Choosing the right associate position

Vishal 12-11-14Vishal Patel gives you several points to think about when looking for your first associate position.

Looking for your first associate position post vocational training will be a real eye opener, and the following are a few things to consider when searching for a position.

The important thing to realise that compared to your vocational training post, this time you are potentially making a much more long-term decision regarding your career, so it’s critical that you assess as many aspects of the jobs you are applying for and don’t just accept a role unless you are 100% comfortable with what it entails.

As many dentists do, when I was applying for my first long-term job, I looked on the British Dental Journal (BDJ) jobs website mainly, which I found very useful, but another good tip is asking around friends in the profession, as you never know if their principals may also be looking to fill a vacancy.

The main things when looking for the right post is to answer the following questions honestly:

1. What location do I want to work in?

The area is key for many reasons. You may want something close to home, unless you don’t mind a longer commute. Also the area will often give you an insight of the patient demographic and the sort of issues you may be dealing with. Often more deprived regions, there will be more work to complete per case to achieve your UDAs and there may be less potential to pick up private work.

2. How many days a week do I want to work?

Many people want to work full time, but nowadays to take a break many dentists (including me) take half a day to one day off just to relax, as practice life can be stressful! This is, however, a very personal choice.

3. Am I happy doing mainly NHS work or would I like the opportunity to do private work?

If you wish to do private work, then pick an area that is relatively affluent, as patients in these locations are more likely to wish to have private options. However, a decision regarding private work may be better considered once you are more comfortable with general dentistry and have done more postgraduate training.

4. What would I be happy with as a salary?

Although many dodge this question it’s important that you consider what you‘d be happy earning, as this to some extent will dictate things such as the number of days you work and what you feel is an acceptable units of dental activity (UDA) value etc. On average I’d estimate a practitioner working full time on the NHS would earn between £50-70,000 per annum.

Another few hot tips when researching into advertised jobs…

If you have noticed a job keeps getting re-advertised in a short period of time, then best to avoid it as there is often a reason for this. There may be an issue with the principal or management, which has meant that no dentist will stay for any period of time, so be careful!

Often via job adverts you can get an idea of which surgery the job advert is for, or even sometimes they actually have a link to their websites on the advert. My advice is definitely to look at the website. Look at the ‘about us’ section in particular to get some information on the practice principal as well as associates. You may note that you have similar areas of interest in dentistry as the principal does or find out other common interests such as sports etc. that could form part of the conversation during interviews.

In summary, competition for jobs at present is increasing, but it doesn’t mean you should accept a job that you’re not happy with. If in doubt trust your ‘gut feeling’ when considering if a role is right for you!


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