Allyson Pollock – We need hands-on public health expertise.

Allyson Pollock can be relied upon to speak truth to power, but should they have listened?

The government has released its scientific evidence, which sheds light on the fiasco and the catastrophe that is unfolding economically, socially, and health wise. It also highlights the lack of public health input and the decimation of the speciality and expertise in communicable disease control prior to and after the Health & Social Care Act 2012. There appears to be no public health evidence from experienced physicians in communicable disease control and their teams.

Full Post HERE

COVID-19: too little, too late?

I had to post a couple of pieces on Covid-19, not my words but those who are far more eloquent than me. I doubt anyone will read these but it made me feel better to share them.

Worth reading and considering. I have received half a dozen emails today trying to sell me “stuff”, from courses to scanners, using the epidemic/pandemic as an excuse – most of them are only fit for the Desperate Marketing column of Private Eye.

I wanted to read something better.

“So governments have to choose between public health and the economy.

This is, ultimately, the message of this Editorial in The Lancet:”

…..So far, evidence suggests that the colossal public health efforts of the Chinese Government have saved thousands of lives. High-income countries, now facing their own outbreaks, must take reasoned risks and act more decisively. They must abandon their fears of the negative short-term public and economic consequences that may follow from restricting public freedoms as part of more assertive infection control measures.

From the same source John Naughton :

Bill Gates on the coming pandemic

 

Are You Working Too Much?

From the HBR. Link to original article here.

Your performance dips after an amount of time, no matter who you are. I have clients who work no longer than three hours without a half-hour break whilst I have met others who claim to go through ten hours without a gap. I wouldn’t want to be their last patient of the day.

In the same way that we can arrive at our motorway junction without being aware of passing the last three, auto-pilot does exist in every walk of life. In my full on NHS days when I was desperate for income I often reached the end of the day and only knew that I had seen some of the patients because my notes told me so. (I was always relatively good at writing notes, thanks to my house job habits). Frequently I would fall asleep doing paperwork at the end of the day or drive home and kip in the car in my drive just like the man in the photo. But I always took holidays, there was never a time after my son was born that there wasn’t at least one, usually two holidays in the book.

Now time management is one of the big things that I work on with my clients, there’s no point in being successful with no time to enjoy the benefits of success.

As an older dentist once said to me, “nobody lies on their death bed wishing they had spent more time drilling teeth”.

This article caught my eye. Especially the questions.

  • We all need to shift into high gear from time to time, but how can you tell if you are pushing yourself too hard?
  • Watch out for some of these telltale signs. When was the last time you took some time away from work?
  • Consistently putting off vacations, working over major holidays, or regularly working weekends are all signals that you’re burning the candle from both ends.
  • Another sign is deprioritizing personal relationships.
  • If your social invitations have dried up because your friends assume you’re not available, you are probably too focused on work.
  • Also, be aware of your behavior when you do take time to be with people outside of work. Are you fully present?
  • While it’s normal to think about work periodically, it becomes a problem when you’re not able to manage your urge to check your phone or respond to emails and texts right away.
  • If you see any of these signs, take some time to reflect on whether you have enough balance in your life.
  • After all, being too wrapped up in work isn’t good for you or your performance.

…and I thought self control was always a good thing.

Sometimes you have to admit that everything you thought was wrong was (possibly) right. Could it be that all those good habits, all that resisting temptation and weeks of denial were for nothing?

Is it possible that beating myself up after the third chocolate digestive and saying “no” to things that would have been fun but would have distracted me from my goals may well have done me more good than harm?

I now find out that there is a “Dark Side” to self control. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Kokoris and Stavrova point out the downsides of resisting temptation.

It is true that people with strong self control have better health, relationships, finances and careers and fewer problems with overeating, overspending, procrastination and unethical behaviour.

However there is a downside:

Self control:

  • Can restrict emotional experiences.

  • May lead to long term regret.

  • Can lead to increased workload.

  • Can be used for ill.

  • Isn’t for everyone.

  • Can lead to long term bias.

Before being full on about “self control” perhaps we should practice some “self compassion”, learn to know and like ourselves, perhaps cut ourselves a little slack and be more realistic.

Read the full paper HERE

I’ll have another marshmallow now please.

You don’t have to do this…”Things They Didn’t Teach You at Dental School”

An excerpt from the forthcoming book, “101 Things They Didn’t Teach You at Dental School”

“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Polonius. Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3.

Is Dentistry really what you want to do? You don’t have to.

Many dentists made the decision about what to study at university in their mid-teens. A time of life that is short on maturity, experience and insight. Parents, teachers and career advisers see dentistry as a well-remunerated, socially acceptable profession with a good secure future. 

Unfortunately a number of dentists are ill suited to a profession that makes extensive physical, mental and emotional demands. How many of us have the nerve to say that it’s not what we want?

After 5 years as an undergraduate and carrying a large student debt it is a very brave new graduate who would dare tell their parents and family that they have chosen the wrong subject to study. Humanities and pure sciences graduates would be fortunate to continue with their subjects. It is only the vocational degree where the graduate is able, or expected, to follow the career pathway without a second thought.

Socially, to turn away is akin to leaving your fiancée at the altar, yet an individual is to be admired for admitting that they don’t feel the commitment needed to make a happy marriage. 

Turn things on their head, if you know in your heart of hearts that you are unfulfilled and unhappy being a dentist isn’t it better to say so sooner than later? How many more miserable years do you want to tolerate? How much stress and heartache can you endure once you have admitted to yourself that you’re in the wrong place? 

There are far too many dentists who have plodded on through their BDS and Foundation Training then on to associate posts and partnerships without considering the future or an alternative.

They think this is the way that it has to be, it will get better, easier, less of trial to get out of bed in the morning – next year. Living from holiday to holiday they get little fulfilment from the work they do or the people for whom they are supposed to care. 

Often these are the ones who succumb to the stressors. The use of alcohol and other drugs, gambling or other addictions along with failed relationships are commonplace.

I have attended funerals of apparently happy and successful dentists who have taken their own lives because they could only see that one way out.

These problems are not unique to dentists and many people as Thoreau put it “live lives of quiet desperation”. 

What else is possible? 

Answer – anything that you want to be. There are ex-dentists who are successful architects, writers, lawyers, and musicians. I know a former orthodontist who now builds dry stone walls (and will teach you how to build them too). The discipline of your training means that you are suited to re-train.

Stuck in a government-devised rut, which rewards quantity not quality?

If you want to change then say so, and do something about it. This isn’t a rehearsal; there is no second chance at life, no re-run. If you want to be better, nobody else can do it for you.

 

Do dental patients know what they want?

Do (Dental) patients know what they want?

A recent article in the British Medical Journal discussed the instruction from Health Education England that patients and public should be consulted on ‘What they need from 21st century medical graduates’.

I’m reminded of Henry Ford: ‘If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me – “A faster horse!”’.

Steve Jobs, added: ‘People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

‘That’s why I never rely on market research.

‘Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.’

Prevention

If we’d asked people 50 years ago they wouldn’t have mentioned prevention and treatment of dementia in a reply.

Indeed, it is likely they would not have considered prevention at all.

Would they have suggested smoke-free workplaces, public houses and restaurants?

If the same question is asked of dental patients, ‘painless’, ‘free’ and ‘always available’ might be high on the list.

Two decades ago, a desire for straight white teeth without much ‘drilling’ would probably have been included as desirable.

But not considered possible by most dental patients.

The revolution in general (dental) practice driven by a desire to deliver an alternative to disease-driven repair care with minimally invasive, patient centred, cosmetic care was not anticipated.

Similarly, putting dentistry at the heart of general medical care would scarcely be an expectation or demand from most of the population – were they even to be asked.

Yet we know that the future must embrace the concept of ‘putting the mouth back in the body’.

Dentistry’s task is to take Job’s words and not only read but also write things not yet on the page.

Who knows where that might take the next generation of dentists?

First published in Dentistry.co.uk

The more things change…

From the editorial in the current BDJ

Each generation believes that it discovers everything for the first time and suffers each difficulty anew. Is it that a certain personality type was (and is still) attracted to dentistry? If so, does this partly explain today’s burnout statistics as much as it did then? ‘In 1913, Dormer was declared bankrupt, which he stated was caused by continuing ill-health … he had left his previous job as an assistant due to a nervous breakdown but had been unable to work up a business sufficiently large to meet his living expenses, been in financial difficulties for some years and had taken loans from money lenders.’

As usual a great read, and I’ve never been to Bexhill-on-Sea either.

 

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