A Dental Protection survey of dentists in the UK reveals increasing levels of burnout among the profession. Half of the respondents (50%) indicated that they have considered leaving the profession for reasons of personal wellbeing. The same amount (50%) are dissatisfied with their work/life balance and 60% of those surveyed said they found it difficult to take a short break.
In its new report – “Breaking the burnout cycle” – Dental Protection says burnout creates problems not just for the dentist involved but can impact patients and the wider dental team. It calls on dental organisations to consider establishing a ‘Wellbeing Guardian’ so dentists have access to a named person who has undergone the required training to recognise burnout and offer the necessary support. It also calls for dentists’ wellbeing to be included amongst other Key Performance Indicators.
Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection said: “Dentistry can be a very rewarding profession - being able to play an important part in the health and quality of life of the public is a privilege and gives a sense of pride. However, when I talk to dentists throughout UK, it is clear that morale is low, and well-being issues are rising up the professional agenda.
“Dentists experiencing burnout are likely to be more error-prone which can compromise the quality of care provided for their patients or deliver substandard care at work; they are less empathic, less able cognitively and this behaviour can have a negative impact on colleagues, teams and the organisation.
“I am proud of the work Dental Protection does to support members suffering from burnout through our education and risk management programmes. We encourage dentists to reduce their exposure to burnout by reviewing the working environment and workload and adopting a proactive approach to developing resilience to reduce the risk of burnout and its consequences.
“We could also go further and consider the significant impact of the underlying systemic factors that contribute to burnout. Efforts to minimise the harmful effects of burnout will only bear fruit when these underlying causes have been adequately addressed.
“We believe that if our recommendations are taken seriously it will help to mitigate the personal and professional risks associated with burnout in the profession.”
One anonymous Dental Protection member added: “The bureaucracy with CQC, GDC, NHS, and the constant fear of litigation - just because we are the number one target - are making this profession difficult to perform and enjoy and add to the burnout feeling. No other profession seems to have the same regulation and punishment as dentistry.”
Another Dental Protection member said: “Dentistry is a uniquely lonely, high pressured career. We spend our entire day caring for others no matter the cost to ourselves.”