A summer note: Challenges, Solutions, and Empathy
This is a positive guest post by Bjorn Ludwig on some of the challenges faced by our profession. I saw this on his excellent Facebook group, and he has agreed to let me publish it on this blog. I highly recommend joining his educational group.
Björn Ludwig is an orthodontics specialist who runs his private office in a small village in Germany. While his main focus is on clinical work, he has a weakness for technology, which often piques his interest. He consistently pursues his dream of improving as a researcher and writer by actively participating in diverse research projects and taking on editorial roles for journals. Besides his passion for orthodontics, he also finds joy in cycling as a way to unwind. It is great to see this short positive contribution.
When the pandemic hit in full force, disrupting the lives of most people, society, and our practices, we all shared the same wish and hope: that everything would return to normal once this worldwide catastrophe was over.
Almost two years have passed since we have been relatively freed from Covid. However, when I look at my daily professional life and listen to my colleagues, things haven’t returned to normal overnight. We are far from where we once were (which probably no one expected), and we face new challenges daily. These challenges come at us with a frequency, intensity, and unpredictability that push us to our limits.
I want to address four challenges that require individual and, hopefully, collective solutions.
All orthodontic and practice-related materials have become significantly more expensive and harder to obtain. Additionally, the European Medical Device Regulation has resulted in some of our favorite products being taken off the market.
Maintaining and motivating our practice team almost requires psychological and coaching education. It is a tremendous effort to have a well-functioning team, expand it, train its members, bring laughter, and motivate them to be productive.
Treatment options seem to be exploding, even though human biology remains unchanged. Particularly for young colleagues, the overwhelming abundance of 3D printers, aligners, mini-implants, and the often contradictory and not always evidence-based information on social media, journals, courses, or conferences can be confusing.
Collaborating with our patients and referring dentists has not become any easier. Of course, as orthodontists, we are fortunate that most patients are great. However, a proportion pressures us with time constraints, express dissatisfaction with costs, may leave negative online reviews, and may not have received realistic and fair advice from their general dentist.
Are we in the same boat?
What reassures me is that we all share almost the same daily concerns. So, we are all in the same boat.
And here lies a small part of the solution: understanding each other, listening, being honest, fair, supporting each other as colleagues, and above all, empathy! A challenge is easier to overcome when this is present, conflicts can be better resolved when kindness is shown, and dealing with an upset patient becomes easier. When all else fails, we should also treat ourselves with more compassion – we are not solely responsible for everything.
After all, we have a wonderful profession and many great colleagues, patients, and industry partners.
Emeritus Professor of Orthodontics, University of Manchester, UK.