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Posted by: Dental Design 12th January 2023
A strong professional community is important now more than ever for a dentists’ wellbeing. Community, connection and belonging are defined differently depending on who you ask, but at their core is the notion of being a part of something and having people you can turn to when challenges arise. A sense of community can give you the confidence you need to progress your career, develop your skills and improve the care you deliver to your patients.
A lonesome road?
Dentistry is an intensely rewarding career, and sometimes it is what is most rewarding that comes with the most challenges. It goes without saying that dentistry can be lonesome at times. Many of you will have forged a professional ‘family’ with your colleagues, but due to the nature of the job, you will spend large portions of the day in your surgery room where time to socialise is at a minimum. Humans are social creatures, and feelings of loneliness and detachment can be incredibly demoralising, and has even been associated with depressive symptoms.[i]
In our personal lives, many of us connect with family and friends in varying ways, but at the heart of it is that feeling of belonging. You may be part of a club of some kind, or enjoy days out or going on holiday when you aren’t at work, for instance. Regardless of who, what and where you spend your time, the feeling of belonging is universal. As we spend a lot of our time at work, it is equally important to ensure the role nourishes us and provides us with meaningful connections to get through the working day.
The average UK employee spends around 3,515 days working across their lifetime (which does not take into account overtime, nor the level of work expected from dental professionals) – so, it is unsurprising that how we feel at work can drastically impact our personal lives.[ii] A study[iii] determined that workplace loneliness can lead to a decline in job performance. Another study, focusing specifically on dentists, found that there was a strong sense of isolation and loneliness for those working away from home.[iv] A sense of belonging is a fundamental human need, and this feeling in the workplace is vastly important for workplace satisfaction, productivity and wellbeing.[v] [vi] [vii]
Know where to look
Regardless of whether you are a young dentist or an experienced one with years under your belt, the feeling of belonging is collective and integral to everyone in all walks of life. If you feel as though support and community is lacking in your professional life, you must identify your needs and initiate change. For all of its faults, social media is an incredibly useful tool for staying connected with peers. Many online platforms allow users to create or join forums and groups, where you can interact with colleagues from across the globe. This is also a great way to stay abreast of conversations within the field. But, of course, social media can only provide so much. As digital approaches to staying connected lack physical proximity, you could also consider joining a dental academy.
Staying ahead really is the key to leading a successful career and ensuring that your patients are receiving the best possible care. With a dental academy, you can take advantage of fantastic educational opportunities in addition to connecting with a vast number of professionals from across the country – both virtually and in person. Many organisations will host events, meetings and conferences, which will certainly be worth your while to attend. So not only can you forge long-lasting professional relationships, but also expose yourself to new ideas, helping you to develop your skillset.
A prestigious community
The British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) welcomes a range of dental professionals, of all experience levels, who share a commitment for exceptional dentistry. The organisation provides outstanding training programmes, with mentoring and career support, as well as a recognised BACD Accreditation pathway. With fantastic networking opportunities, and events such as their Annual Conference to attend, you can stay informed and ahead of the curve with ease. ‘Community’ is part of the BACD values, so why not consider joining today?
Dentistry is an indispensable profession, and one that is highly gratifying. However, it can often be all too easy to lose that sense of belonging, a feeling that is integral to our wellbeing and ability to work at our best. By establishing a strong, structured support system, you can truly reap the benefits that this profession has to offer, helping you to distinguish yourself and proudly take your seat at the table.
For further enquiries about the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, visit www.bacd.com
Dr Chris McConnell is a private dentist based in Cornwall with a special interest in advanced dental treatments including implants, sedation, cosmetic and digital dentistry. He has two practices, a General Practice, and a bespoke designed clinic that focuses on the digital workflow in cosmetic and implant dentistry. Chris is the Immediate Past President of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and a Key Opinion Leader with a number of International companies, as well as founder of the REAL Dentist course which teaches Dentists how to maximise efficiencies in practice. He has undertaken the Royal College FGDP Implant Diploma and lectures on dental efficiencies, and advanced implant and cosmetic solutions using digital dentistry to improve your results. He spends his time off with his family and being a waterspouts addict enjoys sailing around the Southwest, surfing and windsurfing.
[i] Cockshaw, W.D., Shochet, I.M. and Obst, P.L. (2012). General Belongingness, Workplace Belongingness, and Depressive Symptoms. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, [online] 23(3), pp.240–251. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/casp.2121[Accessed 26 Aug. 2022].
[ii] Skoulding, L. (2018). How long does the average UK employee spend at work? [online] Accountancy Age. Available at: https://www.accountancyage.com/2018/10/02/how-long-does-the-average-uk-employee-spend-at-work/ [Accessed 26 Aug. 2022].
[iii] Amarat, M., Akbolat, M., Ünal, Ö. and Güneş Karakaya, B. (2018). The mediating role of work alienation in the effect of workplace loneliness on nurses’ performance. Journal of Nursing Management, [online] 27(3), pp.553–559. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jonm.12710 [Accessed 26 Aug. 2022].
[iv] Gallagher, J.E., Colonio-Salazar, F.B. and White, S. (2021c). Supporting dentists’ health and wellbeing – workforce assets under stress: a qualitative study in England. British Dental Journal, [online] pp.1–12. Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41415-021-3130-9 [Accessed 26 Aug. 2022].
[v] Waller, L. (2020). Fostering a Sense of Belonging in the Workplace: Enhancing Well-Being and a Positive and Coherent Sense of Self. The Palgrave Handbook of Workplace Well-Being, [online] pp.1–27. Available at: https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-3-030-02470-3_83-1 [Accessed 26 Aug. 2022].
[vi] Filstad, C., Traavik, L.E.M. and Gorli, M. (2019). Belonging at work: the experiences, representations and meanings of belonging. Journal of Workplace Learning, 31(2), pp.116–142. doi:10.1108/jwl-06-2018-0081. [Accessed 26 Aug. 2022]
[vii] Borrott, N., Day, G.E., Sedgwick, M. and Levett-Jones, T. (2016). Nursing students’ belongingness and workplace satisfaction: Quantitative findings of a mixed methods study. Nurse Education Today, [online] 45, pp.29–34. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0260691716301009 [Accessed 26 Aug. 2022].