I’m not disabled yet, What can I do now?

We often encounter dentists who are still working and are just seeking information about disability issues. Many are totally healthy and are being proactive; most have some medical or personal issues that they prefer to keep private. Both groups share concern about what they can do now, before they have to make decisions in a crisis.

Cancer doesn’t care. Neither does that drunk driver that hits you on the way to work tomorrow. Go ahead, think “it won’t happen to me”. The odds are greater than you realize. Fortunately you are already thinking ahead by just visiting this website. One in four of us will encounter a disabling event during our dental careers. It may be short or long term. 90% of disabilities are medically related. 10% are accident related. As a young dentist, you are 10 times more likely to encounter a disability than die young. The effects on your dental practice will be significant. What will you do about your family, staff, practice, patients, and office?

Why don’t we hear about this happening? Dentists are very reluctant to discuss the fact that they are disabled in any capacity. Our patients require the utmost confidence in our abilities. Word travels fast in healthcare. The unwarranted perception that one cannot function at 100% can have serious effects on our practices. Will you really know if you will be back to work in 6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months, or 6 years?…………… after an injury or illness strikes. An average of 1-2 dentists become permanently disabled every day in the United States alone. We know, we speak to them on heart-breaking phone calls every week.

When faced with a disabling event, emotion and anxiety often dictate the poor decisions subsequently made. Being prepared for such an event is very important. As dentists, we are faced with challenges on a daily basis. In order to overcome these obstacles; we plan, practice, prepare and research. Why should we treat the possibility of a disabling event any different? A solid, understandable plan is needed.

We have extensively researched the following recommended steps you can take now for you and your family to survive. Each step has a corresponding website/blog article and refer to them for the details on each topic at http://www.disableddentists.org . While you are still healthy, implement the following. Understand your family will be in shock and often unable to make rational decisions!!!!!!

  1. Develop a Practice Continuity Plan-multiple copies, one to your attorney.
  2. Make sure your significant other knows how your practice runs….IN DETAIL.
  3. Maintain a list of up-to-date passcodes, keys, passwords, etc…see #1
  4. Have a mutual-aid agreement to cover your practice while you are gone.
  5. Determine the way your practice is to be run, sold, or managed if you are incapacitated..,see #1
  6. Make good financial decisions now (invest and save wisely).
  7. Get your affairs in order now (wills, trusts, life insurance).
  8. Have a solid DDR (Death, Disability,Retirement) clause if in a group practice.
  9. Purchase good business overhead insurance
  10. GET THE BEST DISABILITY INSURANCE (after tax dollars paid only)!!!

As stated previously, please refer to our website on detailed articles addressing all 10 of the above steps. The actions you need to take now are not complicated, but they will be lifesavers in the time of crisis.

There are a series of steps to take AFTER you encounter a disabling illness or injury. We have developed a logical list of actions to take to survive. We have made mistakes and can help others to avoid them. Please head back to our website for numerous posts/articles addressing those steps. In addition, we have spent many hours researching alternative careers and job opportunities should you choose to transition out of clinical dentistry.

We provide help for free, and our only reward is the success of ill and injured dentists throughout the country. Please don’t follow the herd and say, “This won’t happen to me.” Our profession is subject to stress in many forms. Clinical dentistry is demanding; and backs, necks, shoulders, wrists, and hands are vulnerable to injury. Add a little stress, and it’s like gasoline on a fire. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether it’s bad luck or just Karma……………. the results are the same. You decide on where to go from here.

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