Mentoring corner – your questions answered

QuestionsYour questions are answered by our panel of experts – Nairn Wilson, Judith Husband and Shivana Anand.

How do you see the future of education shifting in the dental schools over the next few years?

Nairn Wilson: ‘Dental education at all levels is critical to the effectiveness and standing of the profession. In contrast to postgraduate and CPD programmes provided by dental schools, undergraduate programmes, as determined by GDC guidance, now suffer certain limitations. Subject to the GDC updating its guidance and dental schools being suitably funded and supported to provide undergraduate dental degree programmes fit for future purpose, the shift in dental education in the UK should be dramatic.

‘Aspects of the shift considered necessary include dentists of the future being selected, educated and trained to be as much oral physicians as dental surgeons with, amongst a variety of new and enhanced skills, sophisticated IT, management and leadership, risk assessment and care planning skills, aimed at increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the dental team and helping patients to realise the goal of “teeth for life”. The clinical instruction of dental students of the future should focus on skills and competences that go beyond the primary care skills and competences of DCPs.’

What is your view on the desire for young dentists to rush into specialty training?

Judith Husband: ‘Young dentists are entering a very competitive and dynamic profession; often with financial pressures from student debt coupled with a challenging job market. It is vital to develop clinical and interpersonal skills way beyond the single year provided by foundation training. The majority of dentists will work in general practice in some capacity, this is a demanding and highly rewarding sphere of dentistry. Gaining a wide experience of clinical cases and working environment is essential to a successful and rewarding career.

‘Some may know on qualifying that a specific branch of dentistry is for them, but this is the exception. Undertaking a variety of posts in different settings, either formally through dental core training or informally with a mixture of general practice (both NHS and private) together with community gives a firm grounding on which to base future decisions.

‘Don’t plan a career around potential NHS pathways that are still being developed, or on perceived status and current fashions. Focus on your personal enjoyment and development – build confidence, resilience and your own support networks. A dental career is many decades long -–invest the time to research, explore and experience before committing, and potentially closing off opportunities.’

How should a young dentist looking for general practice work look towards building a fun and respected career?

Shivana Anand: ‘1) Always be authentic! Be true to who you actually are, would be my first and foremost piece of advice. Anything you want in life should be created organically. If you are interested in cosmetics, ortho, surgery or even academics and teaching, then they should naturally show in your persona and when networking with people. Ensure you highlight these on your CV so when you go for an interview naturally the conversation progresses in your favour

‘2) Do something new and different regularly. I always try to put myself out of my comfort zone. It allows your brain to be used in its full capacity, which automatically gives you growth both personally and professionally. By trying new things you also open yourself up to new people – potential work colleagues or business partners

‘3) Respect is a term I think is earned and not given. As a young professional it is really important to remember that being respected in the community takes time and consistent efforts. The nature of our career is to be conscientious, ethical and caring. By doing so you allow yourself to be respected automatically without hesitation. The young dentists today have amazing role models within the profession that have had decades of experience. Try to model your behaviour on one of these mentors.’

If you have any burning questions, please send them to [email protected] to feature in the next edition of Young Dentist magazine. Follow @youngdentistmag on Twitter for the latest news and updates.

Nairn Wilson is president of the British Dental Association and honorary professor of dentistry at King’s College London, where he was professor of restorative dentistry and dean and head of the college’s internationally renowned dental institute between 2001 and 2012, and deputy vice principal (health) between 2009 and 2012. Nairn’s many other positions in dentistry have included editor of the Journal of Dentistry (1986-2000), dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (1995-1998), president of the General Dental Council (1999-2003), co-chair of the Forum of European Heads and Deans of Dental Schools (2007-2012) and more recently registrar of the UK Public Health Register (2012-2015) and professional strategic executive, European Federation of Periodontology (2012 to date).

Judith Husband is a clinical dentist, formerly working in secure setting dental care. She is also a member of the Wesleyan advisory board and chair of the Oxfordshire Local Dental Committee. Judith has a wide experience of healthcare reforms, liaising with significant stakeholders and keeping up to date with changes throughout healthcare, in particular NHS dentistry. Judith sat on the BDA PEC and was chair of the association’s Education, Ethics and the Dental Team Working Group.  Contact Judith via Twitter @Judith_Husband.

Shivana Anand is a King’s College London newly qualified dentist. She is currently doing her dental core training at UCLH & The Eastman in maxillofacial and oral surgery. She also works at Harley St Dental Studio part time. Shivana enjoys her role as an honorary tutor at Guy’s Hospital. She is the co-founder of Dental Training Consultants, which is a group that organises courses for undergraduates to aid in their dental foundation interviews.

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