Sifting through job listings in search of your dream dental job can be a daunting task. The demand for dental jobs in the United Kingdom is constantly fluctuating and further changing in light of NHS budget and Brexit around the corner. It is a good idea to be able to gain further knowledge about what is important for you as a dentist in England, especially if you have not worked in the UK previously. Discover the top five things to avoid before you sign your next associate agreement.
1. Low fee split/UDA rate - The fee split in your agreement shows how much you will be paid for private dentistry. It usually is 50% of the treatment fee. Many companies are trying to reduce this to 45%, or even 40%. Avoid agreeing to work for an uneven, low fee split. Think good whether such a dramatic decrease in your pay is actually worth the risks of being a dentist. Corporate dental providers are paid certain amount of money by the Government for each UDA (Unit of Dental Activity) they deliver. For example, the Government may be paying £25 per UDA. Good companies pay the dentist 50% of that value (in this case £12.5), whereas others pay £10 for each UDA that you deliver. £10 per UDA is 40% (or less) of the original UDA value. Avoid low UDA rates (unless it doesn't matter to you). It is worth negotiating the UDA value prior to signing an associate agreement. There are many companies which still pay 50% of that original UDA value. It is important that you are remunerated fairly.
2. Small holiday allowance - Everyone needs a break from time to time and being a dentist is no exception. Seeing many patients a day can be exhausting not only physically, but mentally, too. Therefore, preventing burnout from the daily grind in dentistry is of paramount importance. You need to find out exactly how many days of holiday you are being offered, excluding bank holidays. This is usually 30 days. Some corporates give you 30 days but want you to work one Saturday per month, which equals to 12 Saturdays per calendar year. This is the same as having 20 days of holiday - avoid such offers. Dentists in England are self-employed therefore you can decide when you want to have time off. Of course, the providing company will have their own ways of making sure that you stay at work. Some companies enforce the use of a "Holiday Request Form" which the dentist needs to fill out and send for approval. This makes it a hassle to request time off because you feel like there is someone who decides on your behalf. Find out what the company's holiday policy is.
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3. Unfair deductions - Every now and then you will have to refund treatment fees to the patient. Good dental practices will split the refund with you (50%/50%). Avoid dental companies which take the full refund fee from your salary. Ask about the refund policy at the job interview and make sure it's a fair one. The same is valid for patient debt when a patient has not paid for their treatment for a long time.
4. High staff turnover - Delivering good dentistry is a team effort. Avoid working for practices which have high staff turnover, meaning that dentists, nurses or other staff change frequently. A good dental practice retains its dentists, nurses and reception staff for a long time. If the practice is involved in training nurses then it is likely that staff turnover is high because not every trainee commits long-term.
5. Long notice period - The notice period determines how many months you have to continue working before you actually leave the job. As an industry standard, the notice period is three (3) months. It means that if you decide to quit the job on the 1st January, you will have to work until 1st April. Avoid jobs with long notice period, such as 4 or 6 months. Always try to negotiate your notice period around the fact that the length of 3 months is an industry standard.
In conclusion, every dentist has invested a lot of time, money, effort and dedication to be able to help people with their dental problems. Therefore, every dentist deserves not only a fair return of investments but should actively seek job opportunities which allow for such returns.