Following our first Annual Members’ Meeting on 11 March 2022, Chair of Trustees, Janet Clarke MBE FCGDent, shares the meeting highlights, including upcoming developments in membership and further exciting plans for the future.  

A new organisation will have many firsts – the first chief executive or the first mention in print for example, and the College of General Dentistry chalked up another first on Friday 11 March 2022 – the first Annual Members’ Meeting.

As we are in “just post-unprecedented” times, the meeting was held virtually, with members dialling in from around the UK. Online meetings have many faults, you miss the atmosphere and buzz, and the opportunity for a drink and a gossip afterwards. But a huge advantage of virtual meetings is that many people can attend without taking too much time away from their working day or their evening relaxation. This was the case with the Members’ meeting, which lasted almost exactly an hour and included plenty of time for questions. Attendees avoided the hazards, time and cost of travel and the College bank account avoided the expense of hiring a venue and associated costs. So, win-win perhaps? We would welcome your views on this, as on any other issue touched on in this blog.

So, what did we cover during that hour?

Simon Thornton-Wood, CGDent Chief Executive, chaired the meeting and welcomed members, encouraging them to ask questions either using the online chat function or by the old-fashioned method of raising their virtual hands. He introduced me, as Chair of the Board of Trustees and Abhi Pal as President of the College.

I took control of the slides (always a dangerous moment, I do like to be in control!) and started my presentation by looking back at the transfer of FGDP(UK) from the Royal College of Surgeons to our new College in the summer of 2021, and its establishment as an active College. Members might not have realised that the College has only three permanent, full-time employees and so operates very much as a start-up, where agility and flexibility are key strengths. The College is not just the old FGDP with a new title, it is a fundamentally different organisation, which is building on the many strengths of FGDP to support the whole range of dental registrants across the whole of the UK and Northern Ireland.

I discussed the role of the Board of Trustees, who are a mixture of registrants and lay members, in supporting the CEO to run the organisation, setting priorities (very important with such a small team) and ensuring financial viability. Much of our work has been around setting up the new body, focussing on the initiatives that will help build membership by providing the services and support that dental registrants need and deserve.

I shared photos of our soft launch in July 2021, noting the small number of key CGDent officials present at the event in order to support social distancing and then the formal launch in October 2021, which was a much more social occasion.

Abhi then took over and shared information about the new Council which he chairs as College President. He noted that it now includes a wider range of members, representing most registrant groups, and stressed the breadth of discussion that this facilitates. More socially-distanced photos were shown, but Abhi was delighted to note that the Council is now meeting face-to-face and is also meeting outside London, to emphasise his commitment to the pan-UK nature of the College. Meetings have been held in Birmingham and will be held in Cardiff and Glasgow during 2022.

He shared his enthusiasm for the new initiatives that he, together with Council, is taking forward this year. These included the work on the Career Pathways for all registrants, which has been led by working groups from each registrant group and is being prepared to launch in the summer. Questioned about the timing and the fact that the career pathway is hotly anticipated, he explained that a lot of work was going on behind the scenes to get it right and make it work smoothly, so that once launched it would be fit for purpose.

He went on to the describe the proposed Certified Membership scheme and the benefits that being a Certified Member would bring. Certified membership signifies a member’s commitment to continual development and includes working with a College facilitator, who will provide support and aid reflection. There was a lot of interest in the scheme from attendees and several questions about the role of facilitator and who could apply to become one. Questioning and comments drew out the fact that the important aspect is the skills of the facilitator rather than their registrant group, and Abhi asked those who might be interested in supporting the College and their professional colleagues to get in touch with him. Several keen members volunteered on the night!

We’ll publish more details about the new Certified Membership scheme, and how it can support your career, very soon.

Abhi also covered the work he has led to produce clear criteria and a roadmap to College Fellowship. This will open up Fellowship to more registrants who fulfil the criteria and this initiative is going live now.

Finally, Abhi reviewed the existing benefits for CGDent members including our highly-rated Journal, Primary Dental Journal, and the suite of exclusive and linked webinars produced with our partner ProDental CPD. He explained that the seminal set of Standards & Guidance that had been a hallmark of FGDP would continue to be available to all online, and the College is developing exclusive content on implementation and use of the standards in practice, which will be available for members only.

He finished by highlighting another first – the first International Conference for the whole dental team in partnership with Quintessence Publishing, which will take place 24–25 March 2023 in London – a date for your diary.

All in all, this was an exciting run through of the work the College has been doing and comments by email afterwards from members showed how welcome this was.

I concluded the meeting by thanking members for their time and their enthusiasm. I asked them, as I ask you now, to talk about the College to colleagues and encourage them to join up. It is a cliché I know, but together we really are stronger.

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