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Keeping your course true - Sam Waley Cohen

Keeping your course true  - Sam Waley Cohen

A principal dentist is, in many ways, akin to a captain at the helm of a ship. It is their direction, experience and commitment that keeps a practice on the right course.


But, as captain, there are many different responsibilities that simply cannot be ignored. Compliance, recruitment, administration, discipline and finance: these are just a small selection of the duties that a principal dentist must manage on a daily basis – on top of their busy schedule of treating patients.    

This presents a very real problem for a great many principal dentists. Indeed, one of the most common factors for job dissatisfaction amongst practice owners is actually the stress of running a practice.[1] Even with a practice manager (or first-mate, to continue the maritime analogy) taking some of the strain, there are a multitude of unavoidable day-to-day tasks that are necessary for success.


But most dentists are not businesspeople – and, in all honesty, why should they be? They did not spend years at dental school to become anything but a dentist so it is understandable that some of the extraneous obligations that principals inevitably find themselves dealing with become the reason for professional failings and shortcomings.


And, of course, this can have very serious ramifications for the rest of the dental team. After all, if a ship’s captain has lost their way, what hope is there for the crew? Indeed, it is well documented that a large majority of workplace issues and employment tribunals in dental practices stem from the inability of a principal to treat their staff as business employees.[2]

There is a solution to this. Research has shown that dentists who join with a larger dental group exhibit greater work satisfaction than those who forge ahead alone. The two main benefits that were highlighted were an increase in downtime and the elimination of administrative stress.[3]

In fact, those dentists who joined dental corporates found themselves with more time to concentrate on the things that attracted them to a career in dentistry in the first place: practising dentistry.

Admittedly, dental corporates have acquired a negative reputation in the UK. Some professionals see them as profit-driven conglomerates that are intent on eliminating autonomy and imposing stringent uniformity. But while these unfortunate views persist, they are simply untrue.    

A dental corporate strives for one thing above all others: excellence. Whether that is clinical excellence, or the very highest standards in all other aspects of the dental business. Corporate leaders understand that the best way to promote excellence is to allow people to do the jobs they are best suited for. That is why they are enthusiastic about bringing together experts in all parts of the dental profession – from practitioners to nurses, IT gurus, marketing experts, recruitment leaders and compliance professionals.

By working together, and supporting each other, it becomes far easier to achieve the best. Whether its in matters of compliance, recruitment or discipline, there will always be a network of understanding, like-minded professionals to depend on.

So, joining a dental corporate should not be thought of as surrendering your ship to another captain: it’s far more like joining a fleet – a fleet formed of many individual ships, each with an individual captain, who all share a common direction, who can depend on each other for support and who are administered by a dedicated and experienced Admiralty.

Portman Dental is a dental corporate that truly promotes this idea. With around 30 practices across England, from Sheffield to the Isle of Wight, Portman Dental strives to make each individual practice the best it can be. It does this not by introducing radical changes that force its members to work in a certain way, but by providing the right support, direction and staff to allow for excellence to propagate naturally. Management is maintained on a local level, and supported by a central team of experts and only principals who are truly committed to the idea of cooperation and progression are taken on. 

Don’t allow workplace pressures and dissatisfaction to affect your practice’s success – or your wellbeing. Join a dental corporate and strike the truest course, for you and your team.


For more information about joining the Portman Dental team, please visit or call on 0207 281 9489


[1] – Working for a dental corporate – Is it for you?; published online: 2011; link: [accessed 02/09/15]

[2] British Dental Association (BDA) – Advice and support; link: [accessed 02/09/15]

[3] American Dental Association – Practice setting may determine dentists’ satisfaction; published online: 2015; link: [accessed 02/09/15]



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