Christine Gordon is a young associate dentist at Putney Bridge Dental Centre in London, a MyDentist practice which is a member of the Association of Dental Groups (ADG). Since graduating from The University of Sheffield in 2012, she has worked in both an independent and now a corporate practice. Here, she discusses her career so far and how the move into corporate dentistry has impacted on her working life…
“I completed my foundation training at an independently-run practice, which I very much enjoyed. It was in North London, with three surgeries. After finishing my foundation training I took a maternity cover position within a corporate; and have since been lucky to secure a full-time position when another associate left. I've been working at my current practice for almost two years now.
“Working in an independent practice was a little different to where I work now. Firstly, I would say the principal had more control over the associates in terms of materials and their hours. I now have increased flexibility regarding both how I work and the products I work with. For example, I can put in a request for the materials I would like to order and, within reason, these are usually authorised so that I can use the materials I prefer.
“For me, one of the main benefits of a corporate is knowing that all the relevant protocols such as health and safety and cross infection control will be followed to a high standard across the board. We have a CQC inspection coming up and I am not concerned about it in the slightest. I can simply get on with my job with total peace of mind and no last-minute panic that the practice won't pass and will need to implement any big changes!
“Also, when I finished the initial maternity cover with the corporate, there was about a month before my full-time role began and I was worried about having no Units of Dental Activity (UDAs) to do during that period. But then I was told about a nearby practice in the group that I would be able to work with in the meantime. Once you begin working within a corporate, it is easier to pick up more work and opportunities at different locations, should you wish to – which is great.
“At my current practice there is good private potential. I have taken the Inman Aligner course so I can provide simple orthodontic treatment to patients, which has been quite popular. I'm also now offering anti-wrinkle treatments (using Botulinum Toxin) which I'm really enjoying - it helps to keep things interesting. I have a private target every month, separate to my UDA target, so I try to zone my diary to allocate time methodically and ensure I meet both targets.
“In terms of my typical day, it doesn't differ too much from life in an independent practice. I start at 9am, but try to get in early to review my diary and check any lab work. I took on a list from a dentist who had been there for 15 years, which was a challenge initially as patients were so familiar with her but I think they're used to me now. I see a lot of new patients now too, mostly young professionals, which reflects the area the practice is in; with lots of flats and new builds. My other daily responsibilities are essentially the same as an independent dentist: working closely with other members of the team to make the patient journey as pleasant as possible and record keeping is very important so I spend time making sure this is accurate. The MyDentist special app reminds me whose notes I still write and this is so helpful, especially when I'm very busy.
“There is a great, friendly atmosphere within my practice – I certainly don’t feel like there is someone miles away, controlling everything, which I think certainly used to be a common misconception regarding dental corporates. I appreciate the clinical support too. We have a Clinical Director and if I have any problems I can just fire off an email and he will help in any way he can. I feel I have access to a lot of people who will help me to develop my career and because I am just three years out of university, this is really important to me. There is obviously a degree of personal preference here, but the strong support network I have found within the dental corporate makes going out into the big, bad world of work a lot less scary for young dentists.”
To find out more about the world of ADG please visit http://www.dentalgroups.co.uk