Juggling motherhood and a full-time career in dentistry: How I make it work
U.S. News recently listed dentistry as the #2 job in the country. Undoubtedly, our profession offers great work-life balance, career growth and low unemployment. However, it’s not without its challenges, of course—especially if you’re a working mother.
According to a survey, more than 70 percent of the women polled agreed that being a mom in today’s world is much harder than it was 20, 30 years ago. Think about it. Today, we not only play caretaker, but we are often our family’s primary source of income. No pressure, right? Wrong! A lot of women still face the enormous burden of having to choose between either having a baby or climbing the career ladder.
For me, having to choose between being a dentist or mother was never an option. Dentistry is my passion, and I never thought about getting out or taking a break. At the same time, becoming a mother has also been one of my greatest achievements, and it’s a role that I don’t take lightly either.
The Working Mom: A Balancing Act
Some people might argue that it’s not possible to work full time and still effectively raise a child. I’ll be the first to admit that when I gave birth several years ago, transitioning between the roles of a career woman and mother was quite challenging. But I’m living proof that it’s certainly doable.
What I’ve discovered is that juggling the two has become easier over time. Early on, I found that embracing technology was the most helpful tool that allowed me to be more organized, more efficient and focused on the things that I was pursuing. Here are a few other things that have helped me to be not only a great mother but an effective dentist, too:
Control your schedule
Yes, I completely get that this is not always possible. Things happen. But if you own your practice or have a good relationship with your employer, some minor tweaks can make the day less stressful. As with any dental practice, some days are going to be super busy with back-to back appointments or unexpected emergencies. I personally try to start the day with the biggest procedures that require the most focus, and end the day with the easy ones. I also have my schedule on the cloud, so I can securely login and check my schedule a day before to plan things. That way I am not stuck in surgery at the last appointment of the day with the kid waiting in hopes of going to the park.
Focus on the bigger procedures
As much fun “bread and butter dentistry” is, it still requires lot of hard work and patient volume. Of course, your goal is to provide the services your patients need. I invested in a 3D conebeam scanner in my practice and started offering dental implants to my patients. Investing in CE courses also enables offering wider array of services under one roof which provides convenience for my patients.
Compress your work day
Many dental practices provide patient care Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. I have compressed my schedule to work Monday-Wednesday, for a longer time each day. This gives me an extra day at home to catch up with my little one.
Use a walkie-talkie at work
The layout of modern dental offices is often a hallway leading to various operatories. An already busy day could get even more tiring if you have to keep walking over to communicate with your staff. I found that implementing these two-way radios has been very helpful to make quick announcements like “running five minutes behind with a patient,” “I need to see you,” etc.
Get some time away from work and chores at home in order to rejuvenate and decompress. Remember. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else—be it your patients or your children. When I like to unwind, I go to the spa, get a massage or go shopping. Going on vacation is nice, too.
A Final Note
Great mothers are always able to multitask and improvise—even when working. Don’t get me wrong. I was never fully prepared by just how motherhood would impact me as a career woman. Sure, it’s challenging. However, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Watching my young daughter learn and grow every day has been so rewarding. Motherhood has taught me patience and made me more caring. In some ways, I think it’s even made me a better dentist.
Dr. Rohini Agarwal is New Dentist Now guest blogger and a member of the American Dental Association. She graduated from Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine in 2014 and has since been practicing in suburbs of Portland Oregon. Dr. Agarwal is passionate about oral health education among kids and loves to be involved in local community events.