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Hello again! In this article we are going to look at various aspects when you ask yourself -- which is the right dental practice to work in UK. There are a few points to consider when trying to figure out which dental practice is good for you. Hopefully, this guide will show you how to find the best dental practice that suits your professional dental and lifestyle needs. We are going to look at the importance of your qualifications, marital status, lifestyle and long-term goals. On the other hand, we will tackle the properties of your chosen dental practice - location, configuration, patient base, working hours, pay rate and staff.

How To Find The Right Dental Practice To Work In UK

Personal aspect

This relates to how you as a dentist fit in the picture of the dental practice, especially if you plan to stay there long-term.

  • Qualification(s) - If you have strong general dentistry skills then you could work in almost any dental practice in UK, be it NHS, private or mixed. However, if you have specialist skills then you need to carefully consider which practice to choose. For example, if you have interest in restorative dentistry with implants but the practice is mainly NHS then you may have to rely on other dentists to refer suitable patients to you. This means you will only visit the practice once or twice a week. Also, it helps if the practice is in an area with higher average age of the population. You could work there as a general dentist and do some implant work. Most people, who have some sort of special interest, try to maximise their potential with their best skills meaning they would prefer to work as part-time restorative dentists in different practices delivering speciality dentistry. If you are an orthodontist in the NHS then perfect area will be one which has high birth rate, low average age of the population in a more family-oriented region (usually from 30 to 60 minutes journey to the city).
  • Marital status - If you are single, NHS dentist and you are not too concerned about where exactly you want to practice, you can choose a remote location where you will be well paid for your general dentistry skills. If you already have a performer number you could easily work as a locum dentist in Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Cumbria -- you may be paid day rate and excluded from paying laboratory bills, which is even better. If you have a family and kids, however, you may prefer to live in an area with good transport links and airports, schools with good reputation and so on. Again, it will depend more on less on your qualification and long-term goals.
  • Lifestyle - Some dentists like the outdoors, some don't. Some like to visit cultural sites and events, others don't. If you want to stay up-to-date with the cultural buzz in various forms of arts then you probably prefer to live near a city and the dental practice is not too far from you. If your hobbies are fishing, picnicing, mountain climbing etc. then you need to chose a dental practice in an area which will also cater to your hobbies.
  • Long-term goals - If you have plans to expand your skillset maybe you need to live and work close to a University where you can gain further qualifications in your chosen field. If you have plans to purchase a dental practice in UK then you may prefer to start saving up for this and work in an area where your lifestyle will not cost you too much and distract you from your goals. If you are single, you may prefer to work long hours and even Saturdays.

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Dental practice aspect

  • Location - This is more important than you think. Two dental practices can be less than 10 miles away from one another and have patients with totally different dental health needs. You need to find out what the average age of the population in the area is as this will define what kind of dentistry you will be practising. You can read more about which is the best area to work as a dentist in the UK, where we also discuss demographics, economics of the area and more.
  • Configuration - This relates to how big the practice is, how many surgeries it has, does it have a proper staff room etc. Practices with less than 3 surgeries can be a problem for associates as it may not be very easy for you to go on holiday if there is no replacement dentist while you are away.
  • Patient base - Usually dental practices in the UK are mixed - they treat both NHS and private patients. You will need good communication and dentistry skills to be able to serve both patient types as they will demand different treatment. Some practices are only NHS (having very little private potential) while others may be purely private. You will need a more extensive skill set in a private practice as you must be confident you can deliver the treatment required, usually involving a lot of cosmetic and restorative treatment with dental implants.
  • Working hours - These can be very important if you have a family, hobbies or generally want to work part-time. Dental practices in busy city areas usually have extended working hours starting from 8am sometimes until 8pm as these appointment times are very sought after. There you may be asked to work on Saturday. Make sure this is right for you. Also, make sure there is an adequate lunch break or small breaks. Town practices can have 9-5 working hours with 1 hour lunch break which is a good amount of time for the staff to prepare for the afternoon treatment sessions. You need to decide how many hours per week you are prepared to work based on your long-term goals in dentistry which we described above. If you work Saturdays make sure you have an adequate annual leave as these amount to extra 12 days per year. Annual leave of 25-30 days is most desired by associate dentists in UK. However, you may be offered less (20 days) or more (45 days). Again, make sure you are happy with the area where you live. Everyone needs to go on holiday but if you have relatives abroad then you may need more time off. Lastly, make sure you are happy with the notice period. Usually, it is three (3) months.
  • Pay rate - Find out how much you are paid per UDA if you work in a mixed dental practice. For private income, find out what the commission is and choose the best for you. Make sure the lab bill split is also fair. If you work as a locum dentist, however, you may not have any laboratory bills to pay, which is always an advantage.
  • Staff - Everyone likes to work with reliable staff which have been adequately trained to deliver whatever dentistry is required - NHS or private. Check what the "staff traffic" is, meaning, are staff coming and leaving frequently or they have been with the practice for many years. Check who is the longest present member of staff and how long they have been with the practice. Also, check if there are any trainees during your clinical sessions. If you are not prepared to train staff then you need to reflect this in your associate agreement and request trained staff only, especially if you are delivering specialist treatment.

These are the main points to consider when choosing the best dental practice to work for in UK.

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See you soon!

–The Dental Radar Team

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