How to Survive as a Young Dentist

This post is based on a talk by Reena Wadia at the Young Dentist Conference.  

What environment are young dentists graduating into?

After 5 years of hard studying and training, newly qualified dentists are spat back out into the real world where there are uncertain job prospects, there is increased litigation and less NHS funding available due to the austerity cuts.

On top of this, we are now graduating with much less experience than our more senior counterparts did - I could count the number of root canals I did in dental school on one hand! With so much competition how are we supposed to get good jobs? 

Reena shared her top tips with us to thrive as young dentists.

Reena's Top Tips 

1. Be confident

Believe in yourself and the treatments you provide. If you believe in yourself, your patients will too!

2. Maintain your record keeping skills and get good at communicating

Make sure your notes are contemporaneous i.e. whilst the patient is still in the chair. Make use of your nurse and those down-times in appointments where you usually chat to your patient e.g. when waiting for LA to take effect, when the patient is rinsing out. 

3. Invest in Loupes with illumination

Start around 2.5 X magnification as wearing Loupes is a learning curve, the more the magnification, the steeper the learning curve.
As well as illumination and magnification, you need to look at the resolution (the definition), chromatic aberration (any colour change) and spherical aberration (any shape change).  

A useful tip Reena gave us was to use the Loupes to look at a ruler to check the definition, colour, shape etc. Also check what type of battery comes with your Loupes light and how often they need to be charged.

4. Save up for a camera

Clinical photos are not only good for patient records, but you can reflect on the quality of your work as well as building up a portfolio of work which you can attach to your CV! See one of my previous posts about clinical photography in dentistry.

Always remember to take appropriate consent.

5. Get the job you want

The job market is really competitive at the moment, especially in big cities like London. There are plenty of ways to put yourself out there.

Contact practices that interest you directly and meet them face to face as this personal approach is much more appealing that a generic cover letter or CV and you also get the opportunity to speak to associates that work there.
Update your CV regularly, around once a month is ideal. If you are applying to hospital and associate jobs, it may be useful to have 2 separate CVs.

6. Network and find a mentor

Go to educational events and conferences, talk to as many dentists as possible. This is a great way to get to socialise with other dentists, but you can also learn lots from others and increases the chances of you hearing of any jobs going before they go onto job sites.

Having a mentor will also help you both professionally and personally.

7. Get published

This doesn't have to be in journals, there are lots of dental forum and education sites you can publish articles on, or why not start a blog (you'll get addicted to it like me!).

If you're looking into getting published into a journal, pair up with a mentor or a dentist who has been published before so you get the hang on how to structure your article.

8. Enjoy yourself!

The thing that gets you up in the morning should be something you enjoy doing! Yes we have our ups and downs, but if your career in dentistry is going to last a good 30 or 40 years, you've got to enjoy what you're doing!

Patients will notice it too! Dentistry may seem a bit doomy and gloomy at the moment with litigation, the GDC and NHS cuts, but there is so many opportunities out there for young dentists with some exciting developments coming up in the next few years!

And Reena's final non-dental tip I found particularly useful: Book your holidays! Make sure you have something to work towards, whether it be skiing in the Alps or surfing in Bali!

See my next post from the Young Dentist Conference: Endodontic Calamities.

Do you have any tips for young dentists? Please leave them in the comments section below!

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