How to Beat the Odds By Loving Your Job

In 2011, Business Insider published the following article, “The 19 jobs you are most likely to kill yourself.” In 2015, Mental Health Daily published, “Top 11 professions with the highest suicide rate.” In both articles (and actually all articles on the subject), my fellow dentists grab the not so enviable #3 spot!

This was quite shocking to me as a Dentist – it got me thinking, first, if I had known a lot of dentists that committed suicide – but most importantly (smile and wink), “Am I Next?”

I dismissed the notion for a very simple reason: I LOVE WHAT I DO! I’ve been a Dentist for over twenty-five years and I honestly can not recall even one day where I remotely felt I didn’t want to go to work, or that I didn’t like my job. The grim statistics about my profession got me thinking: I have been around “teeth” for almost my entire adult life – I started as a dental technician and then became a dentist, “what could be better… or have I missed something, perhaps a better way to make a living?”

I can say, without hesitation, that I get up each morning and feel the same excitement I have felt on the first day I opened my practice. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my ups and downs as a human being and as a dentist, but as we say, “such is life,” full of surprises good or bad. As a matter of fact, it goes way beyond just being ‘excited’ about what I do — I spend each day making a difference in the lives of my patients; as a dentist, a friend, a therapist, a comedian or just someone you look forward to seeing again.
There are two forms of happiness; the one you feel internally and the other which is bestowed upon you by others. The two are connected in my world – I am proud of my 97% patient return rate (the other 3% left New York) and for hearing consistently why my patients return:

  • You’re the only dentist I know that doesn’t practice “rollerblade dentistry” — I don’t have to wait in the chair while you manage three patients at the same time.

  • I always get your full, undivided attention.

  • I never feel pain. I stopped being afraid of going to the dentist, because of you.

  • I am comfortable, and relaxed because of your patience and willingness to explain everything to me.

  • You don’t rush to do the ‘big’ money-making procedures.

  • I love your step-by-step approach and trust your judgment.

I suppose I defined my happiness early on, and perhaps I was on to something – my aspirations were to be exactly the dentist that I am today by giving my full attention to every patient, one at a time. I never dreamed of having a large practice, making a lot of money and retiring early – that is probably one vision that generates a considerable amount of stress and unhappiness for many dentists.

So for my loyal and returning patients, I say a big “thank you for making me the happiest dentist in New York City,” and for those who want to experience my ‘old fashioned’ approach to working with patients I say, “welcome to my world of painless and comfortable dentistry.”

I’m thinking of breaking the Guinness World Record for the oldest practicing dentist; pssst, the record is mine to break! The oldest practicing doctor ever was 103. I know two things for sure – I am planning to work as long as I can and there is a very high likelihood that all of my natural teeth will be replaced by then.