Career, Continuing Education

Course Notes: Combatting Professional Burnout in Dental Hygiene

By Young Dental on April, 19 2021
Course Notes: Combatting Professional Burnout in Dental Hygiene
Young Dental

We take great pride in developing innovative dental hygiene products that are manufactured in the USA.

Each week, Young Innovations hosts a free CE course for dental hygienists, covering a variety of topics taught by clinicians from all walks of the profession. Whether you missed the live webinar or were able to attend, these course notes are intended to support clinicians with quick, digestible takeaways from our CE courses.

Exhaustion. Frustration. Stress.

Does this describe your day in the op? If so, you're not alone. Here's what burnout looks like in the dental hygiene profession, along with some steps you can take to overcome it.

What is burnout?
The World Health Organization defines burnout as a phenomenon that results as a reaction to repeated stress and manifests as loss of energy, increased desire to take a mental break from co-workers, feelings of negativity, and loss of productivity and/or efficiency in the workplace.

What causes burnout in the dental profession?
The top two reasons dental professionals reported burnout on a recent survey, conducted by Carlynn Marshall, RDH, are: negative work environment and feeling under-appreciated.

How do you combat burnout?
You are in control of how you feel at work! Look at the facts of a situation instead of letting negative thoughts lead to feelings such as anger, frustration, stress, anxiety and being overwhelmed. It’s not the facts that cause your negative feelings; it’s your thoughts about the facts that are causing you to feel a certain way.

Here’s an example of that thought cycle:

Fact: It took 10 minutes to complete the patient exam and now you’re late seating your next patient.
Thought: My time/schedule is not respected.
Feelings: Frustration

  • When you feel frustrated, you may: tell your next patient that it’s the dentist’s fault that you’re late; be rushed and impersonal to the next patient; be moody for the rest of the day; take out your frustration on other team members; beat yourself up internally for not finding a different office; or search for job openings on your lunch break. The list can go on and on!
  • The result of this cycle is that you had a stressful and frustrating day.
  • Why did you have a stressful and frustrating day?

Understanding your thought process can change your life! If you love being a dental hygienist, don’t let your mind convince you that you must leave the profession to be happy.

What else can we do?
Invest in yourself! An office must provide what you need to treat patients, but they’re not required to provide what you want – there’s a difference. Dental hygienists typically love anything that makes their jobs easier, such as loupes/lighting, ergonomic seating, new ultrasonic tips, sharp or even sharpen-free instruments and continuing education courses on topics that interest you.

Find products and continuing education courses that interest you! When it comes to continuing education requirements, don’t focus on it being a requirement for licensure; focus on topics that make your career more rewarding, are fun, or help you learn what’s new or innovative that will help you and your patients.

Another great way to combat burnout is to find a mentor, life coach or a positive, like-minded person or group that can help reignite your love for the profession. Also, being a mentor to somehow can help you just as much.

Read more on burnout
Learn more about burnout in dental hygiene and how you can address it:

Ready to invest in yourself? Download our catalog and explore our sharpen-free instruments.

American Eagle Instruments Catalog

Submit a Comment

Stay up to date