Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Dentists - Charge the Batteries and Change the Scene

Here is another guest post from our client Dr. Lurie on his "Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned".

It seems to me that in the course of practice, there comes a time to charge the batteries and change the scene. This can be both physical as well as mental (emotional). Allow me to ramble on this one for a few minutes. You leave the house at the same hour every day for a routine drive to the office, usually over the same route, and arrive at a destination that you have seen every day, with the same people, decor, aroma, and basic schedule. This goes on for days, weeks, months and years. It is, of course, the office and we accept this as our workplace and how it fits into our daily routine of work. Now, think about the few days that were different. Perhaps there was a traffic jam, an early morning meeting, a half day of continuing education, a birthday celebration that the entire staff is helping to celebrate. Was not this a day that was different and "charged the batteries"?

This leads me to think about ways and efforts that can be incorporated into our work lives that can do this on an occasion and have long lasting effects and advantages.  I remember a time when I could not stand my private office.  It was the same four walls that I worked in for many years.  I wasn't even aware that it was dragging me down until my wife popped in one day and suggested that we must do something about this.  And then, we turned it into an office project with the staff and a decorator, with input from everyone.  Of course, this would come back to haunt me later on.  Anyway, it was fun and it really did give me a tremendous emotional lift and it became a place where I could recharge the batteries, work, and interact with the patients in a non-dental setting.  So this is an example of a physical change.  Gradually, these changes took place in the waiting room, the business office, and, most importantly, the staff lounge.  This was a tremendous boost for all of us and we had again, found a sanctuary that we all could share.  Incidentally, this became the room for the "dreaded staff meetings" that I discussed in a previous blog.  But you get my point - a fun way to change the monotony of the place where so many hours are spent.   The added benefit of "team" input was great and this, of course, adds the emotional benefit of the revision.  The energy in the office was off the wall and lasted for years as we all became closer, knowing that this was our project and our stamp.  Obviously, our staff turn-over was minimal and staff was on-board for many years.  So the uplift in decor helped in many directions. 

With this in mind, I tried to think of things that would keep us energized and focused.  These would fall into the mental (emotional) category.  An example would include all special occasions that the staff wanted to share----birthdays, anniversaries, and other celebrations were welcomed and planned.  The planning of the event was the key and time was set aside in the work day for this.  I think that this is part of the whole recharging of the battery that I mentioned earlier.  The routine was changed, the day was different, and the effect lasted for quite some time.  These are just examples but I think you get the picture.  One could add: trips, meetings (both professional and social - i.e.museum of art trip with spouses), or joining with another office for a continuing education evening, or a fashion show at a department store, etc...  The possibilities are endless but I urge you to consider them for your own peace of mind and to add the activity of "fun" into the practice. 

Another area that I found had a profound effect on managing stress was an activity that we called "Mentoring of the Patients" and I will tease you with this and discuss it in my next article.

More Mistakes Mad and Lessons Learned next time.  As always, I would love to hear from you and share your ideas and experiences.

Dr. Donald B. Lurie
Phone:  717-235-0764

Cell:      410-218-2228

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