Dentists are Type A personalities. This is without question and as with the healthcare professions in general , timidity can lead to failure and catastrophic results in patient care.   Dentist usually function independently and rarely work together simultaneously on the same patient. When all you have to rely on is yourself, development of a supreme confidence in your abilities is almost assured.  This mindset tends to carry over to the non-clinical aspects of dental practice.

Whether you are reviewing the financial health of your practice or your own personal health, the tendency to be overconfident is a known risk.  Most of us want to bypass the unpleasant aspects of life and it’s easy to deny the actual risks that are present everyday. Unnecessary worrying about the future is counterproductive and unhealthy.  Being honest about the real risks is an entirely different issue. The attitude of confidence in our dental skills can turn into a trap when evaluating known risks to our career/future.

The risk of injury or severe illness occurring during your dental career is well documented. A dentists faces a 20-30% chance of encountering a disabling event during their dental career.  Many will never return to work.  Being prepared for such an event is critically important.  Understand that such events not only affect the dentist involved, but their staff, spouse, families, and patients in profound ways.

We all know risks that we know. We also know there are risks that we don’t know.  Of interest is the fact that there are risks that we don’t know that we don’t know.  Predicting your risk considering the latter example, demonstrates the perplexity of life.  As a supremely confident dentist, it is likely you will say to yourself  “IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN TO ME” when discussing your risk of disability in the future.  Be honest with yourself and don’t fall into the fourth category. There are risks we do not like to know. 

One day you may wake up and find that there won’t be enough time to do all the things you wanted to do.  It is the tragedy of the world that no one knows what he doesn’t know; and the less one knows, the more you are sure you know everything.  Overconfidence can be deadly for a dentist, and use this knowledge to be proactive and prepared.

For those of you that are familiar with the Johari Window analysis technique, the previously quoted thought process is nothing new.  What all this boils down to in retrospect is a means to logically address the real risks that all dentists face everyday. Whether we are talking about mental illness, back or neck problems, addiction, severe car accidents, cancer, or other disease;  all have the same effects on a practicing dentist. Whether you are out of work for 6 weeks, 6 months,or 6 years; the result can lead to the same catastrophic conclusion. Take a look at this TED talk for a different viewpoint on confidence and overconfidence. It really gives you a good perspective on the known problem.

If you are ready to be realistic and take steps to prepare for the unexpected, you likely will survive.  Be honest and understand that you life is on the line here.  Some do not survive because it is not survivable.  Some do not survive even if the event is survivable because they were not prepared or adaptable.   See our posting on the ten steps to survive disability for guidance. TEN STEPS TO SURVIVE DISABILITY   For those of you that are healthy and doing fine see our posting on establishing a practice continuity plan. Activate your Emergency Practice Continuity Plan   These are just a sample of the valuable information available for your use.  We are all smart, take steps to avoid the known risks of overconfidence.





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