Bridging the gap – how to thrive in dentistry

Bridging the gap - how to thrive in dentistry

Bhavin Patel explains why moving out of your comfort zone is crucial to development in dentistry.

It’s been a while since I last wrote an article and how the world has changed. The past few years have been a huge challenge to our profession and even more so for younger dentists and the new graduates.

A combination of Covid, lockdowns, cost of living and the economy not to mention the problems with NHS dentistry has been tough.

Social media has not helped which can be toxic with stories of doom and gloom and defensive dentistry. Even when you’re following ‘Denfluencers’ it can leave you feeling disillusioned and inferior on how great their life and dentistry is and the latest awards they’ve won.

This can have a huge impact on ones mental health and fuel an imposter syndrome we all get from time to time.

Positive side

I believe in positivity and mindset; I think this has been a massive part of how I have developed over the years transitioning from associate to principal and NHS to private dentistry.

I want to now help as many dentists as I can to show them there is a much brighter positive side to our profession and so many great colleagues out there that can and want to help!

I’m very grateful for the career I have had so far now dividing my time between an associate in a great mixed practice in the suburbs with also having my own practice on Wimpole Street.

The mainstream media continuously convey the bleak economic outlook and inevitable impact this fear will have on our patients and hence our diaries.

We can use as an opportunity to reset retrain and be ready for when we bounce back where patients will be ready to accept the bigger plans and treatments you can offer. Now is the time!

Hard work and grit

An accountant once told me the best thing to invest in is yourself and that has stuck since. Learning never stops and this year I even thought I would practice what I preach.

I hit the books myself not having gained any further formal qualifications for 15 years and sitting the exam in implant dentistry at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh that I was lucky enough to pass!

I had the graduation ceremony too that I could share my young family. It’s rare for children to see their parents graduate; I hope it will last in their memories to show them what determination, hard work and grit can achieve to inspire them. Staying in your comfort zone is not where the magic happens!

We have all been on courses where we’ve left feeling more confused and anxious doing the treatments than before we started seeing some real experts and feeling like we’re never going to be as good so why even try.

This is why I have a real passion for education and bridging the gap between courses and cold face of primary care no matter what level you are at or where you’re working you can implement anything you learn straight away no matter how little.

Putting into practice

The biggest waste of time and money is going on courses and not gaining something from being there and benefitting your work life as a result of doing it.

This is the main reason I have recently joint Smile Dental Academy as a support tutor/coach to help delegates implement strategies they learn and putting them into practice straightaway.

I am currently in a very fortunate and unique position where I can speak to people with a variety of hats on with my prior experience of hospital, teaching and varied primary care.

I am an associate in the NHS where I have experience of the current UDA system of working as well as the piloting of the reformed contract.

But at the same time, I am also a principal in a purely private practice in the West End. Therefore I can appreciate the day to day challenges of running a practice.

I pride myself of continuing to work within these environments and meet the exact same dilemmas that the delegates face on a day-to-day basis from both associate and principal viewpoints.

Thrive without prejudice

Hopefully this enables me to assist on various aspects of NHS and Private dentistry allowing me to help where I can to offer support, direction and advice.

The academy has the same passion for postgraduate education as myself and they have the whole portfolio of courses; whatever you are interested in and whichever level of experience you have there’s something for everyone.

There’s opportunity to refresh or gain brand new knowledge to whichever level you choose. They have fostered an environment where you can learn and thrive without prejudice or feeling judged from some of the best speakers in the country if not the world.

I know first hand how difficult primary care can be and more so with the current economic situation. But please remember this WILL come to an end and to reiterate my advice would be to change your mentality toward it.

If we use this as an opportunity to revaluate, reset and upskill ready for when brighter days return. Continuous development on any course you choose to go on is great for your own wellbeing, work satisfaction and puts you around like-minded people that are wanting to help you to be your best self.

With the right mind and skill set we can all learn, grow and excel which in my opinion is a win-win all round.

This helps the practice to progress, treatment options grow and most importantly, benefits your patients as they receive the best level of care you can deliver.

Bhavin Patel BDS(Hons) MFDS RCS (Eng) Dip MJDF AssocFCGDent Dip Imp Dent RCSEd.

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