Surveys Highlight The Profound Effect COVID Had On Dentists

Surveys Highlight The Profound Effect COVID Had On Dentists

Three in four dentists (75%) in the early stages of their careers say the COVID-19 pandemic has had a ‘significant and negative impact on their dental training.’

A snapshot survey of early career dentists by Dental Protection also found that 70% of respondents felt that the pandemic had impacted on their plans for their careers.

The survey of dentists who had been qualified for less than five years, found that nearly a third, (31%) say the reality of general practice is not in line with their expectations.

Meanwhile, 39% felt that the Covid-19 pandemic has created uncertain career options and choices for the future.

Perhaps more startlingly, 34% of the dentists surveyed say they are exploring career opportunities outside of dentistry.

George Wright is Deputy Dental Director at Dental Protection.

Mr Wright said “A career in dentistry can be immensely rewarding. However, Covid-19 has created many challenges for established and newer entrants to the profession alike and the impact on young dentists is particularly alarming.”

“The future of the profession relies on the strong foundations of early years training including an assessment of career opportunities and development. It is concerning that many newer entrants say they have experienced a severe and negative impact on their training due to the pandemic.”

“Additionally, after almost two years of restrictions impacting the delivery of routine dental care, and a growing backlog necessitating the rising need for emergency appointments, the longstanding goodwill and understanding of the public towards NHS dentistry is fraying. This means many early career dentists have experienced a challenging environment, dominated by clearing the backlog. This is of course quite different to what many will have expected.”

One survey respondent said “I was lucky with my training in that the university got us back to clinical practice quickly. There is a backlog of patients in practice, and I’m concerned their neglected dentition will cause them to complain in the future as some things may have been prevented.”

Another dentist said “Starting work in practice after leaving dental school has taught me how little dental school prepares you for the realities of work.”

“The pandemic actually helped my career as I could only find private practice associate jobs, this then opened other doors for me,” another dentist added.

BDA’s Welsh Survey

Meanwhile, a survey by the British Dental Association has  revealed that almost half of Welsh dentists have found the last six months extremely stressful, with many facing complete burnout.

The BDA News website said  “A huge 83.1% of respondents reported going to work, despite not feeling mentally well enough.

“Worryingly, almost half had done so for more than 10 days.”

The BDA said that in 2021 “NHS working conditions caused a further decline in dentists’ mental health.”

The survey found that 92% of dentists working in Wales were unable to take proper breaks during their working day and nearly two thirds (64%) of dentists “reported their sleep to be bad or very bad.”

The BDA found that 98% of dentists experienced an increase in stress due to the increase in administrative tasks and in 2021, more than 80% of dentists went to well feeling mentally unwell.

Worryingly 71% of dentists in Wales are considering their career options – many outside dentistry, while nearly two thirds are considering early retirement.

Over 80% of dentists, the survey found, are planning to reduce the hours they work in the NHS, in the next three years.

In a meeting, the BDA said it has now presented the results of the survey to the Welsh Dental Committee and the Welsh Chief Dental Officer, Dr Andrew Dickenson.

BDA News said that in the meeting the BDA made recommendations including addressing  the rise in administrative tasks that are causing an increase in stress and preventing breaks.

The BDA also said it made a recommendation to  “Ensure that Canopi (formerly Health for Health Professionals) continues to support dentists” and also “Consider how to increase the attractiveness and viability of NHS dentistry in Wales.”

BDA News said “While this survey from October is concerning, the recent contract reform survey results were even more stark.”

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