A Guide to Portfolio Careers

You might have heard the term 'Portfolio Career' but what does this mean and how can you develop your portfolio career...?



What is a Portfolio Career?

A portfolio career, or 'wearing different hats' as I like to coin it, is where you have more than one role or job throughout the week which keeps your week varied, often in completely different fields. 

This can be a 'Saturday Job' alongside your main employment, or a completely different role in a different industry even! 


What Examples are there in Dentistry?

There are lots of examples you can think of within Dentistry where you hold additional roles or have other projects alongside your main employment. For example:
  • Holding roles in other dental settings alongside your main employment e.g. splitting your week between dental practice, community, hospital etc.
  • Educational roles e.g. FD trainer, clinical tutor, teaching in courses, lecturing, Deanery roles, Examining
  • Non-clinical leadership roles e.g. Fellowships, Dento-legal advisors, Dental Practice Advisors
  • Positions of responsibility e.g. Royal College Ambassadors, Trustees of Charities, Roles in Societies 
  • Freelance roles e.g. copywriting, blogging, editor, consulting, research


My Experience of Portfolio Careers

I think I have always tried to keep my hand in several aspects of dentistry so I can have a varied week, which I love! From starting my blog after dental school, to working in practice alongside working in hospital and community. 

But I would say my understanding of portfolio careers really deepened once I started my Clinical Fellowship with the Office of the Chief Dental Officer alongside my specialist training and starting on the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme

Holding different roles has its pros and cons. 
  • Every day is different. This brings variety to the week and each role can really complement each other, but it does mean you have to make sure you have to know where you are going and what you are doing! Juggling priorities and being on top of your diary is a must
  • Especially doing freelance work, brings flexibility to when, how and where you work! This gives you control over your work, especially if you have places or times of day where you'd prefer to work - for example I work much better in the afternoon and early evening than earlier in the day
  • Diversifying your career might help in times of changes or in difficult times like these! It keeps your options open and builds other skills other than clinical skills that could be useful in other aspects of our professional and even personal lives e.g. how to manage your time, working to deadlines, leadership skills, business skills etc. 

How can YOU get involved?

Here are my top tips if you want to develop a Portfolio Career and get involved in leadership in dentistry (or outside of dentistry!)
  1. Get involved - join organisations, charities, societies. See if there are roles available within these groups that can build your career such as ambassador roles, roles on boards e.g. secretary, student or young dentist representative. Lots of organisations are recognising the need to listen to early careers dentists as we are the FUTURE of the profession and have groups that reflect this e.g. the BDA's student or Young Dentist Committee, the Royal College's Early Careers Ambassador Network, Local Dental Committees
  2. Consider roles which aren't the norm - e.g. non clinical roles such as Fellowships (run by OCDO or HEE), internships at health or dental organisations, NHS leadership academy or Clinical Entrepreneur Programme. Although many don't have clinical aspects of dental care directly as part of the roles, they can be very fulfilling and add to your skills as a dentist
  3. Build those side hustles. This isn't for everyone, but I've been seriously impressed with the number of awesome side hustles that dentists, dental students and dental professionals have developed especially in the pandemic - from social media platforms, to Etsy stores, to consultancy businesses. Even if these are completely unrelated to dentistry, it can be seriously cool and help keep balance in your life. 

I would love to hear about your portfolio careers! Please leave your experiences in the comment box below

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