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Feeling the burn(out)? For dental office managers, support is within reach

Feb. 17, 2022
The hustle and bustle of daily life on top of coping with a pandemic adds up to burnout for many office managers. But don't despair! Support is available.

Looking back on the past quarter, I can’t help but be amazed by all the things we have fit into 15+ weeks. Just think of all that we have accomplished and gone through since September!

I’m sure many of you, like me, experienced end-of-summer vacations, back-to-school craziness, fall sports, and football season. Many of us attended the American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM) Conference in Orlando in September, which was an amazing and much-needed recharge after 18 months of keeping our practices alive.

Post-conference, we experienced a newfound energy and fire to put our action plans to work. Meetings were scheduled: team meetings, chapter meetings, leadership meetings; you get it—a lot of meetings! We set end-of-year goals, discussed office production, and of course dealt with broken schedules.

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Then came the family sickness, team sickness, and patient sickness. We celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, more holidays, and even more holidays.

Then out of nowhere—boom!—it’s a new year, and we have no idea where the time went. As we know, the new year brings its own chaos. It’s easy for our lives to become quite overwhelming, exhausting, frustrating, defeating, and debilitating; all the “ings”! Am I right?

So, how do we keep all these feelings and experiences in check? How do we stay balanced so our scales don’t tip and suddenly we find ourselves so deep into burnout that we are not only struggling to thrive, but to survive?

What is burnout?

I recently read an article written by Andrew Goldsmith, DDS, titled, "How to avoid dental burnout." Dr. Goldsmith explains how dental burnout is more common than most understand, with 84% of dentists and 26% of auxiliaries admitting to feeling burned out.1 Interestingly, this article was written in 2019—I would love to see what these statistics are after the last two years.

So, what is burnout, really? By definition, burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. Some symptoms of burnout might include: insomnia, fatigue, migraines, nausea, muscle aches and a feeling of not having a purpose in life. Can you imagine feeling like your life does not have purpose? As dental office managers, we know the importance of sharing our practice’s purpose (mission statement). We even take time to write it down and commit to it with our teams so we live it daily in our offices.

Now is the perfect time to do a self-assessment. Check-in with your doctors, your teams, and don’t forget about your peers and fellow dental colleagues. Inquire about how are they doing in their professional lives; are they struggling? Are they thriving?

In Dr. Goldsmith’s article, he shared five key strategies to help not only avoid burnout, but to break free from it:1

  • Make your work environment empowering
  • Take control of your schedule
  • Feel fairly compensated
  • Improve and maintain your physical and mental health
  • Engage in dentistry and diversify

The last item was an eye opener for me. “Engage in dentistry and diversify.” He shared how important it is to couple the enhancement of your professional knowledge with diversifying your work by developing supportive relationships.1

Rely on your support system

Through AADOM, I’ve found this support, as many of my colleagues and peers have. I truly believe I have the absolute best support system in dentistry, but even I had to ask myself, “Do I utilize this benefit to its fullest?” Yes, our chapter holds meetings to network with other dental professionals. But a supportive relationship is a relationship that brings mutual benefit to both parties, helping them to cope with the tough times and maximize the good times. Supportive relationships help reduce stress and improve an individual’s general health and well-being. Supportive relationships enable you to achieve more than you ever could on your own.

When AADOM members say, “You are not alone,” we mean it! We are all in this together!

So again, I encourage you, do a self-check. If you’re feeling alone, feeling stressed, possibly burned out, reach out and ask for help. We are here for each other. We’ve got this!


  1. Goldsmith A. How to avoid dental burnout. Dentistry Today. January 4, 2019. https://www.dentistrytoday.com/how-to-avoid-dental-burnout/