As a woman in dentistry, you face unique challenges and opportunities in your practice. We often juggle many responsibilities as wives, mothers, friends, colleagues, daughters, sisters, dentists, practice administrators, business owners, partners and associates. Finding the balance amongst the roles is the hard part.
Do you balance well?
Be real with yourself. Do you look forward to every day with excitement about the new opportunities it might bring? Are all your team members happy and energized? Unless you’re superhuman or still a freshwoman, your answer is probably no.
So how can you balance your juggling act in a way that you catch the balls in the air before they smash on the concrete? How do you let go of the other balls at just the right moment? Do you make balance a priority on a daily basis? How can you make the biggest impact on your patients, practice, team, and life without losing yourself in the process?
Pain-points of multiple roles
When I meet and work with women in dentistry, they tell me that they struggle with two main issues:
- Balancing family, work, life, and business responsibilities. As women, we often come home to our second or third shift.
- Being considered “just one of the girls” with your team.
- And facing difficulties in making those tough business decisions.
So, how can we “look like a girl, think like a man, act like a lady and work like a boss,” as the saying goes?
What do we need to do to balance these responsibilities without dropping the ball or stretching ourselves too thin? There are four key tips I’ve found to make a significant impact on your patients, practice, team, and life.
One: Your patients
You’re a caregiver at heart.
Did you know most women make the healthcare decisions for their families? Women are natural caregivers. We have a distinct advantage as women in dentistry, because of our native ability to care.
Tap into your strength.
Look at your practice through your eyes as a woman and strategize with your team about how you can improve other women’s lives through the care you provide. And how about children’s lives? Highlight these areas.
Learn to communicate well.
You must also become a master communicator. When you become a master of effective communication, this makes understanding and appreciating others less complex. It’s ironic that being a good communicator means you are also a good listener! Good listening skills are paying attention to the other person’s tone and body language, and then acknowledging and summarizing what’s been said.
When people and team members take the time to exchange information, misperceptions are less likely to occur. Misinterpretations are minimized and problems are circumvented when team members actively listen to each other. Building communication skills in the workplace can be challenging, but it is a kingpin in the pursuit of balance.
Communication skills establish and promote positive human relations among your team while building quality relationships with your patients. Thus, improving communication lines with patients will definitely increase your profitability. Happier patients refer others, and that in turn raises productivity among your team members.
Two: Your practice
Focus on your goals.
Start by asking yourself, “Where am I now?” If you don’t know that first, you won’t know how to get to where you want to be. Where are you struggling? Once you know that, you can start troubleshooting. If you are looking for ways to redistribute your workload and responsibilities, could you partner with and another like-minded dentist?
Plan your balance.
If you’re not able to balance work and home well, and that’s a goal of yours, could you set your office hours around your home routines? For example, seeing patients from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. could allow you to be home with your family in the afternoons and plan for dinner, homework, and other responsibilities. Most women in dentistry can see patients three days per week and be very productive and efficient.
Three: Your team
Empower your team.
Empowered women on a team are unstoppable! Look for ways to delegate responsibilities to your fellow-women. It will empower them. Strategize team learning experiences, so you can all learn and grow together for the benefit of your patients. You may also need to identify issues with your team members and determine how to best turn them around.
Keep communication open.
Sometimes, you need to clear the channels of communication with your team in order to move forward. Be a leader in communicating. Build bridges so that your team feels an openness and acceptance from you. Make sure they know what you are thinking. And make sure they have freedom to talk too.
Have an expert team of advisors to support your life and practice vision. Some of these may include your spouse, a nanny, personal assistant, housekeeper, practice-management consultant, or life coach. Find a CPA focused on dentists (I highly recommend the ADCPA- Academy of Dental CPAs), attorney, personal banker, dental sales representative for dental supplies and equipment, and a dental lab. And don’t forget your colleagues! The advisors on your team can help you reach your personal and professional goals while maintaining your ideal work-life balance.
We must also stay focused on the positive. How can you positively persuade the team’s thinking to be on track with your goals? Do all of your team members have clearly-defined job responsibilities? Is there team accountability? Is it time to get rid of the “one bad apple” to ensure the team remains on a positive, upbeat course?
Four: Your life
Balance work and play.
Work hard and play hard! Take time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. This will give you a sense of personal and professional satisfaction when you take time to enjoy your life!
Take time for yourself.
Take some “me time” to think, dream, rejuvenate, strategize, and plan. As women, we are natural nurturers, and it’s easy to put ourselves at the bottom of our priority list. So, we must remind ourselves that we are far more productive and efficient when we are well rested and NOT exhausted! Do you feel like your life is out of balance or well balanced? Are you burned out, or are you on fire?
Good news for your juggling act!
The good news about being a woman in dentistry is that it affords us unique opportunities to help our patients be healthier, have a practice that is healthy, have a happy and productive team, and live a balanced life. My hope is that you start to look forward to every day with excitement about the new things it may bring. Our finest moments occur when we tap into our inner strength and shine by balancing our juggling act!