GDC Publish Further Research - Younger Professionals’ Viewpoints

GDC Publish Further Research - Younger Professionals’ Viewpoints

The GDC spend a good deal of time and registrants money on research and surveys. Some, such as the recent workforce activity surveys of dentists, and now DCP‘s, may seem to be outside their remit.  Other efforts are closer to their core operations. The latest survey and analysis, sought to see what recent registrants thought of their regulator.

Entitled, “Understanding and evaluating early career dental professionals’ experiences of the General Dental Council” it sought to conduct a, “comprehensive research study to understand the experiences, perceptions, and attitudes of early career dental professionals towards their regulatory body, the General Dental Council.” Early Career Professionals are defined as those with up to 5 years on the register.

The survey was carried out by SQW, and involved 1479 professionals who were asked about their perception, knowledge and attitudes to the GDC, as well their preparedness for practice, and the impact of Covid -19.

Key findings included:

74% of early career dental professionals hold either a positive (44%) or neutral (30%) perception of the GDC.

Perceptions vary between dental professions, with most dental nurses holding positive views of the GDC and most dentists holding negative views.

Dentists hold the highest negative perceptions, with 52% of respondents expressing unfavourable views, significantly more than any other group.

The 129 page report will have cost a considerable amount. Nor is this the first report commissioned by the GDC into how it is seen by registrants. A previous survey reported on in 2021 showed that negative perceptions of the GDC had actually risen from 45% in 2018, to 58% in 2020, across registrants of all ages. It also showed that over time, the number of respondents who felt that the GDC was getting worse, was increasing. The finding that “students were more likely than dental professionals to associate positive words with the GDC”, implied that the more dental teams came into contact with the GDC, the lower their opinion of the regulator.

This state of affairs does not seem to have improved with the latest report observing:  “On the latter, survey findings suggest that there is a statistically significant correlation between the length of time registered with the GDC and perception of the GDC, where the longer an individual is registered with the GDC, the more negative their perception becomes.”

Regarding training, there were once again differences amongst the registrant groups. A substantial majority (86%) of early career dental professionals said they felt well-prepared for professional practice when first joining the GDC register, many attributing their readiness to comprehensive education and training. The highest percentages of dental professionals feeling well-prepared for practice upon initial registration were dental nurses (92%), dental therapists (87%) and dental hygienists (86%). The percentage of dentists feeling the same was the lowest at 74%.

It was Socrates that said, “I only know that I know nothing”. The updated version of this, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” may shed light on the differing opinions held of the GDC, not just by the various categories of dental professionals, but also those at different stages of their careers. It may also explain the different opinions on their training. Beyond that it may help to account for both the GDC and NHS’s enthusiasm for groups of professionals that they perceive as more malleable.

Understanding and evaluating early career dental professionals’ experiences of the General Dental Council.

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