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In a new book titled Career Burnout, psychologists Ayala Pines and Elliot Aronson describe the work they are doing with professional groups suffering from high rates of burnout. One of these groups is dentists. Burnout among dentists? That caught my eye!

According to Pines and Aronson, while dentistry may seem like a relatively easy profession-respected, lucrative, autonomous-the experience of pouring in maximal effort for minimal appreciation, week after week, causes serious erosion of spirit.

Most patients enter the dental office in a high state of anxiety. They do not want to be there, a message they clearly communicate to the dentist. It never enters their minds that the dentist might need appreciation, respect, and approval. Since very few dentists collaborate with their peers, neither patients nor peers are in a good position to express meaningful appreciation; there is no one nearby who has the expertise to say, "Wow, what a wonderful job you did capping that molar!"

Pines and Aronson ...

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From Issue:Fall 1988: Spiritual Vitality
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