and-a-half years. Why do you want to retire and start that
countdown? Take a look at the godfather of dentistry, Dr.
Gordon Christensen. How old is he? In the last 12 months he
gave 84 lectures and he has more energy than any other dentist
I have met who is half his age because he loves what he is doing.
If you say to me that you want to retire early, I think it’s
something you should get counseling about. Then again, maybe
it’s nothing biological… but environmental, because you work in
a crappy office, you don’t have a laser, you don’t have CAD/CAM
and you just perform what I call burnout dentistry (cleanings,
exams, X-rays, fillings and crowns, and that’s it). You can blame
burnout on just about anything, but nine times out of 10, you’re
burned out because you caused it.
|Howard Farran, DDS, MBA, MAGD, is an international speaker who has written dozens of published articles. To schedule Howard to speak to your next national, state or local dental meeting, email email@example.com.
Dr. Farran’s next speaking engagement is September 17, 2010, at
the Greater Springfield Dental Society in Springfield, Missouri. For more information, please call Colleen at 480-445-9712.
|September 17, 2010 • Springfield, MO
Greater Springfield Dental Society
|September 25, 2010 • Bonita Springs, FL
|October 11-12, 2010 • Orlando, FL
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