Richard T Lishman: “Protection against stress related sickness”
There’s no denying that dentistry is a stressful profession. As more demands are placed on dental professionals every year, and patient lists continue to grow, it’s little surprise that stress related illnesses are now a major concern.
What’s particularly worrying is that high levels of stress can quickly impact people’s health, and this can jeopardise the practice should you need extended time off. But what can you do to protect yourself and your business should stress get too much?
Everyone is affected
Dentistry is a stressful career choice, even dental students, before they enter the profession full time, are more prone to abnormal levels of stress, anxiety and depression .
And things don’t improve. A survey found that more than half of all dentists say that stress is affecting both their practice as a business and their ability to cope .
But why is this? There are many reasons; patient expectations are constantly changing as dentistry evolves, and there is always the stress of trying to ensure that your practice remains a profitable business in a highly competitive market. However, perhaps one of the most pressing concerns for many dental professionals is the fear of litigation.
Claims on the rise
This fear is not unfounded. Claims against dentists have risen at an alarming rate in the last two decades. An article published in 2008 suggested that claims had quadrupled since 2000 , while a very recent NHS report shows that litigation against clinical professionals is still ongoing at a steady rate .
In fact, it is now thought that 9 out of 10 dentists fear being sued by their patients  – this is likely to be causing problems in how they perform their duties and, more pressingly, their health.
Health concerns caused by stress
It’s become more and more clear in recent years that stress is the ogre behind a number of significant health conditions. Not only do prolonged feelings of stress put people at higher risk of heart conditions, stroke and other potentially fatal systemic conditions , but stress and depression are also implicitly linked .
It’s therefore unsurprising that dentists have double the average suicide rate, as well as higher reported dependencies on substances such as drugs and alcohol. In fact, stress related cardiovascular disease is cited as the number one killer of people in the dental profession, and psycho-neurotic diseases are a common occurrence, at almost two and a half times the normal rate .
Protecting your interests
It’s important to relieve stress as much as possible with whatever technique you find works for you. It’s also a good idea to ensure that you have a back-up plan for your business, especially if legal action should arise or stress make you ill.
In these cases, it’s not only a good idea to search for dento-specific legal representation but you should also consider seeking out Critical Illness Insurance. It may seem morbid to think about, but protecting your income and your business with Critical Illness Insurance could be of huge benefit, especially if you undergo prolonged feelings of stress which may lead to negative health complications.
What is Critical Illness Insurance?
Simply put, Critical Illness Insurance is a policy that covers an individual against serious illnesses, diseases and medical conditions for either a set period or life. If a person should contract one of the illnesses covered by the policy, they can claim a lump sum.
This lump sum can replace the lack of earnings that would incur from a period away from work, and could also be instrumental in helping a business stay afloat if you are unable to work and need to redirect your finances towards receiving the best possible treatment.
There are multiple types of Critical Illness Insurance available, and every policy will have different illnesses covered, as well as different conditions attached. It’s not uncommon for Critical Illness Insurance to form part of a Life Insurance policy too, so it’s worth checking this if you already have the latter in place.
It’s also necessary to consider what lump sum of money you think you would need in the worst-case scenario. Would you choose to pay off your mortgage? Or would you rather fund your living costs? You need to have such things in mind before you start navigating the labyrinth of available policies.
Richard is the co-founder and Managing Director of the 4dentists Group and a regular contributor with Dental Review. The team at money4dentists has years of experience helping dental professionals with financial advice.
He says: “Choosing the right policy for you can be a difficult process. However, with the help of expert independent financial advisers, this process becomes much more straightforward. The award-winning team at money4dentists has years of experience in guiding dentists regarding insurance, and can help you find the policy that covers all your needs.”
1] Basudan, S., Binanzan, S., Alhassan, A. Depression, Anxiety and Stress in Dental Students. Int J Med Educ. 2017; 8: 179–186.
2] Nature.com. More Than Half of Dentists Say Stress is Affecting Their Practice. Link: https://www.nature.com/articles/sj.bdj.2019.18 [Last accessed August 19].
3] The Independent. Number of Claims Against Dentists Hass Quadrupled…Link: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/number-of-claims-against-dentists-has-quadrupled-774283.html [Last accessed August 19].
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5] Dentistry.co.uk Nine out of Ten Dentists Fear Being Sued by Their Patients. Link: https://www.dentistry.co.uk/2018/10/17/nine-10-dentists-fear-sued-patients/ [Last accessed August 19].
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8] Oral Health. Stress in Dentistry – It Could Kill You! Link: https://www.oralhealthgroup.com/features/stress-in-dentistry-it-could-kill-you/ [Last accessed August 19].