The highs and lows becoming an education supervisor

Education supervisor in dentistryDentistry Online speaks to Jamshaid Mansoor after his recent appointment as educational supervisor. We find out what the role involves and what he hopes to pass onto the next generation of dentists.

Please introduce yourself and give us a quick background.

I’m known as Jam or Dr Jam to patients and colleagues. I’ve been qualified now for eight years from the University of Manchester.

Since graduation I have completed various positions in multiple hospitals across the north west. I’ve worked in private, NHS and mixed practices. I also worked for the BDA and ICE Hospital and hold a teaching position within Manchester Dental School.

I’ve presented at conferences as well and written articles for international publications. So, I do various bits and pieces alongside owning my own dental practice, which I’ve now had for 15 months.

In the University of Manchester on a Friday, I work predominantly on the restorative side, so I teach restorative dentistry. However, I have great experience in both oral surgery and dental implantology. I also teach in a position in the ICE hospital in Manchester, helping dental implantology students.

What was the journey like to owning your own practice?

That was chaotic. I actually ended up presenting on the experience of acquiring my first practice. It was certainly a rollercoaster.

It was actually the second practice I’d attempted to purchase. The first one didn’t go as planned. So, it was hard to bounce back from that, but it has worked out fantastically.

Congratulations on your recent educational supervisor appointment. Can you explain what this role is?

I’m delighted to get this post. The post is in relation to graduating dental students. When dental students pass their final examinations, they need to spend a year under the supervision of an experienced colleague in a dental practice that’s been approved. Our practice has been inspected and approved.

I undertook an interview with a panel from the deanery within the NHS. I passed the interview process. Now we’re due to acquire one of the newly-qualified graduate dentists to start in September 2020.

The idea is to provide them with support, guidance and assistance when they need it. We’ll undertake teaching sessions during the week as well. We’ll spend time observing each other and the care we give to patients. Training dentists will also spend time doing what we call study days. They happen once a week or once every two weeks where they receive their CPD programme and follow that through.

What was the criteria your practice had to meet to pass?

It’s actually quite straightforward. The university team come and have a look at our decontamination procedures and processes. They also have a look at our policies, our risk assessments. They will often pick some policies and ask some questions regarding these as well, and examining various aspects of our administration.

The other side of it is to do with myself and my own work as a dentist. They look at my clinical records and clinical care. They look at different kinds of patients with different care needs. We sit down together and they went through the records with me. I was asked questions regarding each patient.

Fortunately, enough, we did really well and we were selected.

A graduate dentist might not be as efficient as an associate with a few years of experience. How does this impact your practice?

It is actually a massive benefit to us. I know many people might expect it to cost a practice or consider it a hindrance. But the flip side to that is, those patients who do come in to see the foundation dentist, the appointment times will be longer, so the dentist can cater to their needs. They spend longer with the patient and have more time in the chair. The effort and time given to those patients is significant and perhaps more than would be possible for an associate, where appointment times are short, and there is often the pressure of a target. The foundation dentists don’t have such specific targets, which is really good. It’s the best environment for them to learn. They can take their time, work without pressure.

There are patients out there who need more time spent. They need a bit more care. Whether that’s patients with disabilities, elderly patients, young patients, patients with anxiety. So, these patients feel the benefit from having that option to see a foundation dentist who can spend that time with them without any pressures.

This isn’t part of an NHS contract then? Anything a foundation dentist fulfils doesn’t go towards an NHS quota?

This is completely separate to the UDAs that is traditional for NHS practices. Any activity performed by foundation dentists does not go towards an annual target.

Where do you see dentistry going? What are you hoping to pass on to any foundation dentist passing through your practice?

That is a tricky question in the current climate, because things have changed from what we expected before the pandemic began. Right now, we really gear it towards trying to give that foundation dentist the best exposure to care that we can give. Whatever that is and whatever it allows us to do. Trying to put the foundation dentist’s and patient’s needs first.

I’m fortunate, I’ve been in education since I was 25. I’ve also spent time treating many different patients, both privately and NHS. A foundation dentist really needs to get patient care under their belts. Whatever we can do, the patient is the priority.

When the foundation dentist moves on into another dental practice, that practice will focus more on business. Patient care will obviously be a priority, but the foundation dentist might have different pressures in another practice. Do you cover that?

In the undergraduate curriculum, universities just don’t cover business at all in any way, shape or form. So, when students get out of university, they have no clue what’s waiting for them.

Foundation year, of course, we do need to educate the dentist in the elements that are awaiting them. There are different pathways and options waiting for them.

Without sounding too big headed, I think I have a lot of experience I can offer towards career pathways. I took various different routes and jobs.

Of course, during the year the foundation dentist is with us, the appointment times will decrease in length. They will become more and more astute and quicker with their care as well.

Do graduating dentists choose which practice they can go to?

The procedure has changed throughout the years. I graduated in 2012. We were one of the first years to follow this system. Since then the process has changed.

Now, from what I understand, we as the education supervisors fill out a biography and profile form. We send it into the deanery. The deanery uses that to ‘advertise’ us to students. Graduating dentists read the different biographies and can rank each practice as to which one they’d prefer to work in. From that they make the decision.

What advice would you give to practices looking to get involved in the scheme?

It’s different if you’re an associate. As a practice owner I have full control over this whole process. I’m able to get all the measures in place before the inspection. The inspection is really difficult. You need to make sure you get everything correct and to the satisfaction of the deanery. Your processes should already be at that level already. As a practice owner it is easier because you can direct things.

As an associate, it’s a little more difficult. You really need to sit down and have a meeting with the practice owner. Have an in-depth discussion about what needs doing and what’s in place.

It’s probably also a good idea to take advice from an existing educational supervisor as to what’s in place and what changes to make. Maybe even ask them to come in and have a look around at the practice and some of the policies.

Same for the practice manager. If you know a practice manager with the skills and experience in this process, ask them for advice.

After that it comes down to the relationship you have with the principal. If they’re willing to make changes to facilitate the process then associates can go full steam ahead. If you get the vibe things aren’t quite right, or something doesn’t feel right, you’re going to struggle.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’m happy for anybody reading to contact me to answer any queries about this. But it is very worthwhile and something worth doing. It’s something to be proud of.

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