Foundation Dentists 2016 Article
For obvious reasons, there is always an influx of new dental associates in August / September each year. As few remain in the same practice once Vocational Training (VT) is completed, there is a sudden demand for jobs at this time of year. In order to get ahead of the game, it’s important for VTs to start thinking about job applications as early as April to secure the right place ready for September.
Any issues that occur when seeking this first role usually stem from the fact that newly qualified professionals have little experience in finding a job and are therefore unsure of how to go about selecting appropriate vacancies.
Gained from years of experience in helping young professionals find the ideal first job, here are some golden rules:
Pitch an appropriate number of UDAs
Newly qualified dentists should be looking to pitch at least 5,500 UDAs for a full-time job and up to 6,000 if they feel confident. While some may believe it is safer to commit to less, this can deter potential employers who might be concerned about fulfilling their practice targets. That said, should any new dentists not reach the 6,000 goal in their first year of employment, most principals will understand the limitations of being newly qualified and this is not usually a problem.
Choose a practice with experienced associates willing to teach
As is important when commencing a career in any profession, an individual needs the opportunity to continue developing their knowledge and skills in the working environment. Joining a practice with several existing associates can be very useful for newly qualified dentists as there is a network of experienced professionals to share experience, offer advice and provide support. As such, it is always a good idea to focus on practices with at least three – four surgeries, so there is a greater variety of expertise on which to draw. It is also helpful to find out the age of existing associates and how long they have been with the practice.
Once through to the interview stage – which is an article in its own right – meeting the existing staff is definitely an advantage if the opportunity arises. Asking if any others had joined the practice straight after their VT year and discussing their experiences will prove very insightful and comforting.
Despite any negative connotations surrounding the dental groups and corporates, these are also great places to work for those laying the foundations for their dental career and should not be automatically avoided. There is often more support and greater professional networks available to help individuals flourish and indeed they have become very popular destinations for many newly qualified dentists in the past year. What’s more, the groups sometimes have the ability to reduce UDA contracts for certain practices, so there might be less pressure to commit to higher targets.
Learn to walk before you run
The modern dental practice environment can be a weird and wonderful place, with lots of practicalities to learn in addition to delivering excellent clinical care and treatment. Even if ambitions to specialise in specific disciplines exist already, it’s important for newly qualified dentists to learn to walk before they try to run. As such, it’s crucial to remain in a general practice for a couple of years and not look to join a specialist practice so soon. Expressing too strong a desire to move into a specialist area during interviews can also put off potential employers. For example, if applying to be a general dentist in a general practice, strongly voicing your wish to specialise can go against you as principals might expect you undergo training and then leave in seek of a specialist role elsewhere.
Location and money often go hand in hand, so it’s important to be flexible if seeking the best deal. Perhaps unexpectedly for some, salaries from roles in rural locations can be a lot higher than similar positions in or near the cities. This is due to a higher volume of dentists in the cities, which drives down demand and gives principals more choice. It can therefore be beneficial to get all the facts and consider all possible options.
Time to act
Whatever your career aspirations or current position, it is essential to act now to secure the right job for you in September. Even if you’re thinking of taking a couple of months off before seeking permanent employment, the influx of dentists to the profession in September can make finding a role much more difficult if left until December. By signing up with an effective agency such as Dental Elite, you’ll have peace of mind that they are searching in all the right places, at the right times, for your ideal job.
More advice about this is available from me at the BDA – Manchester 26th-28th May 2016 – Come visit me at the career advice zone Thursday/Friday 11:00-14:00 and Saturday 10:00-13:00