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Mental Health Is Just as Important for Dental Health Practitioners

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mental health-dental health-health practitioners-working environment-deo-dentist

Dr. Eric Roman from the Dentist Entrepreneur Organization discusses the importance of workplace mental health for dental practitioners.

Dentists and oral health practitioners are some of the least satisfied workers in the country. Despite offering careers with high salaries and job security, dentistry regularly reports low job satisfaction and happiness.

Dr. Eric Roman, a dentist and executive coach for the Dentist Entrepreneur Organization (DEO), says that the high demand for precision and the dissatisfaction from patients creates a stressful working environment. “Look at reviews online for healthcare providers,” Roman says. “They are extraordinarily low. Most doctors have a below-three score online, which means our customers aren’t happy with what we’re providing. Yet, as a healthcare professional, we’re doing everything that we can to improve health.”

Roman is a co-founder of joyFULL People and Traction for Dental, two support groups for dental practitioners that were acquired by DEO. Roman says that explicitly voicing the problems is the first step in improving working conditions for dentists. “The truth is that most generations prior to this one haven’t talked about it,” Roman says. “It’s been sitting there, it’s been an issue, but nobody’s wanted to discuss it. This is the first generation that’s sitting there and saying, I can’t live like this.”

Prioritizing mental health

The DEO began as an organization set up to help business owners grow and improve their oral health businesses. However, after consulting with its initial members, the DEO realized that what oral health professionals needed was a different kind of support. “What we found is that our customers wanted to sign up to grow their business, but when we got into conversation, what we were really discovering is they needed our help to simply grow as a person, as an individual,” Roman says. “That has been a major component of our development in the past year because all of our entrepreneurs are asking for it.”

As a part of that change in focus, the DEO also provides services for people working at every level of the field, from executives to administrators. “It’s not just the physicians and the doctors, it’s also the auxiliary care members,” Roman says. “The auxiliary care members are the ones that are getting yelled at by patients who are as unhappy about their bills as the doctors are. Everybody inside of these healthcare professions is struggling with some of the challenges that have been created.”

Conversations about workplace mental health are far more common today due to a generational shift in workplace expectations and dismantling taboos. “Prior generations were content to put this under the rug and to not discuss it,” Roman says, “whereas the new generations of team members are expecting this to be discussed and addressed. That shift has put a new amount of pressure on our employment practices and how we handle it.”

As someone who has first-hand experience as a dentist, Roman knows how important it is for oral health practitioners to share their struggles and work to improve their working conditions. “We have a responsibility to say, ‘we know how difficult what you do really is, and we know how you feel, and we need to do something about it,’” Roman says. “That’s the most important starting space is creating the conversation. Obviously, after we do that, then the healthcare providers have to give us permission to talk about it more.”

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