Practice ownership: an introduction – 20 January 2022

Thursday 20 January 2022, 7pm, live webinar

Organised in collaboration with The British Dental Students’ Association (BDSA), this webinar is for any dental professional, including students, who wishes to understand what owning a practice entails, the joys of “being your own boss”, how to prepare for practice ownership, and the pitfalls.

Owning a practice provides huge opportunities for working independently, building up an enterprise, and practising in a way that suits the individual. However it comes with significant responsibilities.

The topics we will explore include how practice ownership fits into a GDP career pathway, different models of practice ownership and we’ll suggest preparations you can make before embarking on this route.

Chair:

Dr Abhi Pal, President CGDent

Speaker:

Dr Raj Rattan MBE, Director, Dental Protection

To register for this event, please visit: https://www.prodentalcpd.com/webinars/p119-practice-ownership—an-introduction

This webinar is part of the partnership between the College of General Dentistry (CGDent) and ProDental CPD.

It will be free to view live for all members of the dental professions. CGDent members and ProDental subscribers can claim CPD hours for free and have access to the recording after the event.  A £20 fee will apply for non-members/non-subscribers who wish to claim CPD.

Membership of the College of General Dentistry is open to all registered dental professionals. Membership for dentists is available from £94, and for other registered dental professionals from £33. The full list of CGDent membership rates is at https://cgdent.uk/membership-fees/

You may be interested in our recent webinar How to get the best from your career in dentistry, which explored a range of career pathways open to dental professionals and discussed how the College’s Career Pathways can support your career.

Share:

Avijit Banerjee and Shamir Mehta to lead CGDent career pathways programme

Professor Avijit Banerjee and Dr Shamir Mehta have been appointed to key positions leading the College of General Dentistry’s career pathways programme.


Professor Avijit Banerjee (l), Chair of the CGDent Career Pathways Programme Board, and Dr Shamir Mehta (r), Chair of the CGDent Career Pathways Reference Group

Professor Banerjee is Professor of Cariology & Operative Dentistry and Clinical Lead in Restorative Dentistry at King’s College London, and has been appointed Chair of the Career Pathways Programme Board, which also includes the College’s Vice President, Roshni Karia, and CEO Simon Thornton-Wood.

Dr Mehta is a partner in two dental practices in Harrow, Senior Clinical Teacher at King’s College London and Senior Clinical Advisor to the General Dental Council, and has been appointed Chair of the Career Pathways Reference Group, which provides advice and guidance and also includes Andrew Dickinson, Sharon Hill, Andrea Johnson, Kirstie Moons, Fiona Sandom and Bill Sharpling.

The career pathways programme, which is supported by Colgate, is building structures to provide purpose and direction for careers across the oral health team, to enhance professional standing, and to help retain and nurture a motivated workforce in dentistry.

Career pathways with clear progressive steps are being mapped for each dental team role, underpinned by a professional framework which describes the breadth of capabilities of practitioners at each stage of their career.

These are being developed, together with the programme board and reference group, by four working groups reflecting the key roles in general dentistry:

Dentist Group

  • Phil Dawson (Chair)
  • Sefa Ahiaku
  • Bilal Arshad
  • Ian Dunn
  • James Hamilton
  • Nyree Whitley

Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy Group

  • Emma Pacey (Chair)
  • Leon Bassi
  • Liam Ferguson
  • Shaun Howe
  • Sarah Murray
  • Kath Reynolds
  • Frances Robinson
  • Miranda Steeples
  • Kirstie Thwaites

Dental Nursing and Orthodontic Therapy Group

  • Debbie Reed (Chair)
  • Ken Binnah
  • Jane Dalgarno
  • Amanda Knight
  • Sharon Morrow
  • Marie Parker
  • Tracey Rodgers
  • Tracey Taylor
  • Tracey Young

Dental Technology and Clinical Dental Technology Group

  • Michael Brindle (Co-Chair)
  • Darren Ware (Co-Chair)
  • Stephan Avetoom
  • Mark Gilbert
  • Mark Maley
  • Steven Martin
  • James Neilson
  • Caroline Persaud
  • Stephen Wears

Further announcements are expected in the first half of 2022, and more information about the programme is available at: https://cgdent.uk/career-pathways/.

Sign up to our monthly newsletter

Experience working in different care settings boosts confidence

Dr Harriet Jones reflects on how a varied early career in secondary and tertiary care settings has given her increased confidence in her work as a primary care dentist.

Having graduated from Newcastle in 2016 I carried out Foundation training in a small mixed private and NHS practice. Following this I worked as a Dental Core Trainee in the speciality of Oral and Maxillofacial surgery. I am now currently working part time as a Community Dental Officer and also in NHS practice.

I think gaining an experience in a wide range of areas of dentistry is essential. Having a dental degree opens up so many avenues and the number of career options available is vast. The start to my career has allowed me to experience dentistry in different settings and see a small section of the scope of dentistry.

Gaining experience working in secondary and tertiary care settings has given me increased confidence working in primary care. Working within practice it is inevitable that referrals will need to be made. Having experience working at the receiving end of referrals has increased my ability to refer appropriately. For example, Oral and Maxillofacial referrals can be sent with different grades of urgency and I feel I have an increased ability to understand the appropriate referral to make when I see a patient in general practice.

Working within different settings has also given me the opportunity to work with a variety of dental colleagues who have different interests and specialities. These links have enabled me to organise teaching events for general dental practitioners to maximise learning opportunities. Interacting with colleagues from a variety of specialities allows you to keep up to date with dental advances which is essential in the dental world. Overall, I think this has had a beneficial effect on my ability to treat patients with varying needs. 

It is important when working in practice not to become isolated. I work in a large mixed NHS and private practice with a close group of dentists in a supportive environment. This allows us to comfortably discuss cases and gain advice where needed. On graduating and completing foundation training I still feel the need to gain a second opinion often and working within a supportive environment allows you to do this. I am the Secretary of our regional FGDP(UK) team which involves organising CPD events for dentists within our area. This allows me to meet local dentists and also with our speakers who work within different specialities. Attending Local Dental Committee meetings is also an excellent way to network with local dentists and have a voice regarding important matters and issues as part of a committee of dentists.

Dentistry is a very exciting career with so many possible avenues to take. I think it is important to embrace new opportunities and interact with dental colleagues in order to improve skills and maximise job satisfaction.

Author bio

I qualified from Newcastle in 2016 and gained my MJDF in 2018. I completed my Foundation training in general practice and then went on to work as a Dental Core Trainee in the speciality of Oral and Maxillofacial surgery. I now work in an NHS practice and am a part time Community Dental Officer

This student advice blog was originally published by FGDP(UK) in March 2019 and has been republished by the College of General Dentistry with the author’s permission.

Where will your career take you?

Dr Sahar-Tara Aghababaie, part time Dental Associate in North West London, recommends making a clear career plan to help you steer your career in the right direction.

Whilst you’re currently in dental school, how much thought do you give to your career development 5, 10 or even 20 years after graduation? Any plans you may have will certainly need to be flexible enough to reflect the changes the profession will undoubtedly go through over the coming decades. 

I graduated from King’s College in 2015 but soon discovered that once you graduate, the learning never really stops. And that’s the wonderful thing about dentistry – it’s definitely not a ‘one size fits all’ career path. The profession is constantly evolving and developing, and as a clinician you will need to ensure you have a good grasp of these changes – not just for your own personal development, but also to ensure you provide the best quality of care for your patients. 

During my dental foundation year I completed my MJDF exam and then undertook further post-graduate training on a one-year course in Dental Education, as I have a keen interesting in teaching in the future. So, I would say to any dental student – post-graduate training is paramount!

Many young dentists agree the main challenge facing them is working within the current NHS system. Dental school certainly helps prepare you for practice, building the core clinical skills needed to be a dentist, but it doesn’t really prepare you for the minefield of UDA targets, associate contracts, accounts and finances, the ever present fear of litigation and of course, rising indemnity and registration fees. All of these can place a lot of pressure on newly qualified dentists and might cause some to lose the drive and motivation to further their careers. 

Through every stage of my professional journey, I have been fortunate enough to have key people to support me along the way. In addition to my strong family unit, key clinical tutors at dental school gave me a solid clinical foundation, my principal in general practice who has been guiding me through the challenges of managing a dental practice, and most recently the consultants I work with currently, who are providing new insight and guidance on further specialisms in Dentistry. They, along with my mentors, have supported both my clinical and professional development – which is paramount for any dentist, whatever stage they are in their careers. 

In 2017 I passed my MJDF exams and became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and Faculty of General Dental Practice. But as the saying goes, ‘it’s who you know, not what you know’, and the same can be true in Dentistry. Becoming a member of FGDP(UK) offered the opportunity to network within the profession, which has allowed me to meet fellow dentists, seek advice from more experienced clinicians and get more involved generally. 

Networking and social media are an increasingly invaluable way to keep up to date with advances in the profession. There are lots of dental groups where dentists can discuss different cases with peers, and can prove an invaluable learning forum for young dentists looking to increase their knowledge – And not just clinical knowledge; I’ve learnt about the implications of new regulations, such as GDPR. So, once you start working in practice and you have a question about managing certain cases, or want advice on courses to take, you might find these groups can offer a different perspective and support. 

The wonderful thing about dentistry as a career is that you can make it whatever you want it to be. I thoroughly enjoy working within a multi-disciplinary team and different clinical environments. During the working week I’m mainly based at the dental hospital, where I’ve been able to conduct dental treatments under general anesthesia. At the weekends I work in general practice as an associate. It’s really been this variety that has given me an insight into different specialties and working environments plus the unique opportunity to manage more complex cases.   

There are so many different opportunities and career paths you can pursue, that the only limitation is you. You just have to have the drive to go for it. Whether that’s working in general practice, hospital, community, dental public health, research or training, you really have the unique opportunity to change paths during your career.  And that’s what makes dentistry so exciting as a career choice- you never know where it may lead you next.

Author bio

I qualified from King’s College London School of Medicine & Dentistry in 2015, after which I completed my dental foundation training. Following my training, I started to work as a general dental practitioner in a mixed NHS/Private dental practice in North West London which I help to manage.

In 2017, I started my position as a Dental Core Trainee at the Paediatric Department at The Eastman Dental hospital, whilst continuing my commitments in general practice part-time.

I have continued my post-graduate education and gained Membership of the Joint Dental Faculties of the Royal College of Surgeons England and the Faculty of General Dental Practice in 2017. I also have a passion for academic teaching and have recently completed my post-graduate qualification in Dental Education.

This student advice blog was originally published by FGDP(UK) in January 2019 and has been republished by the College of General Dentistry with the author’s permission.

How to get the best from your career in dentistry


Thursday 23 September 2021, webinar recording available.

We discuss career options for dental professionals and how the College’s Career Pathways can support your career, looking at specific questions:

  • Not sure where to go next in your career?
  • Not sure which courses to take?
  • Not sure what opportunities are available to you?
  • Want to find our about the new College of General Dentistry (CGDent previously FGDP) Career Pathway?

No matter what stage of your career, CGDent is here to guide you and help you make the best decisions.

The webinar, hosted by CGDent and ProDental CPD, is relevant to the whole team, no matter what your role or stage in your dental career, and starts our program of interactive career and development planning workshops.

Chair:

  • Dr Abhi Pal FCGDent, President of the College of General Dentistry

Speakers:

  • Ian Dunn
  • Dr Sanjeev Bhanderi
  • Dr Amin Aminian
  • Dr Jalpesh Patel
  • Dr Sami Stagnell
  • Dr Amit Mistry
  • Dr Archana Prasad
  • Dr Ross Hobson
  • Dr Roshni Karia

CGDent members and ProDental subscribers have access to the recording of this event, and can claim CPD hours, free of charge.  A £20 fee applies for non-members/non-subscribers.

This webinar is part of the new partnership between the College of General Dentistry (CGDent) and ProDental CPD.

Membership of the College of General Dentistry is open to all registered dental professionals. Membership for dentists is available from £94, and for other registered dental professionals from £33. The full list of CGDent membership rates is at https://cgdent.uk/membership-fees/

Career Pathway for dentists to provide a flexible structure for 21st century practice

Phil Dawson, general dental practitioner with a special interest in restorative dentistry, explains how the College’s Career Pathway for dentists is being developed to provide a clearly defined structure whilst offering the flexibility needed by the contemporary practitioner.

I graduated from the University of Liverpool in December 1991 before commencing my first role as an associate dentist in sunny Wigan the following month. If someone had asked me back then what my career goals were, I think I probably would have answered “to be a dentist”!  Now the best part of 30 years later, I sit writing this blog having achieved, I feel, this mighty goal!

During this time, I am or have variously been:

  • Associate dentist
  • Principal/partner of multi-group mixed NHS/private practice
  • Educational Supervisor/VT trainer (as was)
  • Specialty Dentist/Honorary Teaching Fellow at Manchester University
  • HEE appointed mentor
  • ORE Examiner
  • Course Lead/Director/Tutor/Examiner for FGDP Diploma in Restorative Dentistry
  • Clinical Support Manager for {my}dentist
  • Associate Dental Dean for Conduct & Performance at HEE NW

Despite the above list, if asked by anyone I still describe my job as a “dentist”!

The various stages in my career have developed not as part of some grand master plan, but rather by independent, often disjointed steps. I suspect I will not be alone in this mode of career progression. My career history goes to prove that dental careers often ‘happen’ and develop over the course of our practising lifetime, possibly in unplanned ways and taking directions which initially seem quite unlikely.

My association with FGDP and CGDent began when I completed the second cohort of the Restorative Diploma in 2008. This was to turn out to be a pivotal moment in my career development as most of the roles in the list above were as a direct consequence of this qualification, including becoming Course Lead/Director for the Diploma in a classic poacher turned gamekeeper move! My eternal gratitude goes to Professor Paul Brunton and Mr Ian Wood for such inspiration.

This close association culminated in being asked by CGDent to be Chair of the Working Group for Career Pathways for Dentists. I was tasked with recruiting a group of individuals that was representative of dentists today – no easy task I admit, but I have been blessed with meeting some highly motivated and intelligent fellow dentists throughout my career so far.

The idea was to develop a pathway that identified the different stages of career progression, the key features of these different stages and how these stages might be evidenced. Right from the outset it was emphasised that the old-fashioned notion of ‘tick-box’ career progression was NOT what we were after! Yes, we wanted a framework for career progression, but it was imperative that this framework contained a great degree of flexibility so as to allow the modern 21st century dentist to adequately showcase their career development whilst also allowing the profession and the public to be confident that such a framework represented a safe and coherent structure to career progression.

Another exciting feature was that this process was to be introduced throughout the WHOLE of the dental team – different working groups were to be similarly set up looking at career progression for hygienist/therapists; dental nurses and orthodontic therapists; clinical dental technicians and dental technicians. I felt this was such an important feature of the process – aligning the career pathways of the WHOLE of the dental team as befits the College of General Dentistry.

My aim was to recruit a team of individuals who, using their own experiences and visions, would be able to develop ideas of career progression along the lines set out above. It was humbling that everyone I approached did agree to join the Working Group – and so it is made up of quite an eclectic group of individuals.

The College’s aim in developing these Career Pathways, is to provide some structure to aid our career progression without this being too prescriptive. As you will appreciate from reading this blog, my own career has followed quite a unique pathway, and the Working Group has been keen to allow for this variability in career development.

As I write this, the final version is still in development but the end-product is looking very exciting. I wish such a structure had been in place all those years ago on that first journey from Liverpool to Wigan….!!

You may also be interested in reading blogs from other practitioners involved in developing the Career Pathways programme.

College of General Dentistry makes commitment to building careers for all dental professionals

The College of General Dentistry, in partnership with Colgate Palmolive UK,
announces an important programme to build career pathways for all those working in
a professional capacity in primary care and general dentistry, which will be rolled out
in the coming months following the opening of the College to membership on 1 July
2021.

The Career Pathways initiative brings together all roles in the dental team to create life-long career structures: to enhance professional standing, and to engage the confidence of patients in the skills and care they receive.

At a time when there has never been a greater need to retain and nurture a motivated workforce in dentistry, this programme aims to provide purpose and direction for careers across the whole team. It is an initiative developed for the dental professions, by the dental professions, but has attracted much wider attention at a time of special concern about oral healthcare across the UK and access to services.

The College will be structuring its membership to reflect important career stages for each and every member of the dental team. Membership is open to all registered dental professionals, and Faculties of the College will support each team member with their own career development and aspirations.

The Career Pathways programme is led by Janet Clarke MBE FCGDent, Chair of Trustees, and Abhi Pal FCGDent, its new President, together with Roshni Karia MCGDent, Vice President, and Simon Thornton-Wood PhD, Lead Executive for the College.

An authoritative group of dental professionals have been brought together for the programme, in working groups led by Debbie Reed (Dental Nursing and Orthodontic Therapy), Emma Pacey (Dental Hygiene & Dental Therapy), Michael Brindle & Darren Ware (Dental Technology & Clinical Dental Technology), and Philip Dawson (Dental Practitioners).

More details of the programme can be found on the College’s website.

Janet Clarke said:

The College of General Dentistry is now open, welcoming all members of the dental team. Our driving passion is to enhance the careers of dental professionals in the patient interest: there is an acute need for direction and support in primary care and general dentistry careers today. Together with Colgate, we are excited to be bringing forward new and accessible ways to develop skills and enhance the team, over the coming months.

Dr Emanuele Cotroneo, Scientific Affairs Project Manager for Colgate in Northern
Europe, said:

Colgate is most proud of this exclusive partnership with the newly launched College of General Dentistry, which enables the development of the College Career Pathways. This important partnership further supports Colgate’s continuing mission in becoming a valuable partner in dental education and professional development. The Career Pathways will provide a structured guide for dental professionals to pursue their clinical interests as well as enhancing their skills.

Dr Heather Mitchell, Dentist and HEE Clinical Fellow engaged in the programme,
said:

The College’s commitment to prioritise a patient-centred approach to oral health care, as well as provide a much-needed structure for skills and career development, will serve to improve professionalism in dentistry. In turn, this will hopefully strengthen patient trust in their oral healthcare, benefitting the oral health of the nation. From my involvement in the programme, I can really appreciate what a great opportunity this has been to work on such an innovative project so early on in my career, I feel proud of what we have managed to achieve and am looking forward to sharing it more widely.

Andrea Johnson, Dental Technician and a member of the Career Pathways
Programme Reference Group, said:

I am very excited t o work with the College and with like-minded professionals from across dentistry to help define the dental college of the future that we all want and most definitely need. I urge all members of the team in oral healthcare, in the strongest possible way, to join the College and be proud to be part of something amazing.

Special care community dentist, Heather Mitchell

Special care community dentist, Dr Heather Mitchell, is part of the Career Pathways Programme Board leading the development of the College’s Career Pathways, designed for each profession within the dental team. Here she describes the in-depth work that has been carried out to ensure the College’s professional framework and membership structure effectively support the career development of every member of the dental team.

I started my role as an Education Fellow with the College of General Dentistry in September 2020. My average week is two days working as a special care community dentist in Birmingham and three days working on the Career Pathways project. My work with the College has been from home this year and the hours are flexible with some evening meetings to allow us to meet with professionals who are working clinically during the day.

During the first meeting with Janet Clarke and Abhi Pal back in September 2020, they explained the College’s vision for the career pathways, how we would be setting out a professional framework for all seven of the dental professions covering five domains and within each of those there would be five different membership levels. After the meeting I felt excited about having the opportunity to be involved however also slightly daunted about the amount of work required to get there especially as these career pathways have never been defined before. When I joined the College the working groups for each profession had been established, they had been carefully selected to represent professionals from across the UK and who were at different stages in their careers.

There is very much a team effort approach with this project to ensure the framework is not reflective of just one person’s voice. I work alongside Kirsty McCulloch who is an education and quality assurance specialist with experience working within dentistry, Steve Stark an expert facilitator and whose company, Then Somehow, works with companies to increase their productivity, and finally Tara Williams (formerly Gus) who is helping with the organisational side and managing the huge spreadsheet of the framework. We have been working completely online so far, which means we have not been restricted by location when organising meetings. Also, for the members of the working groups we have been able to organise meetings far more easily than if we had to do it face to face, resulting in involvement of professionals from across the UK

Our initial working groups meetings were about introducing the concept and ideas of the Career Pathways framework, the College is unique because it is open to all dental professionals, this puts emphasis on the importance of a team-based approach to patient care and lifelong learning. To get the conversation started we asked the members of each working group to think about a colleague who they felt fitted into one of the different career stages. They were asked to describe their professional attributes by thinking about what they said and how they worked for example. From this activity a lot of general themes appeared across all the professions such as reflection, communication, awareness of their own competence and being patient focused. I took these themes and created a first draft of the framework using the language from each working group. The aim of the framework is to be inclusive and accessible for everyone therefore the use of language had to be carefully considered.

We then took the framework back to the working groups to highlight in traffic light colours which parts they were happy with and where there could be improvement. This allowed us to further shape the framework and populate all 5 levels of the framework for each profession. It is essential there is flexibility in the framework, to allow professionals to use it who have more than one job role or who have moved away from clinical work.

By this stage the framework across the professions were becoming more similar and actually for some domains, for example ethical practice and self-reflection, they were the same across each profession. This helps to support the collective voice of the profession which the College is aiming to create.

We are now at the stage where we have a prototype of the framework which we have taken to the Reference Group and a sponsor group for further feedback. During this process we have always thought about how professionals will evidence this framework, and we are now at the stage where we are starting to discuss this with the working groups. It should be evidence that is accessible for the whole team and not limited to postgraduate qualifications. The idea of the framework is that a professional can use it as a tool to plan how to move up the levels if desired or maintain where they are. It is not expected that every professional will be aiming to be an accomplished practitioner.

The College’s commitment to prioritise a patient-centred approach to oral health care, as well as provide a much-needed structure for skills and career development within the profession, will serve to improve professionalism in dentistry. In turn, this will hopefully strengthen patient trust in their oral healthcare, benefitting the oral health of the nation. Now that I have been in the role for ten months, I can really appreciate what a great opportunity this has been to work on such an innovative project so early on in my career, I feel proud of what we have managed to achieve and am looking forward to sharing it more widely.

You may also be interested in reading blogs from Career Pathway Reference Group members, Professor Avijit Banerjee, Chair in Cariology & Operative Dentistry at Guy’s and Andrea Johnson, orthodontic & maxillofacial laboratory manager.

Career Pathways will support all dental professionals

A member of the College’s Career Pathway Reference Group and Advisory Strategy Group, orthodontic & maxillofacial laboratory manager, Andrea Johnson, explains how the College of General Dentistry will benefit and support every member of the dental team.

Who am I? That is a good question, I am currently a highly specialised orthodontic technician, orthodontic & OMFS laboratory manager, deputy clinical governance lead, quality improvement coach, chair/founder of registered charity Den-Tech, editorial board member of the Dental Technician magazine, advisory & reference group member of CGDent and a part time masters student. I have previously served as a STEM ambassador, Chair of the OTA, a DTA council member, have taught dental technology in various education establishments, I lecture both nationally and internationally at conferences and events and generally get involved in trying to further and support my profession wherever and whenever I can.

Is this who I have always been? No. I actually retrained into dental technology in my early 30’s. I must admit that it was a little scary in some respects going back to being a student and knowing I would be one of the eldest in the cohort. However, I needn’t have feared because I was welcomed with open arms and treated as just one of the group. Having said that, I did end up mothering them all to some degree!

My career in dental technology has been relatively straight forward. I started out in a small private denture laboratory and then after a couple of years moved into the hospital service, training further in orthodontic technology, and have not looked back since. I didn’t realise at the time just how much I would enjoy the challenges I would face in the field of orthodontics, especially the more complex patient cases we see in the hospital service.

When I started at my first hospital-based post, my then manager insisted that I become a member of the Orthodontic Technicians Association (OTA) and attend their annual conference. He realised the value of contact with fellow technicians from other labs and the networking opportunities these events provide. Little did I know at that time where that would lead, but I am very grateful for the nudge, because after only two years as a member I was approached by the then chair of the OTA and was asked to present at their conference and subsequently to sit on the council. Ultimately, I spent over 8 years on the council serving in a variety of roles including the OTA’s first female chairperson.

My time with the OTA gave me the opportunity to engage with professionals and regulators from across dentistry in a variety of settings, but the common theme I always noticed was the inequalities in the opportunities and engagement offered to our various groups within dentistry and the outdated hierarchy clearly still very present.

Throughout my working life, I have found that the only truly positive and productive way forward is through a strong team-working ethic, resulting in effective output and higher levels of job satisfaction for all team members.

These are the reasons that I was very excited and honoured to be approached to work with the newly-forming College of General Dentistry, to be given the opportunity to work with like-minded, professionals from across dentistry and help define the dental college of the future that we all want and most definitely need.

A college that will treat every member of the team as an equal, that will recognise the incredibly important role that each and everyone of us plays in achieving the very best in patient care and outcomes.

So how will this be achieved? One of the key and very exciting steps is the evolution of the College’s Career Pathways for each of the dental groups. The Career Pathways are being designed with parity, between all dental team groups, with equivalent progression, recognised associated post nominals and membership status regardless of our role within the profession. It will be our experience, skill, ability, training and education that will determine our position and standing within the College, allowing all to stand proudly shoulder to shoulder with our peers.

We have a very dedicated group of representatives from across the profession working on these pathways and they are looking fantastic already. Although there will still be some tweaking needed to complete the pathways after the College has launched, they will be integral to the College membership structure, with regular reviewing to ensure they remain relevant for all the years ahead.

In short, I have real belief and faith in what the College is determined to achieve, and although I have outlined only a tiny part of what will be a clearly defined membership structure for the full dental team, I urge you all, in the strongest possible way, to join the College and be proud to be part of something amazing.

You may also be interested in reading blogs from Dr Heather Mitchell special care community dentist, and Professor Avijit Banerjee, Chair in Cariology & Operative Dentistry at Guy’s, who are both part of the Career Pathways development team.

Professor Avijit Banerjee’s career path

Professor Avijit Banerjee sits on the College’s Career Pathway Reference Group. We asked him to share his own career path with us and set out how CGDent’s Career Pathways will benefit dentistry and the wider oral healthcare profession in the UK.

My personal career pathway

After qualifying as a dentist from Guy’s in 1993, I wanted to train as a specialist clinician, teach and carry out dental research. Thirty years ago, such formal career pathways were more varied, with no real roadmap available detailing what experience was required or what qualifications were needed etc etc. Thus, I forged my complex personalised career pathway in clinical academia by gaining advice and mentorship from key individuals in my career.

The first stage started with what was then called “house jobs” in Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery followed by an18-month rotation at Mount Vernon, Hillingdon and Watford General Hospitals. I learned / osmosed so many surgical skills and patient management skills, working with hospital and primary care teams and making lifelong friends along the way. During these latter senior house officer (SHO) posts, I completed my primary and final FDS RCS (Eng), which in those days had a pass rate of only 10%!

It was at this stage, I started to look at my research career in more depth. After carrying out scientific research as a dental undergraduate and publishing my first research paper the year I qualified, I was bitten by the bug and wished to pursue this aspect of my career by studying for a PhD. So, whilst an SHO, I collaborated with my supervisors back at Guy’s and applied for a Medical Research Council Clinical Training Fellowship which would cover my 3 yr salary and costs for my PhD. I was extremely fortunate to win this national award (at that time only two other dentists had been awarded this prestigious MRC Fellowship in the past 30 yrs).

Between the years of 1995-98 I carried out my research full-time at Guy’s, which also included a masters in the first year, at UCL. I was acutely aware of the importance of maintaining wet-fingered clinical practice, so I also got a part-time job in primary care general dental practice, working two sessions/week, evenings and weekends. Forging such a career path involves much ball juggling and during this period, I became adept at this!

After finishing my PhD (in Cariology and Operative Dentistry), I was lucky enough to get a full-time substantive clinical lecturer’s position in Guy’s, in Conservative Dentistry. This role allowed me to develop my teaching, research and management/leadership skills. During the next 7 yrs, I completed my clinical specialist training in Restorative Dentistry, continued with my research (supervising masters and doctorate students, writing grants and papers, and lecturing at international conferences) and developed my teaching and management skills, leading clinical teachers and UG students.

From 2005, I was promoted with seniority, firstly to senior lecturer and ultimately, 10 yrs ago, to a personal Chair at Guy’s with an Honorary NHS Consultant contract with Guy’s & St. Thomas’ Hospitals Trust. I am now privileged to hold several senior national roles within the profession and have an international lecturing/research reputation in my discipline.

All this time, I have continued to work in private practice, reduced now to two sessions/month. It is always wise in my opinion, not to close off any opportunities during one’s career progression as you never know how things will transpire. It is the variety of experiences that develop and enrich one’s career until the day you retire.

The need for career pathways

I have learned a lot about myself (and others) during my career. Although hard work, but fulfilling, there was much left to chance and the support I received was welcome but hard-sought. The processes in those days were less transparent perhaps, but equally competitive as they are now.

The world has changed.

Therefore, the processes available to encourage, enhance and enrich career progression must also evolve.

The traditional qualification-based linear progression through one’s chosen discipline needs to be questioned with regards to its value, appropriateness and modern-day inclusivity. A more holistic, depth and breadth of quality of experience-based approach will empower individuals to take control of their training and allow inter-disciplinary cross-over.

The College of General Dentistry Career Pathway Reference Group was created with the remit to help develop and guide this structure and ultimately its implementation. We are collating the results from the working groups convened for each oral healthcare team member career pathway. The working groups consist of expert influencers within the specific professional stakeholder groups, including dental nurses, clinical dental technicians, orthodontic technicians, hygienists, dental therapists and dentists.

The Reference Group wisely has representation from all oral healthcare team members, accepting that “one size does not necessarily fit all” when considering career progression milestones. The CGDent challenge will be assessing, quality assuring and validating the huge variety of holistic evidence that could be attained for each of the seven oral healthcare clinical career pathways, to provide and align milestones to allow progression of team members from safe beginners to accomplished practitioners throughout their career.

This is a huge project with hugely positive implications for the oral and dental profession as a whole. Inclusivity of team roles, the appreciation of different forms of training and how it affects the individual, adaptation and quality assurance are all challenges to overcome, to allow a flexible, career-enabled and inclusive workforce to develop and deliver better oral health to our nation.

You may also be interested in reading blogs from Andrea Johnson, orthodontic & maxillofacial laboratory manager, and Dr Heather Mitchell community dentist, who are both part of the Career Pathways development team.