Is implant dentistry the best career path for a working mum?

Morven McCauley explores implant dentistry as a solution for balancing work and parenting as a mum.

This month, Morven McCauley explores implant dentistry as a solution for balancing work and parenting as a mum.

There is no denying the paradigm shift of women in dentistry over the last few decades. In 2019, a significant milestone was achieved as the scale tipped in favour of females, surpassing the 50% mark. The most recent GDC registration report from July 2023 states that 52.3% of the 49,953 UK registered dentists are women. Surprisingly however, research has shown that women are still currently much less likely to enter the field of implant dentistry than their male colleagues. 

This celebratory transition to a balance in gender equality in the profession has women feeling better represented and supported with an array of inspirational role models, key opinion leaders and speakers, and that the opportunities available are fair and just.

However, as in every profession, there is one substantial inequality – when a woman wishes to start a family and take the plunge into motherhood. They are inevitably met with the tormenting battle of the work-life/mum-life balance. 

North of England Dentistry Show – have you signed up yet?

Morven McCauley will be speaking at the brand new Celebrating Women in Dentistry Lounge at the North of England Dentistry Show on 9 March.

What are the main issues facing women in dentistry? Have you witnessed a change in attitudes in dentistry? How do you feel about the future? All of these questions will be asked during a live panel discussion on Saturday 9 March at Manchester Central Convention Complex.

And it’s completely free to attend!

Balancing work-life and mum-life

As a disclaimer, I understand that every family dynamic, formulation and situation is incredibly varied. It is predominately assumed, however, that the woman will take career leave to initially raise and support a new-born child and require the flexibility in their work on their return. Moreover, there is an added strain if the woman serves as the primary income provider for the household.

Some additional anxieties are usually cast in with that cocktail of hormones. It could be a new colleague taking over your workload or surrendering high-value treatment plans to associates due to timing. You could potentially have to sacrifice the breastfeeding of your child to return to work. If you continue breastfeeding, you may be concerned about whether you can make it through a four-hour implant placement with an expressing pump break in the cupboard.

Unfortunately, I don’t see these concerns ever being eliminated for women. My purpose here is not to lament our troubles for a sympathetic response from our male colleagues. Instead I want to raise awareness to fellow female dentists on the beauty of the venture into implant dentistry where women are currently still the considerable minority. 

Work less, earn more 

As a profession, dentistry in general is incredibly flexible, allowing women the possibility of part-time hours. To a greater degree however, the high-productivity value of providing implant treatment creates the opportunity to work part-time without the financial sacrifice. A ‘work less, earn more’ strategy.

Where focus goes, energy flows 

As a parent, time is evermore finite and precious. Pursuing implant dentistry and its continued demands of professional development allows one to focus on honing and advancing one’s skills in this specific field of dentistry. You can then shed the time-consuming distractions of a multi-faceted approach. Not only does this provide greater time management, but improved engagement and skill.  

Albert Einstein said: ‘Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master.’

Timing – when the five-year plan doesn’t work

In a previous article, I explained my belief in the importance of a five-year plan with a vision board of targets and goals. Unfortunately, biology and Mother Nature don’t always coincide with this plan, as we discovered ourselves on a fertility journey for a couple of years. 

The modern format of postgraduate qualifications is constantly advancing as the culture progresses away from the male-dominated colleges, faculties and institutions, to inclusive contemporary and supportive networks.

With the understanding of modern demands of both work and family time, there are a vast number of implant qualifications now available providing flexible part-time learning through an online platform intertwined with clinical skill days and mentorship.

There tends never to be a perfect period to invest your time and finances to complete such training. It is a case of leaping into the breach with the end goal in mind. I completed my initial postgraduate qualification during my first pregnancy and maternity leave, and my diploma through my second. The timing was accidental in both cases, but it turned out to be a significant blessing in disguise. 

How to make the leap

If you are new to the realms of implant dentistry, I would advise starting with a detailed implant restorative course and gaining experience mastering effective restorations.

These are key to the survival and longevity of implants. This restorative experience will then provide significant value when you progress on to undertaking the surgical training, in understanding the importance of restorative design in correlation with implant positioning, type and system selection. 

‘Empowered women empower women’

In my experience, providing implant dentistry has allowed me to benefit from working part-time at a higher productivity rate. This brings not only financial reward, but focus in one field. This has allowed me to regain an increased passion and engagement in dentistry where I had perhaps previously lost spirit in the nine to five cycle.

I doubt any mum would say they have a faultless work/life balance – the mum guilt will ever be looming. But making the step into implant dentistry has tilted the scales in a more favourable way for myself. By encouraging women to progress into implant dentistry we may see the scales tilt here also toward gender equality, and a future with greater representation of women in the field. 

We value your insights!

If you are an associate, practice owner or partner, we kindly ask for a moment of your time to contribute to our research project. Your input is invaluable as we explore practice ownership models and the challenges and barriers within this field, particularly those faced by women. Please consider filling out our survey.

Thank you for your participation and support.

Catch Morven’s previous Implant Insights columns:

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