Dentist Work-Life Balance: How to Run Your Practice and Enjoy Life

Dentistry can make for a rewarding career, but dentist work-life balance may sometimes be elusive, especially if you run your own practice.

Juggling the competing demands of caring for your patients, growing your business, and managing your staff – to say nothing of your personal life – can take a toll on both your physical and mental health.

The good news is that there are steps you can take that may help you become more productive in the workplace, be more present in your personal life, and improve your overall wellbeing.

Getting Dentist Work-Life Balance Right May Require a More Flexible Approach Than You Might Think

In its broader sense, the phrase “work-life balance” refers to a more or less equal distribution of your working hours and the time you devote to your personal life. However, if you work as a dentist and run your own practice, separating work from life may be particularly challenging.
When you wear two hats – those of a healthcare professional and an entrepreneur – it may be more helpful (and far more realistic) to take a holistic view of your professional and personal life instead. Consider finding a rhythm that works for you without worrying about splitting your time equally between the two. 

In any case, maintaining a good work-life balance can be vital to a healthy approach to work. Among other things, it may:
  • Reduce chronic stress
  • Prevent burnout
  • Improve your performance in the workplace
  • Enable you to provide better care to your patients

7 Tips on Maintaining a Healthy Work-Life Balance as a Dentist

From dental students and young dentists to established practice owners, everyone in the profession may benefit from the tips on improving work-life balance below.

However, these may be especially helpful if you are just starting your career or preparing to open your own practice. Adopting good practices early on can set you up for success in the long term.
It may also be a good idea to make a habit of assessing your work-life balance periodically.

Different stages of your career could present you with different challenges, which may require you to take a fresh approach to juggling your professional and personal life.

1. Set Hard Work Hours

Set your office hours in advance, tell your staff and patients about them, and schedule appointments accordingly. While you may need to be more flexible with dental emergencies, try to set healthy boundaries and avoid going outside your normal schedule.  

Setting hard hours can also motivate you to avoid procrastination and make more efficient use of your time, giving your full attention to the task at hand. By doing more during the day, you may be more likely to give yourself permission to relax guilt-free after office hours.

2. Learn to Delegate

The secret to a healthy dentist work-life balance may be to avoid taking on too much at once. Instead of doing everything yourself, consider surrounding yourself with people you can trust and ask them for help. Choose your staff carefully and equip them with the training and tools they need to excel at the job. 

Clear communication is usually key here, as you want your coworkers to understand the goals and culture of your practice. To that end, consider documenting your expectations and having written protocols in place to ensure optimal compliance.

3. Have Clear Goals and Priorities

Write down your personal and professional goals and identify your priorities. As you set out to pursue them, resist the urge to tackle too many things at once. Instead, identify the top three goals that could have the biggest positive impact on your work-life balance and start from there.

4. Draw Up an Action Plan

A clear and well-defined action plan can make it easier to work toward and ultimately achieve your goals. It may also help you to:
  • Make better use of your time and resources
  • Avoid overwhelming yourself with too many responsibilities
  • Set better boundaries around your personal life

5. Make Time for Things You Enjoy

Much like you block out time for work, consider setting aside non-negotiable time for:
  • Your family
  • Your friends
  • Hobbies
  • Relaxation
Doing things you enjoy may be essential for your wellbeing. However, it could take a while until you make it a habit or allow yourself to indulge in it without thinking you should be working instead. For this reason, it may be a good idea to schedule off-duty activities proactively at first.

6. Arm Yourself with the Right Tools

If you are not already doing so, consider using dental practice management software and teledentistry in your work. This can help you optimize and automate your workflows, enabling you to spend less time on tedious administrative tasks and focus on patient care and your personal life instead. 

7. Adopt a Positive Outlook

Even if you find yourself having stressful days from time to time, things may not be as bad as they seem. According to the 2020 U.S. News & World Report Best Jobs list, dentistry ranked:
  • #5 in Best Healthcare Jobs
  • #7 in Best STEM Jobs
  • #9 in Best 100 Jobs
  • #11 in Best Paying Jobs
With a median salary of $155,600, a 0.2% unemployment rate, and average stress levels, the dental profession may offer a better work-life balance than many other occupations. 

As you go about your work each day, it may also be a good idea to remind yourself that you may not be of much help to either your staff or your patients if you are overwhelmed or burnt out. Taking time to look after your physical and mental wellbeing may be critical to being the best dentist you can be. 

Dentist Work-Life Balance: Final Thoughts 

Here is one final piece of advice: malpractice claims can be stressful, overwhelming, and financially draining. 

However, by obtaining dental professional liability insurance or malpractice insurance for dental practice owners, you may be able to protect yourself and your practice from financial harm. 

This could give you some much-needed peace of mind and allow you to focus on your patients, wellbeing, and overall work-life balance. 

Get a free insurance quote.