…on the other hand, life can be good.

A contrast from yesterday’s blog where I said that many people who work as clinicians are not suited to the job, have made decisions for the wrong reasons and are unhappy.

Dentistry is rewarding in many ways, if you get the design of your job right – and I’ll talk about that tomorrow. It pays relatively well – especially in early years, it is challenging both intellectually and physically, has social kudos, it provides ways of stimulating your interest in different areas as time progresses. There are opportunities to be your own boss, to build a business or businesses, you get to work as part of a team and above all you get the thanks and respect of your patients who you are able literally from cradle to grave.

Take a look at this recent survey from US News about highest paid and “best” jobs and see where a dental degree might take you. I am aware that most of my readers are in the UK (& Ireland) and the reason that I have used this link to help you to see what might, could and should be possible for you to achieve with your degree.

But, and its a big BUT, and at the risk of using a cliche, you must think, look and act outside the box. The climate of fear, in the UK especially, is dividing the profession, helping to keep people down and constantly looking over their shoulder for the next problem. Those who want to serve their patients, who get involved in successful clinical and therefore, business relationships will flourish. Of course there is a need for personal and business resilience to safeguard yourself. Of course you need strong and effective systems to ensure that you can serve your patients to the best of your ability.

Personal and business success is achievable in any country, any jurisdiction and any health system but it will not be delivered on a plate, it takes time, dedication and hard work – if you’re willing success will come, if you’re not then prepare to be disappointed. 

 

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.

 

It’s time to plan your holidays and down time.

My latest piece for dentistry.co.uk deals with getting enough downtime and talks about my experiences in the steelworks. Hint: always have your next break planned.

Planning holidays and down time is important to avoid breakdowns and potentially disaster, Alun Rees says.

The most physical, and dangerous, summer job I had was at the East Moors Steel Works in Cardiff.

During one 16-day period known as ‘stop fortnight’, I worked with the gang cleaning the rolling mills.

During that period, I worked daily 12-hour shifts, rising to 16 on weekends.

The significant overtime pay probably contributed to the demise of the British steel industry.

But I was glad of distraction whilst waiting for my A-level results.

Steelworks are terrifying places, which routinely run round the clock.

Exceptions being the summer ‘stop fortnight’ and Christmas when holidays were taken and the mills and some other machines were stripped down and cleaned.

What has this to do with dental businesses?….

FULL ARTICLE

The Monday Morning Quote #588


“When my information changes I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?”

Atrrib to John Maynard Keynes

although my favourite Keynes quote is:

“My greatest regret in life is that I haven’t drunk more champagne.”

The Weekend Read – How to Live on 24 Hours a Day

Probably the first time management book, written by the prolific novelist and writer Arnold Bennett was published in 1908. Its messages and lessons are still relevant and as important now than they were 112 years ago. The context has changed but the distractions have not if anything they are greater. This was part of larger work “How to Live”.

The author starts with the statement of the Daily Miracle, “You wake up in the morning, and lo! your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life! It is yours. It is the most precious of possessions. A highly singular commodity, showered upon you in a manner as singular as the commodity itself!”

He points out that, “The supply of time, though gloriously regular, is cruelly restricted.”

As Steve Jobs said, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”

Bennett points out the ways we can choose to waste time, and as this was in pre-screen days we have much more to choose from in 2020. He encourages the reader to make small but gradual changes to avoid early failures and to be happy with small victories.

If you are struggling with time management and want to take things back to fundamentals, this small book will make you think and provide sound advice for you to adapt to your needs.

There’s a good summary on Wikipedia.

Available from The Book Depository.

10/2020

 

 

The Natural Order of Things

John Naughton posted this quote from Douglas Adams on his Memex blog HERE.

“Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

I agree with the principle but not necessarily the exact ages. It made me think of the “Bell Curve” or as one person in audience corrected me, “It’s a Gaussian Distribution Curve” I have since discovered (stats not being a subject of which I retained any knowledge) it’s also known as normal distribution – or extra normal if you wish. In this case it shows the Diffusion of Innovation Theory.

As Jim Lovell (of Apollo 13 fame) said, “There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder, ‘what happened’?.” In Dentistry I think that most new graduates tend to be to the left of the midline – they are curious, learners, enquiring about the world into which they have been released so they become Early Adopters and Early Majority. As time passes, excitement is tempered by experience in many who want a “simple” life, they get into groove, which becomes a rut which is of course only a grave with the ends kicked out. They slide gradually to the right of the curve and settle into the Late Majority (watching what happens) or eventually The Laggards (what happened?).

Others get a handle on things and hit their straps later on, often realising that their jobs with businesses on the right of the midline are taking them nowhere and so they head in their own direction, start enquiring and looking into alternatives, revelling in their curiosity and enthusiasm. The tide can carry you to the left but it can be hard work and it can sweep past you and, as your energy wanes, you find yourself drifting backwards to the right being passed by “the bright young things”.

I have seen this happen with dental societies that are started with energy, flourish and then consolidate and eventually wither, plus contemporaries who finish up putting in the years until they can take their pension and get out. Other dentists I know have kept striving, looking over the edge, investing in themselves and their businesses loving what they do right until they hang up their handpieces.

  • I love working with Early Adopters and Early Majority people because they keep me on my toes.
  • Innovators tend to burn me out, but that’s fine because it’s a great ride. a blast whilst it lasts.
  • The Late Majority can be fun to push and often convert into “Earlies”.
  • Laggards just can’t see the point of anything.

 

09/2020

I have met a few like this…

From the ever excellent Savage Chickens, I’ve been both sides of the table.

2020/8

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