Mental health in dentistry – is perfectionism still possible?


Robert Chaffe particulars the experiences he went by final 12 months that left him preventing a GDC health to practise case.

As an advocate of psychological well being in our occupation, and in males, I wished to share a narrative with you of what occurred to me in direction of the top of final 12 months.

Solely my household and colleagues know what went on. But it surely exhibits a large drawback now we have in our occupation in fashionable instances.

I really feel it’s our responsibility to talk out to assist others the place doable.

Being a complete perfectionist myself is why I ended up getting an eating disorder in my teenage years. However this trait additionally helped me to recover from it.

I put my coronary heart and soul into every thing I do; whether or not that’s taking part in with my youngsters, making an attempt to be husband and father, being dentist to all my sufferers, and striving to be nearly as good as I will be.

It led my down one other rabbit gap in direction of the top of final 12 months.

Dentistry’s high tales

Driving the wave

I used to be a finalist for six Aesthetic Dentistry Awards in 2021. And I felt all my arduous work, programs and energy lastly paid off.

I used to be elated, and so blissful to be recognised by my friends in so many classes.

It was slightly intestine wrenching to have your identify learn out six instances and never win something. It was a sense like ‘All the time the bridesmaid and by no means the bride’. However after some time I simply felt so blissful to have been there.

Following that my mom obtained fairly sick. And at last the sucker punch, what all of us dread as dentists.

It was a November Monday morning, and an e-mail popped in my inbox from the GDC marked as ‘pressing’.

It was the dreaded GDC criticism. I’ve at all times strived so arduous all through my profession to deal with all my sufferers as members of the family. I put my soul into my job, regardless whether or not it’s a test up or an enormous remedy plan. Each affected person is similar to me.

My thoughts was going at a million miles per hour. I wished to pack up and go dwelling. I used to be pondering: ‘Who would assume I used to be so dangerous at my job I’m topic to health to practise criticism?!’

The dreaded criticism

After opening the e-mail I found it was from a affected person who was sad with a test up I gave them.

I do such large instances now, I used to be anticipating an implant case, or a smile design. Nut no, this was a test up.

The best way the GDC works is any affected person can go to its on-line platform and tick bins to pick a criticism.

This affected person’s motives have been purely monetary. She was sad with the service I gave on the test up. She wished her a reimbursement.

The GDC doesn’t cope with finance disputes. On its tick boxing type there is no such thing as a point out of: ‘Have you ever contacted the apply in query to request a refund?’ As a substitute you simply choose your challenge from a drop down menu, slightly like reserving a vacation.

Then it goes to the GDC panel, which opens an investigation.

‘I felt just like the worst dentist on the earth’

In the end, this all got here down to at least one occasion of the affected person failing to answer to an e-mail and the actual fact she didn’t just like the service she obtained. It left me with a three-month investigation by the GDC.

Dental Safety at all times says on its programs that sufferers who don’t like you’ll be those who will take this plan of action. And that miscommunication is the primary cause for complaints within the UK.

In the course of the three-month wait, I felt just like the worst dentist on the earth.

My ardour had gone, my love for the job went and I simply felt every test up was one other one to achieve the GDC.

With a historical past of psychological well being points, I’m not positive if this led to it impacting me extra.

I grew to become withdrawn, from my colleagues, buddies, household and on social media. I misplaced my confidence, though my colleagues advised me to not.

My boss known as to say I mustn’t let this get to me. But it surely actually did.

It doesn’t matter what anybody mentioned, it’s a part of my persona as a perfectionist. This affected person felt I used to be so dangerous this was the right plan of action.

I don’t assume sufferers know what a health to practise criticism does to a dentist; the way it impacts them, their household, their well being.

All this affected person wanted to do was ask for her a reimbursement, which I might have given her.

All prices dropped

After months of stress I obtained an e-mail in March saying all prices have been dropped, in addition to affirmation that I acted impeccably.

I felt vindicated, that each one my arduous work, staying late, getting my notes as excellent as I can, pretending every affected person was a secret shopper from the GCC stood me in good stead. That every one the educational, programs, ardour and professionalism I attempt to show labored in my favour in the long run, regardless of the stress.

The rationale I wished to lift this, is that complaints are on the rise.

Our job is anxious, so make sure you do every thing you’ll be able to to guard your self. Perceive the legislation, get your notes accomplished absolutely, work arduous, hold the fervour and drive to be the most effective you’ll be able to. That is what retains you going.

Health to practise

I wish to elevate consciousness to the issues within the health to practise complaints process on the GDC.

The months of stress I went although may very well be averted by a easy paragraph when the affected person was making the criticism to know why the affected person had contacted the regulator within the first place. This manner the GDC can act within the affected person’s greatest pursuits, similar to the GDC expects of us as dental professionals.

This was a easy case of giving her the test up a reimbursement. Not a health to practise case.

I do know now I’m extra that match to practise, because the overwhelming majority of us are.

However we must be conscious our requirements must be excessive and match with the GDC beliefs of what appearing in a sufferers greatest curiosity are.

The system is way from excellent. However as long as you observe greatest practise, that is proof we are able to overcome it.

Sticking collectively and striving for perfection is the way in which to succeed. Collectively as a occupation we’ll prevail.

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