by Lory Laughter, RDH, BS
I hear stories about computer crashes, viruses, Trojan horses, and other woes and consider myself lucky. Other than the occasional slow start–up, freezing, or dropped Internet signal, my computers have been very good to me. A sort of protective bubble surrounds my computing life and keeps my e–mail addiction fed — until now. In the last month, two computers in my house crashed and my world turned upside down.
My laptop is my connection to everyone and everything when I travel, so its demise was a concern. Luckily, the beginning of the year is not my big travel time. I handed a second computer down to a son, and although it is no longer “mine,” it does contain most of my important business information, none of it backed up, of course. The panic that set in when all the data seemed to be lost during a crucial time was overwhelming. It was also a badly needed lesson.
Every now and then our careers experience a similar freeze or crash, and quick decisions must be made. It's best not to make these choices while in panic mode, but often it's the only option. The answer may be as simple as rebooting, or in more advanced cases of data distribution, a reformat is in order.
Rebooting becomes necessary when going to work is a chore and you find yourself working in automatic pilot mode. I've actually caught my head snapping forward from dozing off during polishing. If the task is so rote that no thought is necessary, one is not practicing health care delivery but rather doing a repetitive chore. When putting on your scrubs or lab coat makes you dread the next few hours, you know your career is frozen, and banging on the keyboard (or your head against the wall) isn't going to fix it.
Rebooting can be as simple as moving things around in your treatment room, taking a continuing education course, researching a new product and incorporating it into practice, or taking a vacation. I've been promising myself a nondental vacation for over a year now to recharge my enthusiasm for dental hygiene, and 2009 will be the year it happens. Renewed appreciation for your profession comes from the smallest changes in routine.
When showing up to work is a melancholy act, rebooting will not address the situation. When boredom is replaced by dread or even something resembling depression, it's time to take more serious action. Sometimes the first clues come from people around you, especially family. I knew it was time to make a big change in 2000 when my children started exiting the house when I came home from work. Reformatting is a way to erase the problem, causing elements to return to a more manageable place. This is often accomplished by changing work environments, but can also be achieved in other ways.
Most of us reformat from time to time without even realizing it. Adding treatment options to your schedule, such as white spot remineralization, subgingival irrigation, desensitization, and tooth whitening, can bring a new outlook. Focusing on MI dentistry or even dental spa treatments can encourage both you and your patients. Researching products and technologies and educating co–workers and clients on their proper use and benefits can be as rewarding as finding new employment. Taking the time to try different instruments, chairs, loupes, lights, or even scrubs can have a reformatting effect.
When you start to experience the all–too–common burn–out sensation, consider your options before the panic or frustration fully sets in. Perhaps a reboot or reformat is in order. And if all else fails, find a new computer.