I'm sitting at the airport, waiting to board for a week-long hygiene conference. While sitting here, of course I'm thinking about dental professionals and their ergonomics. I've decided something. We need to change our minds...
I don't care who you are, dentist, assistant, hygienist, or front desk, we all care about people. That's why we got into this business! We prioritize our patients and deliver high levels of care and treatment. We are excellent at what we do!
So, what is the downside of being a caretaker?
Typically, we are so busy focusing on others, that we forget about caring for ourselves.
This may be part of the reason for the burnout and stress we are seeing more and more these days. We are tired, perhaps in pain, and stressed. Part of this is due to the pandemic and the simple fact we work in dentistry. But part of it is due to the fact we haven't been prioritizing ourselves while at work.
Let's go ahead and change that!
One of the things I work with my clients on is mindset, and the importance of putting ourselves first. This is counterintuitive to someone who is used to caring for others and may be the most challenging part of learning ergonomics.
I advise all dental providers to go into their operatory mindfully. What I mean is thinking something like:
"How am I going to take care of myself during this procedure?"
"How do I want to feel later?"
For example, if I have a patient on my schedule that I know cannot fully recline in the chair, I think of things I can do to protect myself. I plan on standing for the majority of the appointment, use cushions to help with positioning, and plan microbreaks every 20 minutes.
The essence of ergonomics is first starting with the operator (us) and then finding ways to support us while working. This looks like starting with establishing neutral posture FIRST, then adjusting everything in our operatory to support us.
How often do you think of YOU and YOUR NEEDS before starting an appointment?