Dos and don'ts for stress management: Identify its true causes

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Relieving stress begins with identifying its true causes

The major cause of stress in most practices is not "difficult" patients. It's outdated, undocumented, or improperly used practice management systems. When systems are not working properly, the results are inefficiency, miscommunication, and poor coordination among team members -- all of which contribute to stress.


Review, update, and document systems to alleviate stress. As practices go through both positive and negative changes, management protocols also must be changed to keep everything running smoothly, with minimal stress. Start with the scheduling system, which has a direct bearing on almost every aspect of practice operation. Then move on to other key systems. As they are updated and documented, train the staff to use them efficiently -- and day-to-day stress in the practice will decline. Even "difficult" patients will be easier to handle, thanks to improved systems.


Don't accept stressors as being unavoidable. When team members feel stress, they should take note of what (or who) is causing it, think about why it's causing stress, and bring it up in a staff meeting. This will begin the process of eliminating a cause of stress in the practice, rather than allowing it to continue.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the chairman and CEO of practice management consulting firm Levin Group.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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