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ADA, Alliance of ADA promoting ways to banish burnout

May 20, 2019

By David Burger

The ADA and the Alliance of the ADA are committed to helping dentists combat stress, establish a beneficial work-life balance and, above all, prevent burnout.

The Association and the Alliance offer a number of resources and information on surviving and thriving during periods of high stress, including:

  • The ADA Practice Institute will host an Aug. 16 conference specifically focused on battling burnout.
  • The fourth episode of the ADA podcast Beyond the Mouth is devoted to stress management, titled “It’s a Wellness Revolution.” The podcast is produced by the ADA Center for Professional Success, which also has other resources devoted to burnout.
  • Susan Hadnot
    Advocacy: Susan Hadnot, president of the Alliance of the ADA, speaks during Lobby Day in April on Capitol Hill.
  • Susan Hadnot, president of the Alliance, said she will devote much of her remaining time in her one-year term, up in September, to helping dentists and their family members cope with and manage challenges to their well-being in their lives and careers, evidenced by one of the sessions delivered at its recent annual conference.

The Alliance is a volunteer organization that is generally, but not limited to, spouses of ADA member dentists. It has a partnership with the ADA in advancing the oral health of the public.

In mid-April, the Alliance met in Las Vegas for its annual Alliance of the ADA Conference, and one of the primary events was a session called How to Find Balance, Beat Burnout, and Be Happy, led by Marcia Mastracci Ditmyer, Ph.D., associate dean of academic affairs, assessment and instruction at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, School of Dental Medicine.

“People really want to know how to combat stress and burnout, and the question is, ‘Can you balance your life?’” said Dr. Ditmyer.

“Everybody should have a self-care mindset. You can have a well-managed life. What do you need to do for yourself every day? Look at yourself, so you can better look at others, your patients.”

Ms. Hadnot said that the session was brought to the conference based on feedback and input from members who experience and witness stress in themselves and their spouses. “Who is better to carry the message of improving well-being than the Alliance?” she asked rhetorically.

The Alliance has a liaison on the ADA’s Health and Well-Being Committee, which will lead the Health and Well-Being Conference on Aug. 16 at ADA Headquarters in Chicago. The title of the conference is You First: Management and Prevention of Burnout in Dentistry.

Focusing on continuing education on career burnout and stress management, the conference will feature a keynote speech by Austin Eubanks, an injured survivor of the Columbine shooting who has become an expert and motivational speaker on topics such as behavioral health, addiction and trauma.

To register for the conference, visit ADA.org/WellBeingConference.

The podcast is another resource for dentists concerned about burnout. Dr. Betsy Shapiro, director of the ADA Center for Professional Success, chats with a diverse group of people who offer their perspectives in the new podcast Beyond the Mouth, where the only topic off-limits is clinical dentistry. The third episode features a new dentist, Dr. Erinne Kennedy, discussing her methods of addressing stress both in school and in life, and in the fourth episode one can hear Dr. Emelia Sam, oral surgeon, faculty, author and speaker, talking about how she has made a mission of wellness for herself, her patients, her students and the community at large.

The podcast Beyond the Mouth is available at ADA.org/BeyondtheMouth and through most major podcast distribution channels.

The ADA Center for Professional Success also houses other resources to help dentists avoid burnout at ADA.org/Wellness.

The House of Delegates has additionally passed a policy on dentist well-being. In Policy Statement 264H-2017, the House adopted the following language: “To preserve the quality of their performance and advance the welfare of patients, dentists are encouraged to maintain their health and wellness, construed broadly as preventing or treating acute or chronic diseases, including mental illness, addictive disorders, disabilities and occupational stress. When health or wellness is compromised, so may be the safety and effectiveness of the dental care provided.”