Avoiding Burnout

Dental All-Stars podcast explores dentistry burnout with Abigail Vickery, offering solutions through therapy-coaching fusion.


About Abigail Vickery

Abigail Vickery is a John Maxwell Certified Life Coach, certified DISC trainer and President of Align Life Coaching. She has an undergraduate degree in psychology, a master’s degree and clinical license in social work, and credentials in school counseling. She has worked within the field of mental health for nearly two decades. She now brings her clinical background to the field of professional performance coaching. Her areas of expertise are lifestyle design, professional and personal vision, healthy relationships, challenging parenting issues, and servant leadership coaching.

About Eric Vickery

Eric holds a degree in business administration and brings a strong business and systems approach to his consulting. His initiation into the field of dentistry was in the area of office management. He managed dental practices for over ten years and has been consulting over 250 offices nationwide since 2001.

About Alex Nottingham JD MBA

Alex is the CEO and Founder of All-Star Dental Academy®. He is a former Tony Robbins top coach and consultant, having worked with companies upwards of $100 million. His passion is to help others create personal wealth and make a positive impact on the people around them. Alex received his Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Florida International University.

Episode Transcript

Transcript performed by A.I. Please excuse the typos.


This is Dental All-Stars, where we bring you the best in dentistry on marketing, management, and training. Here’s your host, Alex Nottingham. Our topic is burnout, and our guest is Abigail Vickery. Abigail is a licensed clinical social worker and a credentialed school counselor. She is a certified John Maxwell coach and disc trainer. She is also trained in CliftonStrengths.


And Abigail has been in the field of mental health for over two decades. Please welcome Abigail. Hello. And you go by Abby. Yeah, exactly. So don’t call you Abigail. That’s when you’re in trouble with your parents. Got it. Uh, wonderful. So burnout, Abby, tell we did a, we did a prior podcast and I’ll link in the show notes about therapeutic coaching. Very, very powerful.


Tell us about burnout. Burnout is one of my favorite things to talk about, Alex. It really is, and it is a pervasive issue across all professions. I dug into some statistics regarding how it affects dentistry. Dentistry has not been hidden from burnout, let’s say that.


So I have a really good one actually that I wanted to read to you. So during the COVID pandemic timeframe, 18.8% of dentists and 14% of hygienists reported professional burnout and the rest fell into categories of ineffective, overextended or disengaged.


And I think that last part is actually the most powerful part because when you first read it, you think, okay, well, 18.8% and 14%, those aren’t huge numbers, but the rest of them fell into categories of feeling ineffective, overextended or disengaged. And that is really powerful. Those are the precursors of burnout. It’s like we’re heading in that direction. Absolutely. Often with mental health, it’s not those that are.


full blown anxiety or depression, like it’s these other states that you’re, you’re asking for trouble over time. You’re just keeping attention to that. It makes a lot of sense. What is, what is burnout, I guess, technical versus real life definition. So I love that you’re asking about the different definitions because, uh, there is a world health organization definition and


That’s what I would call the technical definition. And I’m not a fan of it. Nothing against the World Health Organization. But I’ll explain to you why. So according to the World Health Organization, burnout is a syndrome that is conceptualized as a result from chronic workplace stress, that being the key word there is workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.


and they kind of break it down into three dimensions. So feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job and reduced professional efficacy. So here’s why I’m not a fan. And this is burnout is something that I have done a deep dive into over the past year and have done a lot of different research about it. And


The reason I don’t love that definition is because I truly believe, and you might remember this from our therapeutic coaching conversation, that we are whole beings. There is no way that who I am at home is not who walks into the office that I work in. There’s no way. When you talk about burnout being a workplace issue, I don’t believe that it is. I think that there are things that contribute to our burnout.


across the board and the word in my profession would be domain. We have many different domains in our lives. And so who I am professionally is who I am personally. It’s who I am with my family and my friends. And those are not separate people. So I have two favorite definitions, what I call the working definitions.


of burnout that I can read to you and thereby two different authors of wonderful books on the subject. John Eldridge in his book, Resilient, says that burnout is the buildup of hundreds and thousands of little disappointments, each one barely noticeable on its own. Isn’t that amazing? Right. I feel that in my body when you say that. Exactly. You have, you absolutely, you have a physiological response to that.


This book, Paula Davis wrote Beating Burnout at Work, and it’s a wonderful solution-focused book, and she says that burnout is the hundreds of miniature bruises that we experience each day that determine the overall quality of our lives far more dramatically than the giant traumas that punctuate the decades. Wow. So before we unpack that, I…


forgot to mention someone really important with us here is Eric Vickery, president of coaching. Hey, how are you doing? He’s also frequently our cohost and, and I asked him to be here with his wife. I’m everybody or I mean, at least I am, I know a lot of people are very impressed with Eric, a wonderful speaker, humble leader, president of coaching. And it’s just a pleasure to see he’s got a.


an equal, a very talented woman. I know, I know, I don’t wanna put, deprecate you. I’m just saying the equal, power a couple together. All right, that’s fair. It’s just wonderful to see. So, here’s, guess you may. Can I really quick, real quick? I wanna tangible-ize this. I don’t think that’s a word, Abigail, but I wanna tangible-ize this. You guys ready? So, here’s what we hear, tangibly, from team members, from doctors telling me what team members are saying to them. Okay?


And this reflects, how do I see burnout? What is burnout, right? So there’s a definition, but here’s how it shows up. So Sunday night, you get a knot in your stomach. You got an employee who’s late or doesn’t show up on Mondays a lot, okay? Can’t sleep on Sunday nights because the stress is so, your mind is just working overtime about what’s gonna happen this week. If you get a vacation, it feels like a prison release program. That’s, you don’t wanna go back, you’re dreading it.


There’s an overreaction lately to team issues, to stressful situation. Maybe a patient you overreact with your team. You’ve never done that before. These are tangible things. And then not catching yourself spending your free time, whether it’s in the shower or your downtime, eating lunch, dreaming about your profession. There’s a loss of passion. So think about all those tangible things and then…


You can almost do your own survey, which Abby has, but you can do a survey in your mind going, okay, am I running into these things with myself? Am I running these things in my team? And we’ve all had these ups and downs where we go, I can actually relate to that. There was a time where I just wasn’t that passionate about what I was doing and I felt exhausted. I felt drained. Those, this incremental increase into burnout, it’s very subtle. You don’t see it coming until you’re falling off the cliff.


It’s this incremental increase. All of a sudden you’re at 14,000 feet and then boom, you’re down. So people are like, oh no, I’m not burnout, I’m fine. I just need a vacation. You have to be careful when you get into that because it’s, what is it, an ounce of prevention’s worth a pound of cure here. If you can get into prevention mode of burnout so you never have to experience that cliff, that is very hard to recover from. You have an opportunity here to say, hey, I have a couple of those symptoms registering. What can I do about that?


That’s a very, very good, authentic, vulnerable place to be. Is burnout like a nervous breakdown or is it different? Like, explain the differences or midlife crisis or what, help me navigate here. Absolutely, and I love that question because, you know, a lot of people think that, you know, well, burnout is depression or burnout is extreme stress or something like that. And it isn’t, it isn’t a mental health diagnosis.


I wonder if someday it will be. But the main symptoms of it, if you will, and this is research-based, there are three main things, and they are exhaustion, cynicism, and a feeling of inefficacy.


And those are really the three. So that’s separate from, can you be burned out and also depressed? Absolutely. Can you be burned out and experiencing high stress all the time? And it’s not necessarily those things, but can they coincide? Yes. And so that’s why it takes some untangling. And there is so much research around this and a lot of evidence-based intervention around it. There are.


are experts in the field and there’s an actual survey. There’s many of them, but there’s one in particular that you can take that really breaks down and scales for you in those three main areas. So exhaustion, cynicism, and feelings of inefficacy to kind of see where you fall on a burnout continuum. And then being able to look at what are the evidence-based, what are the solution-focused things that you can engage with.


Uh, so that you can be less burned out so that you can heal from that. And, and likewise, what are the things that you can put in place in a workplace that really guard from, you know, that burnout and that’s really about team culture, which is what Eric was referencing. So Eric was giving me some tangible triggers or information of where you can see it happening in your, in your workforce. And again, this is what I love about taking their therapeutic coaching.


And seeing that how it, there is a certainly a tangible, uh, effect that becomes more and more tangible as the training and the healing occurs. The, what would this look like personally? We see work there. They’re not coming in or there’s certain examples you’re saying. What personally are areas that you can see, Oh, this is happening. Cause as you mentioned it earlier that it carries in personal and business.


They’re not separated. It’s a constant dissatisfaction. It’s a constant, you know, tripping away, almost death by a thousand cuts that is happening. What do you personally hear from people that are on the way to burnout? I think one of the biggest things is feeling that, you know, loss of passion about what you’re doing and that loss of hope that it’s gonna get better.


Those are two big things that I hear a lot. Like, you know, you just feel like you’re engaged with this and you have to be, and you’re going through the motions when really you feel like you’re circling the drain. And a lot of those things that Eric mentioned that happen in teams happen in our homes too. So, you know, feeling like you have a short fuse and not being able to sleep and, you know, not engaging with healthy coping skills.


you know, really engaging with unhealthy coping skills because you really don’t feel like you have the energy, you know, to be able to do otherwise. Those are really some of the key things. But I think that inefficacy that people feel at work, like I’m not able to do what I wanna do. I’m not able to be who I wanna be. I’m not able to get the things done that I need to get done. Those are all things that also co-occur at home.


Abby will catch me in this.


And she’ll tune into that and say, what’s going on? And for me, it’s, hey, I’m just breathing. I do deep breaths to let that out. But if you catch yourself and you recognize it, oh my gosh, what’s the heaviness in my chest? What’s the heaviness I feel when I anticipate what’s coming? For us recently, it’s nervousness before you’re going up on stage and presenting, right? We went through Speak Like an All-Star. So there’s that similarity there.


But there are phases to this burnout. I gave you some simple, tangible things, but when you get into maybe a later stage, it’s now the frequency is occurring more. It’s not just every Sunday night. Now it’s nightly. Also fatigue. You’re just exhausted in between patients or you’re just tired. You don’t have this energy about you. There could be a doubt that you’re in the right place. You might doubt something personally. You might doubt something professionally.


It keeps going into exhaustion. It keeps going into a feeling of bitterness or helplessness. Those are some ways to describe how this progresses. And you don’t wanna be in stage two, three or four. You wanna catch this in stage one where you feel like, I can deal with this. That’s where you wanna start preventing this from getting worse. Absolutely.


I think what I would say about, to piggyback on what Eric just said, which was so good, is that when we don’t address it, so the word I use in my line of work is baseline, right? We have a baseline. This is who we are. This is our equilibrium. But when we don’t address things, that baseline gets higher and higher and higher. That means that when we encounter stress or a negative interaction with a patient or an employee or something like that, a team member.


than where you used to be able to maybe deal with that and go, okay, that was not fun, but I can engage with that and have some perspective and walk away. When you are in the midst of burnout, your baseline is so high, your reaction to that is not your typical reaction and you don’t have the energy for it. And it makes you feel, I mean, how many times have we heard people say…


I really loved what I did. And I never imagined not doing it. And now I’m just like, I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s too hard, it’s too overwhelming, all of those things. And that’s when you’re on that far end of the spectrum of burnout. And we got a lot of healing and catching up to do.


Wow. So I’m officially scared. So how do we overcome burnout? Help me. Yeah, absolutely. So here’s the really good news. And this is what has really helped me personally as I’ve dug into this. And I have a colleague that does this work with me. And she and I have just been really thankful that


there are evidence-based, solution-focused things that we can do that really do overcome burnout. And they are things like building hope and resilience. My favorite word is awe, building a sense of awe into our everyday lives, and really mending some of those relationships, you know, those relational pieces too that contribute to our burnout.


And here’s one of the biggest things, and you and I have had great conversations about this lately, Alex, and that is overall health. So the things that we know to do, and we think, oh, that’s so dumb. I’ve heard that a million times. I need to drink water. I need to sleep. I need to exercise. Those are things that we aren’t often being intentional about and incorporating into our lives in the way that we should. And we can’t heal from burnout if we aren’t doing those things.


And then the other piece is habit formation. I really, really love talking about identity-based habit formation because that’s way more powerful to me than saying, you know, okay, Abby, you need to drink water and exercise every day and you need to sleep good. Well, what’s the difference between that and a shift to be able to say, if I wanna be a healthy person.


then that means that every day I’m gonna ask myself, okay, Abby, should you have a brownie that you made for Eric and your son, or should you go for a walk, right? What would a healthy person do right now? And that is a very quick example of identity-based habit formation. Who do I wanna be? How do I wanna show up at work? How do I wanna show up in my family? And how do I align that habit formation to meet that?


It’s amazing timing because the presentation I gave talking about the powerful engagement, it’s you have to physically be there, your physical silo, your emotional silo, your, your mental silo, and then the spiritual silo, which is what you’re speaking about a purpose that you live a life with awe with passion and what are you choosing to create? And I think it sounds like therapeutic coaching helps you identify which


Process which technology is best for you because there’s so many we were having fun. Just comparing notes Oh this this this and you know them all So is that what therapeutic coaching does is you marry people with the method that works best for them to be able to? Again fill them up where they they have a sense of passion and purpose and they feel energetic Absolutely, and and how you just described that is


really what has excited me about marrying therapy with coaching, because we can go backwards in order to go forwards, but it’s also about what are the practical strategies that we can implement right now to make your life better. I’m going to be your biggest cheerleader, but also your accountability partner to say, you’re not going to reach your goals if you’re not doing these things.


each, you know, it isn’t broad. You have to be able to get to know somebody and say, okay, what are the things that are working right now and what’s not working? And here’s the great news, there’s wonderful things on our menu of things that work that you can implement right now to see change. Eric, you look like you had something very important to say. I mean, this is, it gets me excited because


Doctors will come to us, clients will come to us and say, I want growth in my practice. And I’m strictly looking at a business, an entity, a whole. What therapeutic coaching does is it says, yeah, you’re all spokes on a wheel going down the road and Eric’s gonna tell you how to navigate that road, but the spoke is broken. You’re gonna break down here in a moment, you’re gonna lose a team member. Robin talked about state interviews, one-on-ones.


you start getting a sense as a business owner that, hey, something’s up with my team member and they’re essential, they’re an essential key part of this cog to make it work. I can’t go down what Eric’s talking about going, that path, if these things aren’t healthy. And so it’s so connected to, if you want a healthy business, you’ve got to have a healthy life. You guys talked about those four things, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. I don’t get into a lot of that with what we’re doing with our clients, because we’re so focused on


customer service and patient care and systems and verbal skills, but yet they can’t apply these hacks. What am I running into? How come I can’t get them to turn the right way? Well, the freaking handlebars broken because the key person on the team member is broken. They need help. And so there are menu of items that you can do that Abigail will take you through when it comes to therapeutic coaching so that you can apply the things we do.


The interesting statistic that I just wanted to share, and this is one of those menu items, is know this. We talk about positive mental attitude. You can’t do the things we want you to do if you don’t have a positive mental attitude. Well, I can’t have a positive mental attitude because I’m stuck in the past in this thing that I’m still dealing with on a daily basis. And here’s the stat. This happiness, it’s 50% genetics, 10% circumstances, and 40% choice. That’s right.


So how are you able to navigate in all three of those categories, whether it’s on my side of coaching or the therapeutic side of coaching or just the genetics that you’re trying to overcome through your past. I took that slide out. That was in my presentation. That was in your presentation. I think you were, yeah, it was just, well, you, you, yeah, you gave me, you told me I had to cut out a little bit and have as much time. So I cut that slide out, but yeah, I’m going to do, I’ll do a whole podcast just on that. And I interviewed Dr.


is Dr. Piero Fauci on the happiness advantage and the happiness. You know what you got it from at the mastermind. Remember I gave that presentation. Remember on how of happiness. That’s where you got it. We talked about mind, body, spirit to lower stress. 50% is your genetics. That’s your happiness set point. Remember? We talked about that. That was it. Well, speaking of which, it’s amazing because when we meet with our mastermind group, okay, these are the most successful dentists that


really want to grow personally and professionally. And you see that at the end of the day, it is all about mindset. You see, we saw them at speaker training and they were, and these are powerful people and they were willing to get vulnerable and they have air there. They’re so brave that they’re willing to go to where they’re outside their comfort zone and their fear and do that with us. And it’s so beautiful to see that. And.


It’s really nice. Also, Eric, I see as I get to know, I mean, gosh, we’ve been together for over eight years, but also seeing behind the scenes with you and Abby in terms of, I texted Eric, Abby, and I was saying, what a great event and we have many more to do, and he said something like, I’m so grateful that you are allowing with our partnership to be able to get this message out there. It wasn’t how much money I made. It was I, Eric is so.


greedy in a good way of how do I share my purpose? How do I serve people and help people? It’s like you use the example when you spoke, what is it? Drinking out of a fire hydrant. You’re so passionate to serve people. And it sounds to me like the reverse of burnout is I just have to live my passion. I have to serve people to the highest level. And that’s where you’re at.


You’re kind of getting a little bit down. Money’s important, but you’re starting to lose. Cause again, where are you with passion? So I sometimes joke, I say like, you know, we have a very successful podcast. We have a very successful business, but I start focusing just on the numbers, where it is or things that, or I’m comparing, I feel contracted, but I feel alive when I’m saying, how can we serve? How can I do a better to serve people? And that’s what resonates. Does that make sense? All right. So. We like to keep these podcasts and nice bite size.


pieces. So if you’re for those that are listening or watching and would like to learn more about therapeutic coaching, we do offer that at All-Star Dental Academy through our coaching department under the president of coaching, Eric Vickery. And you can reach out to us and work with Abby. So you can do a free complimentary inquiry call to see if it’s a right fit for you. You can email Heather at All-Star Dental Academy or Eric at All-Star Dental Academy and we can get you set up for that. I’ll put that information as well.


I’ll also put in the show notes, as I mentioned, the link to the prior podcast about therapeutic coaching. And thank you, Abby and Eric, for being on the podcast. Remember to follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube. Get the episodes as they are released, and share with your friends, and share this important information about burnout, about therapeutic coaching. As I mentioned in the prior podcast, that with therapeutic coaching, we can work and help anybody, whether you’re any business or any…


person in a situation. I mean, our business coaching, we can help people. We do have clients that are outside of dentistry, but our focus is mostly dentistry. With therapeutic coaching, it’s really designed for if you have a pulse and you’re human, clarify, maybe even dogs can benefit. Abby’s got a very soothing voice. Even pets do very well around her. Thank you again and until next time, go out there and be an All-Star.


We hope you enjoyed this episode of Dental All-Stars. Visit us online at AllStarDentalAcademy.com.

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