There’s no avoiding discomfort

Nigel Jones considers the word ‘depaysement’ and what this might mean in the context of dentistry. 

Relatively recently, I’ve come across the French word ‘depaysement’.  Given it’s often described as untranslatable, the best I can offer after a few internet searches is to say it is a noun used to describe the weird feeling you get when you’re lost in something you don’t understand.

Depaysement is most often used in relation to travelling abroad and experiencing different cultures. If you were to attempt a literal, though clumsy translation it would mean ‘to be uncountried’.  For some, the thought of becoming ‘uncountried’ creates feelings of freedom, excitement and discovery.

Others become fearful, craving the perceived safety of the known over the potential risks of the less familiar.

Shortly after my introduction to this term, I found myself sitting in front of two owners of a dental practice with a large NHS contract. I listened to their deliberations and being reminded of the enhancement to my French vocabulary.

Too intimidating

In common with so many other NHS dentists, they are inhabiting a tough world. But perhaps worn down by the pressures, the thought of becoming ‘uncountried’ by leaving the NHS altogether feels too intimidating a prospect at the present time.

Their challenge though is the inescapable sense that the place they currently think of as home is less and less conducive to a healthy, happy life. Unable to recruit an associate, they are being forced into negotiating a reduction in UDAs.

Struggling to retain staff, their salary bill is escalating along with many other practice overheads.

Right decisions

The double financial whammy of the squeeze on their profitability and battling the cost of living crisis in their personal finances which is affecting us all, threatens their quality of life.

And that’s before the stress of amplifying the risk of complaints through compromises with patient communication as their appointment treadmill speeds up.  It’s no wonder they’re tired, demoralised and disorientated.

And there’s the rub. Staying in the NHS to avoid becoming ‘uncountrified’ is, for them, close to being untenable.  In the spirit of no change not being an option, a journey to a different place is unavoidable. I just hope they find the strength and resolve to overcome their fear of depaysement and make the right decisions for their futures.

If you’d like to find out what options are available to you and what support you could have to leave the NHS, contact Practice Plan for a free, no-obligation conversation.

Call the team on: 01691 684165 or book your free and confidential one-to-one NHS conversation by visiting

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