Work Life Balance of an Oral Surgeon

Despite the many virtues of being a health care professional, It is no secret that we are faced with higher stress levels than the average professional. While attempting to balance our personal and professional lives, it seems that our professional responsibilities always seem to take precedence over every other aspect of our being. After all we hold our patients very lives in the balance and therefore must always be thinking quickly and using our very best judgement.

There have been many articles that have been written regarding the “burnout of the healthcare professional”. A quick query on google yielded me with 112 articles written over the last 30 years. Specifically only five of those articles addressed the “burnout of an Oral Surgeon”.

Oral surgeons have a fuzzy role with one foot in medicine and another firmly in dentistry. While managing in-office patient care along with frequent hospital calls and visits of ER emergencies,  a planned free weekend with family and friends can turn into a 5 hour hospital room operating case for the on call oral surgeon and no sleep. Most oral surgeons will not even think about whether or not they are in network for that patient, we take care of the situation, and deal with insurance and reimbursement on Monday morning. Often to discover that we do not participate with the insurance plan.

Not much has been written on the specific impact these stressors can have on the oral and maxillofacial surgeon.  There is a conflict between running a business, with the expenditures including payrolls, rents, equipment costs and professional licensure fees, and on the other hand, a human being who may or may not be able to pay.

For me I have learned to find balance in the little things in life. A weekend getaway to my favorite ski resort, giving back to my community, hanging out with my pet parrot Kiko, spending time with my family and friends, and my second “home away from home” – the Landmark Forum- where creating new possibilities for people, bring me the greatest sense of joy and peace.

I am out to transform health care so that we can give care to every human being, and costs are managed and reasonable. It starts with each and every one of us- looking to make a difference and striving to answer to my higher calling to heal. At the end of the day, we hope to achieve a balance where we were able to make the difference for a human being and maneuver through the complex financial aspects of insurance for patients.  The privilege of being there in someones worst hour is always worth the sacrifice.

While it is still quite the balancing act, the art of helping others was and is the reason that I decided to embark on this ever changing journey of an oral surgery, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.