Sunday, 4 September 2016

Capital Dentistry: Living and Working in London

It's been 2 years since I upped sticks and moved down to London. But what is life like as a dentist in the capital?



As many of you may be aware, I moved down to London after graduating in Newcastle to start my foundation training. Having moved about a far bit throughout my life, I didn't find the transition too difficult although in the 2 years I've been here I still seem I've kept some of the northern twang I picked during my 5 years in the North East!

If you have lots of friends who aren't dentists, you may notice a trend of them all moving down south after graduation to start grad schemes or internships. As dentists we have the luxury of being able to move to pretty much anywhere in the country as we are not tied to the big financial hubs of the big cities. I've noticed that quite a few of my fellow dentists choose to live in the capital for a few years before moving back to where their family is or where they grew up, mostly because of the huge financial investment it is to live somewhere like London. 

No longer can I get a pint for less that £4, and it's very normal for over half your salary to go on rent. Is it worth it? I definitely think so....


Foundation Training

DFT spots in London are highly contested and students need to rank pretty high in order to be offered a place; however there are lots more places in London (there were around 110 or so when I was doing it) and the training days and courses you get to do are pretty decent!

Because the London Deaneries (North Central, North East, North West, South East, South West) all come together for some of their training, the conferences we attended as study days were very well organised and were on the level of national conferences with incredible speakers (look back through my blog to see some of the summaries of these days). As part of the North East scheme, I also had the opportunity to publish a poster and present it at one of these conferences (see my blog post about this here). 

The training you receive in practice can vary. I had a fantastic year and I have friends who also learnt so much from their practices especially when they were in high needs areas. I did also hear some not so great feedback from my peers when they were in practices who were very financially driven, especially the more central they were where having a trainee was more a financial decision than a educational one. This shouldn't put you off training in London, it's important to pick your training practice for the right reasons (see my post about this here). 


Networking

Simply because there's so much going on in London, meeting other dentists is so easy! I can imagine if you work is in Cumbria or Truro that it can be easy to become isolated in your practice. But here there are always dental events going on; from conferences to study clubs to social events! If you've also gone through a training programme in London (DFT, DCT, MClinDent etc.) you will naturally be involved in group of peers as well as teachers and trainers. 

Having these people to turn to when you need support or advice I feel is crucial to help maintain your confidence as a dentist as well as providing the best care for your patients. Having people about you can turn to to help can give you real peace of mind. 

Meeting others also helps you to develop your own ideas about your career and may even open up other professional opportunities!


Life as an Associate

There are many unique aspects of general dental practice when you live in London.

One is living in such a multi-cultural place. You may work in an area with a high population of a certain ethnic group, or you may get a wide mix of patients. It is a regular occurrence for me to need the services of a translator to help with things. You also learn about different cultures and how this may impact their dental care. 

Whilst I worked in Whitechapel, I did a crown prep for a Bengali lady and was shocked when I looked in the book later on in the day to see her fit appointment was in 5 weeks time! It was only when I spoke to the receptionist that I realised it was because Ramadan was coming up which the patient was observing. Surprisingly, my temporary crown did last until that fit appointment, but after this I checked with all my patients to see if they were fasting if they needed follow up treatment!

Because of high concentration of dentists applying for associate positions in London, the UDA rates can be lower than in other areas of the country. This is an important thing to consider together with the high costs of living in London, can you survive on £9/10 a UDA? 


Further Training

Having multiple large institutes and dental hospitals in London (Kings, Guys, Barts, Eastman) really helps if you are looking for further training or postgraduate qualifications. It also helps that there are lots of district hospitals not only within London itself, but also at its suburbs which are easily commutable (for example, Addenbrookes in Cambridge is only 50 minutes away from Kings Cross station).

This also means there are more jobs in hospital or community settings if you're interested in that aspect of dentistry, but also almost every private postgraduate course you can find has a London date if you want to develop your skills in practice.



Living in London isn't for everyone no matter how much I sell it. Commuting on a busy tube isn't fun, but the benefits of living somewhere where there's always something to do and so much to see definitely outweigh it in my opinion! It's hard for me to imagine living anywhere else!


Have I convinced you to move down to London? Leave your comments in the section below. 


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