Dr Zuber Bagasi is no stranger to challenges.
Having taken part in numerous charity 10K runs and half-marathons over the years, he is preparing for his biggest challenge yet – the ironman triathlon.
Over the course of 17 hours, in July, Dr Bagasi will look to complete a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile cycle and a full marathon.
He has many motives for taking part in this particular challenge.
One is to raise money for numerous hospices dotted across every town in the north west that Synergy Dental has a presence; across Blackpool, Preston, Blackburn, Bolton, Bury and Ormskirk – as well as supporting dental charity Bridge2aid.
The other is to be the bastion of awareness and inspiration for fellow associate dentists across the industry – by demonstrating how much engaging in a fitness-related hobby can assist in alleviating some of the psychological burden that dentists carry, to ensure they are at the peak of their professional capabilities at all times.
‘I think it is often an under-reported aspect of the profession, but a lot of dentists suffer from stress and burnout, which has negative psychological impacts on them outside of their surgeries and trickles into their personal lives,’ says Dr Bagasi.
The stress and burnout he refers to stems from a number of sources – all of which are essential to stay on top of, if dentists are to run a successful practice.
Elements such as; complaints from disgruntled patients, financial concerns placed by the pressure of NHS’ units of dental activity (UDA) targets, dealing with personal issues, changing regulations and ongoing Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections, to name but a few.
‘I’ve been very fortunate not to suffer from severe stress and burnout – largely due to the fantastic team I have to support me – but I have a lot of friends in the industry who regularly turn to me for advice and tips,’ Dr Bagasi continues.
‘The majority of them usually ask me how to deal with the aforementioned issues as well as general advice.
‘My approach is always the same for each case – to provide a shoulder to lean on, to listen and then to advise them on how to tackle the problems based on how I have dealt with them in the past.
‘Most of the time it works, but there are times where it doesn’t and they call me back facing the same problems again.
‘That is when you have to start considering what type of psychological impact it may be having on them.
‘Could any other method help them to alleviate this stress?’
Dr Bagasi knows only too well how much training for long-distance endurance challenges has helped him prevent the stresses of being a busy dentist from overwhelming him.
Ever since he graduated from Birmingham University in 2005, he has always trained over long periods of time to prepare himself for numerous half marathons, as well as a series of shorter distance running, in five-kilometre and 10-kilometre runs.
When he isn’t training for these types of challenges he likes to head to his local gym and push his body to its limits by taking part in high intensity circuit training, weightlifting as well as a mixture of boxing and mixed martial arts training.
The impact of which has allowed him to leave any issues from his practice behind and allowing him to find something else to focus on.
Furthermore, the resultant clarity of mind has allowed him to expand his chain of dental practices – in just over 10 years, the 36-year-old from Bolton, has impressively grown his empire from a single practice, to eight and counting.
He says the formula to his secret is quite simple: ‘Something I tell my fellow colleagues is that it is important to have something else to focus on and challenge you outside of work.
‘This doesn’t exclusively apply to dentists either – anyone can and should do it.
‘There’s nothing better than engaging in some sort of exercise to help you.
‘For me, it is in the form of running and various cardio-based activities, but for others it may be in other forms – there are so many out there to choose from.
‘Exercise has been scientifically proven to release endorphins in your brain to energise your spirit and make you feel good about yourself.
‘It helps you break out of the cycle of negative thoughts brought on by stress that can lead to anxiety and depression.
‘When you finish a training session or a gym class, the feeling of achievement can get addictive and motivates you to challenge yourself more.
‘The ethos of the work/life balance is something that runs through Synergy Dental Group.
‘Associates are encouraged to have a healthy balance between practice life and their own lives.
‘In clinical practice we like to make sure the associates are not drowned with excessive UDA targets and have a regular feed of private dentistry that they enjoy.
‘All of our associates are regularly encouraged to upskill their clinical dentistry and spend longer times with their patients, so they can provide a higher level of dentistry including cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry and dental implants.’