So you’ve put in several years of tough graft, endured gruelling practical examinations, and slogged through plenty of nights burning the midnight oil, cramming your brain with facts about biology and dentistry.
Now the journey is seemingly over, and you’re qualified – congratulations! You’re ready to step into the world of professional dentistry.
However, there are several pitfalls that freshly qualified dental professionals are prone to succumbing to.
Read on,young graduate, on and give yourself the best chance of getting your dental career off to a flying start.
First Things First – Make Sure You Are Registered!
It sounds like a real “D’oh!” moment – but you’d be surprised to hear how many young dental professionals actually forget to register with the General Dental Council.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of qualification and the challenge of the ensuing job search. Or maybe you remember it the first time, but perhaps forget a year down the line when you’re settled into your career.
As soon as you realise, you’ll need to cease all practice and contact the General Dental Council in order to register.
Practicing unregistered is a serious problem – at the start of your career, you might be forgiven for letting it slip your mind, but then again, it might also have severe consequences – it depends on the mood of the person who reads your application when it (finally) arrives. Be prepared to answer up to why you’ve been practicing as an unregistered dentist.
Or better yet, avoid all the hassle and just remember to register!
Secure Indemnity Against Clinical Negligence
Of course, you absolutely do not intend to be negligent in your career.
But on the off chance that things do turn sour with a patient, you need to be protected. There are two things to take care of here. Firstly, you need dental defence organisation membership, which ensures that you have access to legal advice should a patient make a claim against you.
The second thing to take care of is professional indemnity insurance: either get your own or get covered under your employer’s.
Stay Within Your Scope of Expertise
A lot of things change once you become qualified and start working away in a professional practice.
One thing you’ll notice is that there’s much less supervision than there was on your course. This is of course important, as it allows you to make decisions and build the skills of an independent dentist – but sometimes, there can be a temptation to get carried away.
It’s important to remember your abilities and only attempt procedures that you’re truly ready for. If you overreach yourself and make a serious error, it’s not just your career on the line, it’s the health and well-being of your patient.
Don’t be afraid to turn to senior colleagues when you encounter a treatment situation outside your comfort zone. Consulting them is exactly what you should do, and you’ll undoubtedly grow as a dentist from the experience.
Realise That You’re a Professional Now, And Act Accordingly
Remember, you’re a practicing dental worker now – no longer a student. As an upstanding member of the medical community, you’re now required to act as such – and that means conducting yourself properly, even when you’re not in your white coat.
In short, the days of student antics (stolen traffic cones anyone?) should be left well behind.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun – far from it. But what it does mean is that if you do find yourself in a spot of bother, it’s far more likely to negatively impact your career. The General Dental Council requires that its registrants maintain “appropriate standards of professional behaviour”, and that extends to their personal life as well as their professional working hours.
Should you be convicted of an offence, even if entirely unrelated to your practice, you’ll need to contact the GDC as soon as possible so they can investigate it. They don’t look kindly on bad behaviour, and although one mistake might not kill your career, it certainly won’t help it.
Stay mindful of these and you should have a smooth transition from studying to practice, and you’ll set yourself up for an enjoyable and rewarding first few years as a professional dentist. Of course, if you’re still looking for that first job, we’re happy to help – get yourself signed up on the Dental Gateway and get access to top employers in your area.