Dr. Tyler Fix graduated dental school in 2017 and practices at PureCare Dental in Bend, Oregon. Dr. Fix has a career he loves but learned the hard way that the path to professional fulfillment can come with unexpected twists and turns.
Health care providers have a knack for neglecting their own health. We focus on our patients, but we need care, too. Over the last four years, I learned what worked (and what didn’t) to mentally, physically and socially keep myself well. These are my tips as a senior to help you get through school and stay well.
My patient was escorted to our urgent care clinic wearing an ankle monitor. Her chief complaint was that she felt pain around every tooth. When I took a closer look, the source of her pain became apparent. She had a mouth full of non-functional root tips. Almost every root tip showed signs of infection. My patient was from a local drug rehabilitation center, and she was 10 months sober from a heroin addiction. As a result, she wasn’t allowed any prescription narcotics or nitrous oxide, as instructed by her program due to fear of relapse.
If you keep up with Mouthing Off, then you’ve read several posts about stress relief and mental health. And if you are like me, you read them, but you don’t change any habits because of the notion that “there’s not enough time” to do so. Despite their stress-relieving benefits, I was continually telling myself that I didn’t have the time to do yoga or meditate. Over the past couple months, though, I noticed that with graduation looming, I was not sleeping well. I believed my lack of sleep was due to increased stress, so, while awake in the middle of the night, I searched for ways to relieve stress.
Many people have a tendency to think about healthy behaviors in black-and-white extremes: chocolate is bad, carrots are good; missing a few daily walks means you’ve fallen off the wagon; a scale that won’t budge means your health is spiraling out of control. This distorted thinking pattern may harm your efforts to improve your health because small setbacks may cause you to feel defeated, down and ready to give up. Here are some tips for keeping a positive long-view perspective.
When a computer becomes overrun with more information than its processor can handle, it crashes. The human brain responds much the same. Take me, for example. I recently wrapped up an ordinary day in the life of a third-year dental student. I had lectures in the morning and treated patients in the afternoon. On the ride home, something felt off. Everything I needed to get done was passing through my mind. I needed to study, finish lab work and prepare a treatment plan for tomorrow’s patient. Aside from school responsibilities, my wife needed me to get groceries. I got home, dropped my bag and knelt on the floor. All at once, those thoughts flooded my brain and I could not move. I just sat there, emotional and frozen.
We all want to feel accepted, included and a part of something bigger. For most of us, becoming a dentist was once just a dream. Now we have the opportunity to learn, grow and develop skills to achieve our dream. Dentistry is a social, collaborative and interactive profession that requires empathy, compassion and respect. We work hard so that, one day, we can take care of our patients. However, the environment of dental school can exacerbate existing insecurities. As a consequence, we sometimes forget how to take care of ourselves and our peers.