Hang it up, or rev it up?

Dr. Rich Mounce explores re-examining enthusiasm for endodontics

Sooner or later, we all stand professionally at a decision fork in our career path. One road requires us to keep revving our professional engines to continue on and the other fork to possibly hang it up and do something else. When confronting these questions, which fork to take? What questions can guide us?

Consider these as a starting place:

  • Does clinical practice energize or deplete us? If depleting, is it reversible? If energizing, what can heighten our experience?
  • Are we in practice primarily for personal gain, or do we gain some other (and ultimately more important) nonmaterial benefit from practice?
  • If we could do anything we want in clinical practice, what would it be, and are these goals attainable?

Answers to these questions will be as individual as each of us. But, on balance, if we look forward to going to the office, clinical practice energizes us. If we don’t look forward to going to the office, it doesn’t. This energy is gravitational — it is or isn’t. This is not a rational decision that we like or dislike what we do.  At a “gut level,” our experience of practice is a reality whose truth, if we are honest with ourselves, cannot be denied.

Regardless of what we might tell others, each of us knows privately whether we are in the right occupation and/or whether we enjoy practice as much as we once did, or frankly, if we ever did.

Careers do not require linearity. A endodontic career can take myriad forms and combinations ranging from teaching, writing papers, doing research, donating time, or volunteering service, owning an endodontic supply company, consulting, working in the military or public health, and being an opinion leader, etc. Each of these represents but a small sample of many non-traditional endodontic career tracks. Having done of a few of these things myself, I can attest to their energizing my long-term desire to be involved in endodontics and in developing other skills.

When we see reality for what it actually is and not what we think it is (or should be), we can begin to fully utilize all of the resources at our disposal and move in a direction that is authentically ours alone.

Whether we are ready to retire or simply re-energize ourselves to find a new altitude, we must accept that here are no guarantees of success. There is no list of tasks at whose end is financial success and happiness. There are only clues that can point the way toward success and happiness — clues such as honesty, study, practice, empathy, communication, etc. When we see reality for what it actually is and not what we think it is (or should be), we can begin to fully utilize all of the resources at our disposal and move in a direction that is authentically ours alone. Said differently, as much as I would like to be the right fullback for Real Madrid soccer club, it is not going to happen. Can MounceEndo.com overtake Dentsply? Probably not, but why not try?

Do you believe in the possible? Are you an achiever or a cynic? You can tell an achiever from a cynic instantly. The achiever hears a new path and is interested in how a given task might be accomplished and wants to learn more, even if the outcome appears outwardly fantastic (like overtaking Dentsply)!

The cynic listens only to immediately tell you all the reasons something cannot happen, and of course, it never does. Which are you? And if something has been done successfully once, can it be done successfully again and probably better? Of course it can. What is the one step you can take today to re-energize your professional life? Take it. Enjoy the journey.

I welcome your feedback.


Rich Mounce, DDS, has lectured and written globally in the specialty. He owns MounceEndo.com, an endodontic supply company based in Neskowin, Oregon (605-791-7000). He can be reached at RichardMounce@MounceEndo.com, MounceEndo.com.

Dr. Mounce has no commercial interest in any of the products or companies mentioned in this column.

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