Nigel Jones considers the many options available in dentistry right now, and why investing some time and energy can get you on the right path to a successful and happy career.
There was a sobering contribution to the recent BAPD webinar in which I was lucky enough to be a panellist. It came from a young dentist who had become so worn out by the battle to remain an NHS dentist that she was seriously questioning her commitment to the profession and felt rudderless.
This loss of a sense of direction is understandable. It is, after all, a time of enormous change in UK dentistry; change that is unnerving and profoundly uncomfortable even if the current supply and demand imbalance in dentistry brings with it a choice of all sorts of opportunities.
However, mustering the energy to think through where to next take your career can be nigh on impossible when you get home after a tough clinical day and simply want to fall asleep on the sofa.
We are also, by and large, hard wired to be resistant to change. We prefer to stay within our comfort zones and familiar patterns even when we know that change will be good for us.
We can fall into the trap of analysis paralysis which the psychologists tell us looks like over thinking rather than doing; focusing on worst case scenarios; constant brain fog or haziness; feeling too overwhelmed to start or indeed convincing yourself you don’t know where to start.
Reason for dentistry
Well perhaps a good place to start is reminding yourself why you went into dentistry in the first place. It definitely wasn’t to become ever more competent at adapting to the requirements of the various guises of NHS dentistry.
So, what was it when you began your career? What way of practising dentistry would give you the most happiness in the future?
This is not just an academic question.
The change equation, a model put forward by Beckhard and Harris, states that when dissatisfaction is multiplied by a vision for a better future and an easy first step, you can overcome resistance to change. It’s written as a multiplication because if any of those three elements is missing, change will not happen.
Considering the answer to that question of what kind of dentistry will give you most happiness will help you create your personal vision for the future of your career. With clarity around your destination, you can start planning the journey.
If your vision involves providing care to the most vulnerable in society, you can decide if NHS dentistry is in fact, the most appropriate vehicle for getting you to that destination as it might well be.
If your vision involves providing general dentistry to the best of your ability, not just the best under the circumstances, you may look at the private option.
If you want complete control over your day-to-day, you might want to set up a small boutique private squat.
And if you are excited by the business of dentistry, you may have aspirations to build a small group.
There is a vast array of choices available to UK dentists at the present time and stories abound of new ventures achieving success that could only have been dreamt of in those pre-pandemic days.
But choice can be bewildering and, as the Cheshire Cat said to Alice, it doesn’t matter what path you choose if you don’t know where you want to go.
So try to find time and energy to remind yourself of where you want to go and where you want to be, and make a plan to get there.
If you’re considering your options away from the NHS and are looking for a provider who will hold your hand through the process whilst moving at a pace that’s right for you, why not start the conversation with Practice Plan on 01691 684165 or book your one-to-one NHS to private call today practiceplan.co.uk/nhsvirtual?
For more information visit the Practice Plan website www.practiceplan.co.uk/nhs.