Dentists are below average when it comes to happiness. At CareerExplorer, we conducted an ongoing survey with millions of people and asked them how satisfied they are with their careers. It turns out that dentists rate their professional happiness 3.0 out of 5 stars, placing them in the bottom 36% of careers. While patients sometimes fear going to the dentist, dentists themselves often gain great satisfaction from taking care of patients' dental needs.
In general, dentists have a somewhat higher than average job satisfaction. The variety in nature of conditions and treatments for patients, along with the importance of work, contribute to satisfaction. It's a little comforting to know that others realize that dentistry isn't all it's cracked up to be. Many recent graduates have come to the realization that this profession isn't for them halfway through their second year.
But some stick with it; they think that all the debt and the time invested in this race could be positive and they like it. A few years later, and guess what, dentistry still stinks for some. Their back and neck hurt, the “emotion” has turned into nauseating stress, and they shudder every time something goes wrong and garbage hits the fan. The discussion among dentists is a lot like the ones they have with friends who are close enough that they don't feel peer pressure to profess how wonderful it is to be a dentist.
If only dentistry defines you and you have nothing else, no other creative outlet could suffocate you. The great thing about dentistry is that you have the freedom to limit and make your own schedule, so having plenty of time free from personal stress is a nice plus. But how do dentists protect themselves from crazy patients? Many young dentists who have just left school seem disappointed and disheartened. Tavo, the reality is that you don't have to be Michelangelo to practice dentistry, you just need patience not to hit a canvas that keeps moving ruining your masterpiece or that you start crying even before you start painting.
I can see why dentistry is the most stressful profession and most likely to commit suicide due to ongoing stressors related to your own practice. Most people are afraid of the dentist and I understand that, because I was also afraid of the dentist before I became one. The retention rate of dentists is lower than in other medical fields, so there may be a shortage of dentists at this time. It's important for dentists to try to overcome their perfectionism as it can lead to burnout and dissatisfaction with their career choice.
In their discussion, the authors noted that most of the studies they analyzed had been conducted in high-income countries, limiting their understanding of the levels of job satisfaction among dentists in low- and middle-income countries. One thing I've learned from reading and commenting on this blog is that you need the right personality for dentistry or this career will leave you dry and make you feel miserable. I realize that dentists don't change people's lives, but restoring a smile that looks good and works well is rewarding.