Valuing your skills

The problem with spending too much time with someone is that you start to take them for granted. We’re all guilty of this from time to time. A spouse, a friend or a colleague; it can be easy to stop valuing them. What you may not realise is that you also do this to yourself. Because you spend all day, every day with you, you take your abilities for granted. You undervalue the amazing skills that you have learnt and honed to become the professional that you are.

As a dentist, you train and study for years. You build up such dexterity and depth of knowledge that extremely complex tasks become trivial. When these sophisticated treatments feel so simple that they are mundane, it’s easy to stop valuing yourself and those abilities.

The occlusal composite filling

Take a small, tooth coloured filling for example. The majority of dentists can do these in their sleep (although your indemnity provider will request that you don’t). You get so adept at doing them that you overlook all of the knowledge and skill required to repair a tooth in this way.

Firstly, you need an in-depth understanding of anatomy to numb the tooth. Unsurprisingly, your patients are delighted that you understand their faces enough to safely ensure that their treatment is comfortable and pain free.

Then you need the dexterity to prepare the cavity. You are able to remove old repairs and infected tooth material, leaving only sound, healthy tooth.

To place your repair, you then need a detailed understanding of the materials you are using to seal the cavity and restore the tooth, adding strength back to the weakened structure.

Finally, you need an understanding of occlusion to ensure that the new filling conforms to the patient’s bite so that they can eat and chew in comfort.

And you’re doing all of this while constantly managing the patient and keeping them comfortable throughout the treatment. You are using all of these skills seamlessly to restore the health of your patient’s mouth and yet this is one of the least complex treatments that we provide.

This is where the magic happens…

I could go on, describing every single treatment that we provide and the intricate, delicate skills that are required of all dentists. However, I won’t bore you any further. The point is this.

Never take yourself for granted. Never underestimate the professional skills that you have. There is so much value in the even the simplest things that you do.

When you understand your personal value, magical things start to happen. You stop bending over backwards for everyone, rushing, stressing and thinking of yourself last. You have the self esteem, the confidence to slow everything down.

By thinking of yourself a little more, you are actually able to provide a better standard of treatment to your patients. By valuing your skills highly enough that you stop rushing yourself, you have time to explain treatment options. You now have time to explain why the porcelain onlay might be better than the amalgam repair. Your patients can then make better decisions and consequently receive a higher standard of care. Everybody wins.

This is not a purely selfish exercise (although if it was, it would still be worth doing). You must understand your worth for your own sake but also for the sake of your patients. Stop taking yourself for granted and recognise the amazing skills that you have. See the value in you.

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