Three Must-Read Books for Dentists Who Want to Stress Less

Josie Dovidio, DDS


As clinicians, our competence depends on continually expanding our knowledge and skill set in the art and science of dentistry. It would make sense that our competency as practice owners and leaders would require this same level of study to increase our business acumen.

Gaining knowledge outside of clinical continuing education would afford us the opportunity to run better practices and increase staff engagement, which ultimately translates into a better patient experience. Having a better grip on your business and human capital translates to dealing with less daily stress.

Many of us wouldn’t even know where to begin gathering this knowledge, but it’s as easy as curling up on your couch with a good book. To start you on this journey, here are three books that will get you on the road to better business and less stress.

Profit First

You can begin with Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz.

Practice owners are familiar with the “cash-eating monster” part. Wouldn’t it be nice to convert to a money-making machine by following relatively simple calls to action? This well-written book will help you prioritize profit creation, while teaching you how to best manage operating expenses and prepare for future spending. In essence, this is a budgeting book that outlines ways to ensure profitability, while preparing for inevitable spending, like taxes, and unforeseen circumstances.

Admittedly, it’s easier to spend freely while growing your business. The problem is that, without mindful allocation of funds, you may end up spending on low-profit or no-profit areas that won’t provide a good return on investment. Spending mindfulness goes a long way in reducing stress by contributing to the health of the business.

You may be asking if focusing on profit is damaging to patient care and if it would make you a bad dentist. Well, aside from the obvious need to be fairly compensated for your time, if you’re not profitable, you may lack the working capital to add new technology to your practice or provide better dental materials to your patients.

Additionally, it’s much harder to give raises to employees if your business is not financially secure. Stress that comes from staff management is significantly worse when your best team members are wooed by a competitor over a few bucks or meatier benefits packages.

Profitability is important, not just to carry you through the cyclical nature of scheduling, but also to make the practice easier to sell when you eventually decide to retire. In short, being mindful of your spending and profitability are healthy for business and your stress levels.

The One Thing

Next, check out The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.

Simplifying your workload is a great way to de-stress. Dentists are like jugglers trying to keep multiple swords in the air. In addition to running a practice and treating patients, they implement new techniques, new technology, and office remodels all at once.

The One Thing argues that streamlining efforts by tackling the one task that will get you closest to accomplishing your goals is the most efficient way to actualize them. While it sounds simplistic, focusing on the activity that will get you to the finish line faster makes more sense than spreading yourself thin and spinning your wheels.

This book systematically explains how to extirpate busywork so you can focus, each day, on the task that gets you closer to your goals. The mindset and strategy outlined is not only practical but just as effective in the work setting as in your personal life.

What is the one focus you can shift or action you can take that will make everything else easier to accomplish or unnecessary? Well, my answer for you today would be to read The One Thing.

The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

Finally, read The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People by Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White.

Want less drama at work? Or maybe some acknowledgement for all you do? Showing appreciation for a family member or friend can be as easy as sending a special gift or thoughtful text. But when it comes to your colleagues and team members, how can you appropriately relay your appreciation in a way that is well received, or even simply acknowledged?

The premise of this book is that, by understanding the personality of each team member and learning how to interact with them in that context, you can reach them on a deeper level.

Based on The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, Chapman’s 1992 bestselling work, this book outlines different ways people would like coworkers to express appreciation towards them. For example, if your love language is “receiving gifts,” you’re more likely to feel loved when you receive a gift. But it’s also common for people to show their affection in the way they prefer to receive it.

In this example, you may show appreciation to your staff by giving them gifts. Gifts are great, unless the person you’re giving them to prefers “quality time.” They would feel much more valued if you skipped the gift and, instead, engaged them in conversation.

The purpose of learning these love languages is to identify another’s preferred language so you can affirm them in the language they understand. If you’re the type of doc who offers gifts that don’t seem to be appreciated, perhaps you’re speaking the wrong language.

Maybe your staff lights up when you compliment them (words of affirmation) in front of patients or other team members. While understanding these concepts will require some investigation on your part, knowing the love language of individual team members can bolster work relationships.

Your Turn

We all know there is enough on your plate. But what if by focusing on one thing, like spending a little time on your porch with a book, you could develop the skills required to streamline your efforts and reduce your stress? Wouldn’t it be worth the investment of time to increase your profit in peace? The pursuit of knowledge that leads to career enjoyment is a language we can all understand. Grab a book and get to it!

Dr. Dovidio graduated in 1997 from Northwestern University Dental School with honors from the Academy of General Dentistry. She completed advanced training at the VA Medical Center in North Hills, California, where she served as chief dental resident. A certified yoga teacher, Dr. Dovidio lives in Southern California with her husband and two sons and runs Yoga for Dentists, an online community of dental professionals who are interested in healthy living. She offers free content on the Yoga for Dentists YouTube Channel and podcast as well as in a private Facebook group and on Instagram. For a free End of Workday Meditation you can download to your device, click here or visit She can also be reached at

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