Regulators, COVID-19 and ARF payments – why I’ve left dentistry

COVID-19, regulations and ARF – Kate Hoddinott discusses the reasons behind her decision to leave her career in dentistryKate Hoddinott discusses the reasons behind her decision to leave dentistry and why the last few months were the final straw.

What’s your dental career been like?

I’ve been in the profession for 15 years. I started as a trainee nurse and went on to become practice manager in my last role. I left that last year and then started a new role in another practice as nurse/receptionist. I left my first role because I found management too stressful. There was a new principal – he was also a dentist and never had time to support me outside of his clinical role.

I had been practice manager at the practice for 10 years and enjoyed it up until a point. I successfully managed two CQC inspections, which I considered a great achievement. The compliance got too great a pressure. With no guidance or support from above, I was backed into a corner.

I had been seeking to leave for a while and then an opportunity came up, which I took.

When did you you start to doubt the profession?

I always thought of dentistry as a great profession until HTM 01-05 came in. In terms of the new decontamination procedures, I enjoyed getting them into place, managing the installation of a decontamination room and I can see how important the changes were for decontamination. But that was a turning point for me because it involves an awful lot of red tape.

How has the pandemic influenced your decision?

I took my new role up last year and have really enjoyed being in the reception team and nursing in a very busy and professional practice. But lockdown has made me re-evaluate my life and during furlough, took stock of things. The impending new SOPs I thought took it all a step too far.

What we have to do now is utterly crazy. Again, as with the introduction of HTM 01-05, dentistry has to jump through so many hoops compared to other industries. I have had enough. There will be no end.

My nursing skills have taken a hit – the thought of having to nurse in that environment (which I haven’t done since before lockdown) scares me. I generally stood in for holiday cover and worked with a hygienist when I did nurse. As a result, I felt quite anxious. Even without all the new PPE and requirements to deal with.

Why else have you decided to leave dentistry?

So, I have decided to completely change my career. I feel the GDC doesn’t support its members at all. We pay a subscription, and what for? I personally prefer to pay monthly for things because I can’t generally afford a lump sum payout. Paying monthly isn’t an option with the GDC. There is no room for manoeuvre.

I personally do think the ARF payments put people off from returning. Yes, it’s a governing body, but there’s no support for registrants. Therefore, there’s no incentive really. We might as well put money in the bin. I was relieved this year to know I didn’t have to renew.

I’m actually glad to be getting out. Anxiety had a big part to play and I’m relieved that I’ve managed to find something exciting to get my teeth into. No pun intended!

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