When you are lying in a hospital ICU bed, as an injured or ill dentist you will have many concerns. You have obligations and are responsible for the welfare of your family, staff, and patients. These emotional and financial pressures can be enormous. Your risks of such an event occurring are high. Well documented research proves that one in four practicing dentists will become disabled during their working career. Many of these disabilities are permanent. It is sad, but reality. Understanding the feelings and emotions that you will experience will help you survive.
Suddenly stopping the active practice of dentistry involuntarily is devastating to a dedicated dentist. You have devoted a significant portion of your life in pursuit of your rewarding career. It doesn’t matter whether you were involved in a severe accident or diagnosed with cancer. The end result may be the end of your dental career. We hope that you will be able to return to active practice, but understand that this is not always possible. Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster. The same feelings you have if one of your friends or relatives die in an accident will manifest themselves when disability strikes you.
Be prepared for grief. It is an integral part of recovery. The emotions that you will experience can come in waves; and you will experience the different emotions individually, in sequence, or all at once. The five stages of grief are forever related to dental disability. Look to our prior posting on denial DENIAL THE DENTAL DISABILITY WOLF and depression DEFY DENTAL DISABILITY DEPRESSION. In addition, anger and bargaining are your companion; you will not get to acceptance for a while. Think in strategic terms not tactical. You want to win the war. You will lose some battles, but you are in this for the long run. Don’t let this overwhelm you. Take your time and fight back day by day. Think about hours not months.
We have previously reviewed the power of TED talks. Review hundreds of posted TED talks on Y-TUBE. They have power and have changed lives. In 10-20 minutes, a presenter can take you on a meaningful journey to understanding and survival. Pick a subject and review all they have to offer. The topics are unlimited and very relevant to DISABILITY. For example, take a look at the attached video on the adventure of grief.
The first thing you need to concentrate on is survival. Following that, you need to sit down and determine how bad you are hurt or how sick you really are. You may not know the answer, and your pursuit of recovery and rehabilitation will help. If you are able to return to work, we congratulate your persistence. If this is not the case, the time may come that you begin thinking about transition.
Transition has many meanings in the context of disability. It may mean moving your practice to a new location, selling your current practice, or entering a totally unrelated field. In the end is your choice is yours, and the most important aspect is you are alive and still of value. Consider transitioning into dental education, dental consulting, or dental volunteer missions. The possibilities are endless. For those of you who are newly disabled look to our posting on the ten steps to survival.TEN STEPS TO SURVIVE DISABILITY.
Our title today concerns the termination of active dental practice, not you. As we reviewed, the grief that accompanies disability is exactly the same as the grief associated with the loss of a loved one. Be prepared for this and find your own path to life and survival. Knowing that these emotions are common for us all may be comforting to some, but just knowing you are not alone is key. TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.
WE ARE DENTISTS HELPING OTHER SICK AND INJURED DENTISTS, WE CARE.