It’s Not You, It’s Me

At first glance, reading the history of how tumultuous my relationship was with dentistry, it might appear that I am placing all of the blame on bad jobs, mean bosses, or difficult patients.  But those are just details.

The fact is that I am responsible for how this all ended up.

I had a choice.  I could have chosen to start my own business and not be subjected to the whims of an unreasonable employer or problems I could never fix.  I could have chosen to react differently to miserable patients. (I’m not calling patients miserable, but I’m referring specifically to the miserable type.)  While I made a lot of mistakes along the way and admittedly sometimes did little to improve things for myself, I did choose to nurture my clinical, caretaker, and communication skills in attempts to achieve positive changes in this relationship.  But in the end, the result was always the same.  Like the woman who repeatedly dates the same kind of men, I repeatedly chose less than desirable work situations for myself.  Each time I thought I was doing the right thing, and each time I thought things might be different.

These were my choices, my responsibilities.  I am not a victim.

I look back and think that in the depths of my soul I wanted this relationship to fail all along… because… dentistry, it’s not you, it’s me.

I hope we can still be friends.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, I can get on to better things.  Up next: how we love to hate our bosses.



31 thoughts on “It’s Not You, It’s Me

  1. I feel exactly the same as a dental hygienist. I hate this f* field!!! I love the patients, don’t get me wrong. But this s* is dead END and I’m tired of running my a** off for just a wage, no benefits, no expansion, etc.

    I’ve decided to bite the bullet and (gulp) go back, retake my prereq’s (bc it’s all about the money to the higher institutions) and shoot to become a Physician’s Assistant. Yes, I’ll have a physician above me, yes, their are politics associated with it too. I’m 32 years old. I have a ton of debt just from hygiene (which I did to myself bc I didn’t want to be broke during those yrs), but I have no kids, no husband… So why not.

    I’ve been my own boss before. Loved it. But having a business is worrisome because you never know what you’re going to make, and being in Michigan mine did not work out.

    So i need something that pays great, gives me benefits, job security, and the option to change specialties anytime I want. I was engaged to a cardiologist. I know the hospitals, the jargon, all from hearing it from him and my friends … I think it’s a smart move. I’m scared to death. I’m worried I’m not as smart as I was when I was 20, as energetic, I groan when I think of the studying and the stress of hoping I passed – and well.

    But f* it. What else do I have to lose.

    Kudos to you Lola bees for having the balls to tell the world the good, the bad, and the ugly – of dentistry. I’ve had it with this field!

    1. It’s very true that there is a trade off for being your own boss. More responsibility, more stress, more risk, more variables. One of the benefits of my position was I did have a lot of freedom as a dentist even though I wasn’t the business owner. I never owned practice because I never had any desire to be so attached to dentistry. I always wanted to be sure I wasn’t too committed.

      Good for you for also making a big scary change to do something you’d rather do. You are free, so why not!?! My only thought about medicine is that I’ve always pictured it to be pretty similar to dentistry– but I guess maybe you can get the benefits, variety, etc… I hope it’s a better field for you. Good luck, Danielle! 😀

  2. Danielle,
    You might really want to take a deep breath, and rethink your situation. If you are not happy, so be it, a career change may be the only way out…. But perhaps its your location, or practice situation?
    There is a severe shortage of good dental hygienists. I know (generally speaking) most on the east coast/ mid atlantic are making 40-45 an hour, and can usually set their own hours and days. Essentially, many I know are working as much, or as little as they want. Also, being in such high demand, hours are flexible and it is (could be?) the perfect career for an individual who wants to make some ‘ good coin’, but also wants to pursue other interests.. take kids to school, go to art class.. whatever…
    Also, I strongly suspect that within 5 years you should have a lot of states that you can open your own practice, etc. The ‘ultimate’ in being your own boss {but be careful what you wish for (: ! }
    heck, our hygienists have their own assistants.
    …not trying to be a ‘know it all’ spewing worthless advise, but you sound very frustrated, perhaps a change a venue might change your perspective. As an aside (and to my grass is greener mantra), by buddies wife is a PA, and she is always saying she wants to be/ wishes she was a hygienist.
    … Just my 2 cents. (actually .8 cents after i pay my hygienist and taxes)!

  3. Oh, and to LLB,
    I AM a victim ! I am constantly verbally, and sometimes, physically abused by my patients, my staff, my office manager,.. even our ‘custodial engineer’ treats me like dirt.
    but I CHOOSE to mire in my own misery.. in fact, I kind of enjoy it.
    What other profession could you bend over backwards for everyone only to be ‘soiled’ upon, work long hours, squeak out a little money.. and the “no offense doc… but I HATE dentists!”… and the; ‘oh.. your a dentist.. not a real doctor’… Well, they just never get old!
    Pour me a highboy, and get out the 15 blade… ‘its drilln’ time!”

  4. I did take the plunge and bought my own dental practice from a retiring dentist. I thought I would enjoy dentistry more but I really don’t. In fact, I may even enjoy it less now because I am tied down to this practice and while I could sell it and move on, it is just not that easy to do at this point in my career. I also worked for another dentist for several years before getting my own practice and was not happy there either but I honestsly thought it was because I was not being challenged enough and that having my own practice would change that. In the end I am starting to realize that I am just unhappy with practicing dentistry and all the misery that goes along with it.

    1. Sounds like it is the career, and you can’t blame it on a series of bad jobs. At least you gave it your all. I’m sure something will eventually come your way when the time is right. It sounds like you want it badly enough. Good luck!

    1. Ha! So am I! I’ve started working on that post, and it seems pretty specific to my experiences. I guess since I’ve been the boss too, I’ll probably miss a lot. Maybe we’ll have some good comments to spread the love.

  5. Sounds like it is time for a leave of absence to revitalize the mind and soul. Funny how all jobs sound the same after a while. As for the miserable patients, they can’t be avoided, you always have them no matter what job/career.
    Nothing that a nice trip overseas won’t cure. You’ll feel better and have some new experiences to have in your head while you deal with the ongoing drudgery of work.
    Any way these feelings ebb and flow like waves besides if you leave what stories will have to tell in your blog. There are always positives.

    1. I already have taken a leave of absence– a permanent one! 🙂 I left and went into a totally different career. I still deal with patients, but I own a weight loss practice, so people are much more pleasant. Even the “miserable” ones are not really so rough. They want to be there, and if they don’t, they leave– not much misery to deal with. We’re making some really positive changes with people’s lives (which also occurs in dentistry, btw) and it’s quite fun. I know you get that, since getting fit has been your personal journey.

      Lots of escapes via trips and travel, and I still realized it wasn’t the career for me. I tried that, among many things 😉

        1. I read this comment a while back and forgot to respond! Oops! I’ve heard of the book, but I don’t know much about it. Have you read the Paleo Diet created by Loren Cordain? I’m guessing they make similar arguments. I think many people are reactive to gluten/wheat– maybe more than not. I know I avoid those things because of sensitivities, and overall, I do much better.

        2. Yes, I have the book by Cordian as well couple of other paleo cookbooks. I even found an article from a cattle farmer in Texas advocating the Natural Diet/Cave man/Paleo diet providing an argument against all the modified grains that his animals used to eat and how they were unhealthy until he changed the cattle’s diet. I send it to you. I have it in my favourites list on my computer at work.

  6. Oh my dear! There you go again writing what I’m thinking “Each time I thought I was doing the right thing, and each time I thought things might be different.” … Now I’m thinking about 1. should I do the same thing I’ve been doing now but at a different organisation, or 2. Break free from all these and try something new? Ok, I’m not asking for an answer here, it’s really just me thinking over and over again.

    1. Sometimes I think I would have stayed in the field had I found a great job along the way. Amazing how a bad job or 2 can make you hate something. Good luck with your decision!

  7. I know your pain!!! I’ve been a dentist for almost 30 years and hated it. I had a family so I had to suck it up. I am now nearing a chance to get out and I can’t wait. My lifestyle will suffer, but
    I’ll enjoy less so much more. Thanks for your candor!!

    1. Congrats to you, Dwight. I bet you’ll see that the lifestyle change will be worth it. It’s been crazy to find out about how many more dentists are in your situation than we know. I guess its no surprise. Woohoo, you made it! What ever will you do with all your new free time??

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