Practice Makes Perfect – with purpose comes clarity

purposeNigel Jones draws attention to the importance of purpose and how it can help to shape the future of your dentistry.

I recently hosted a webinar on behalf of the BAPD. I had the privilege of interviewing a practice owner. He recently changed his practice from being largely NHS to being wholly private.

In the discussion, we explored his reasons for moving away from the NHS. As he explained the challenges, the pressures he felt as an NHS dentists were mirrored in his body language.  

We then moved on to talking about the benefits he felt a life in private practice was offering. His whole demeanour changed. He became animated and started smiling broadly at the benefits he was already feeling and the benefits he expected to come in time. It was like watching him rediscover his purpose.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of purpose following some excellent, thought-provoking discussions with Mark Topley, formerly CEO of the dental charity Bridge2aid. He now runs a consultancy helping dental practices and other organisations develop and implement an environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy.


If you Google purpose in relation to business, you may stumble across a white paper published by the chartered management institute (CMI) entitled: ‘The what, the why and the how of purpose.’

Now, during the course of my career, I’ve been exposed to a lot of management theory. Much of it is difficult to adapt to a dental practice setting.

This one though, if you have the time and can see past the business jargon, is worth the effort.

It lists the five reasons why companies are becoming purpose driven:

  1. To increase and maintain legitimacy in business
  2. To attract, motivate and retain talent
  3. Drive strong customer and stakeholder relationships
  4. To increase employee psychological wellbeing
  5. To increase business performance. 

The last one is last for a reason; get the previous four right and the fifth will follow.

Although he didn’t use exactly the same words, when the practice owner I interviewed was becoming so animated, these were the sentiments he was expressing and in that order.

Practice owners and associates across the UK are facing up to some big decisions regarding the direction in which to take their careers. Given the fatigue that has characterised so much of the past two years, it is understandable that some people are unsure where in the fog to start.

Perhaps therefore, a good place is with purpose. With purpose comes clarity of what is important to you rather than what is important to the system.

Read more Practice Makes Perfect columns:

Follow on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar