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  Posted by: The Probe      10th March 2022

After your many years of studying and training, entering into the dental profession can be exhilarating, and at times overwhelming. Dentistry is vast, with challenges and rewards alike, so making the right choices in the early days will ensure you’re well equipped for a long and lasting career.

All experience is good experience

Experience can only be amassed through time spent working in practice, with other dental professionals, in different environments and through much trial and error. Whilst there are no short cuts to gaining experience, there are ways you can support your development throughout the years. Undertaking additional, CPD-accredited training will help you to hone your clinical and non-clinical skills, giving you the confidence to perform treatments and procedures, as well as expand your capabilities and offer more for your patients.

At this time, dentistry is producing a wealth of new trends, technologies and techniques and by keeping pace with these developments, you’ll be able to develop and enhance skill sets and distinguish yourself amongst colleagues.

Your pride of place

It’s important to assess whether your working environment is right for you at all stages of your career, but especially at the beginning. There are a few things to consider: does the practice provide clinical and non-clinical support, as well as the opportunity for mentoring? Receiving mentorship from an experienced dentist will allow you to develop and reflect upon your skills, whilst gaining valuable insight, feedback and advice. You’ll be able to recognise and set any further career goals, as well as establish healthy professional relationships with your peers.

If there’s a particular specialist area you’d like to move into, such as orthodontics, does the practice offer this treatment? Or, could they provide you a training pathway into this area? It’s important to note whether the practice provides high-quality tools and equipment; whether they employ digital workflows is also important as, due to its growing popularity, being confident with digital technologies and systems will prove invaluable for the future.

Manage your stress

As many experienced dentists will know, dentistry can be a stressful profession. For everyone in the field, getting to grips with the changes that are occurring can be tricky. Plus, simply communicating with patients and other team members can be a cause for stress. Thus, it’s important that younger dentists understand how they can better manage stress and work more proficiently.

A recent study[i] commented on the disparity between the experience levels of older and younger generations, noting that the former is more likely to have built resilience and be able to manage pressure more successfully than the younger generations of dentists. Clinicians are vastly important to the health and wellbeing of the population, so it’s crucial that the relevant steps are taken to ensure you can successfully manage stress and reduce the risk of mental health concerns.

Everyday stressors can be easily dealt with, through simple time management, prioritising urgent jobs and delegating tasks. It can be easy for responsibilities to accumulate, but with efficient and effective team communication, you can delegate certain jobs to certain team members, which will help take the load off of your shoulders. It will also encourage healthy communication between the dental team, potentially encouraging other members to speak up when they feel overwhelmed. Being able to manage your stress is a valuable skill that you can carry throughout your life, so it’s vital that you implement it in the early days of your career.

Other indicators for poor mental health may include time pressures, difficult patients or feelings of confinement. Stress and its subsequent effects on mental health will not only damage a young dentist’s performance at work, but can also be devastating to their personal lives and relationships. Thus, finding ways to manage stress is paramount. You can do this by communicating with peers, working more appropriate hours and giving yourself time for a break during the day. You could also consider learning how to better manage patient anxiety and/or hostility, which would improve your general communicative skills, as well as relationships with your patients.

Accessible, invaluable support

Joining a professional organisation is another way to have access to support and training, and be part of a community of likeminded peers. The British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) provides young dentists who are interested in cosmetic dentistry with the perfect opportunity to flourish within their roles. With access to expertise and mentoring, as well as the chance to achieve accreditation and recognition, there’s a reason the BACD continues to grow and evolve. Alongside exceptional training resources, the BACD is a wonderful place to network and build relationships with other dental professionals.

A career in dentistry can be stimulating, challenging and intensely rewarding. By taking the steps to ensure your career sets off on the right foot, you’re giving yourself the best chance for a long and fulfilling career.

 

For further enquiries about the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry visit www.bacd.com

 

[i] Gallagher, J.E., Colonio-Salazar, F.B. and White, S. (2021). Supporting dentists’ health and wellbeing – workforce assets under stress: a qualitative study in England. British Dental Journal, [online] Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41415-021-3130-9. Accessed 11 Jan. 2022.


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