Dr Debbie Reed receives inaugural Janet Goodwin Award

Dr Debbie Reed AssocFCGDent has received the inaugural Janet Goodwin Award, which was conferred last night by Abhi Pal, President of the College of General Dentistry (CGDent), at a reception marking the 80th anniversary of the British Association of Dental Nurses (BADN).

The new award was instituted to recognise achievement by dental care professionals (DCPs) in areas such as leadership, standards of professionalism and patient care, commitment to life-long learning, service to the profession and advocacy for the whole-team approach to general dental care.

A dental nurse, Associate Fellow of CGDent, and accomplished and passionate tutor, Dr Reed is Head of the Department for Digital and Lifelong Learning and the Centre for Professional Practice at the University of Kent, where she developed and runs the Masters in Advanced and Specialist Healthcare (Applied Dental Professional Practice pathway). She received the award in recognition of her extraordinary commitment to her own education, as well as that of others throughout the whole dental team. She completed an educational doctorate in 2019, and has written and contributed to articles on topics such as mentoring, evidence-based practice in dental nursing, and the professional image of dental nurses. The award also recognises her ‘can do’ attitude, her inspiration of others to want to achieve their very best, and her advocacy for DCPs to have the same career opportunities and experiences as dentists. Last year she was awarded the BADN Outstanding Contribution to Dental Nursing Professional Practice Award in recognition for her work with dental nurses.

The award to Dr Reed was announced in April 2021 by the Faculty of General Dental Practice UK (FGDP), which elected not to host a conferral ceremony at the time due to concern over potential coronavirus transmission.

The award honours the legacy of the late Janet Goodwin FFGDP(UK)(Hon.), who throughout her almost 50 years as a dental nurse was a staunch advocate for the advancement and recognition of DCPs.

In a wide-ranging career, Janet worked in general dental practice, community practice, secondary care and healthcare management. She was the first dental nurse to be a member of the General Dental Council, and held a number of other notable posts including Chair of the GDC Standards Review Group and President of the Oral Health Foundation, and was both an Examiner and Chair of the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses. She served the FGDP for many years as a representative for the interests of the wider dental team, and became an Affiliate Member of the Faculty when it opened its membership to DCPs in 2005. An elected member and Chair of the Faculty’s DCP Committee, she sat on the Board for over ten years as an Observer, contributed to many standing committees, provided input during the development of standards and guidance, and was awarded Honorary Fellowship in 2019. She passed away in September 2020 after a long battle with breast cancer.

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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/.

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Ian Mills, Marie Parker & Pouya Zohrabpour appointed College Ambassadors

The College of General Dentistry has announced the appointments of Dr Ian Mills, Marie Parker and Dr Pouya Zohrabpour as ambassadors.

New CGDent Ambassadors (l-r) Dr Pouya Zohrabpour, Marie Parker, Dr Ian Mills

Drawn from a variety of backgrounds, College Ambassadors have a remit to advocate for the college’s mission and vision, and the new appointments further expand the range of expertise and scope of influence among its team of ambassadors, and increase its size to fifteen.

Dr Ian Mills FCGDent is a Founder and former Trustee of the College of General Dentistry, a partner in an eight-surgery mixed NHS-and-private practice in North Devon, and Associate Professor in Primary Care Dentistry at Peninsula Dental School. A past Dean of the Faculty of General Dental Practice UK (FGDP) and former Trustee of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, he has represented the profession on a range of local and national committees including Devon LDC, the BDA General Dental Practice Committee and NHS England’s Dental Systems Reform Advisory Board, and in 2020 was a member of the CGDent-FGDP COVID-19 guideline development group and SDCEP’s AGP Rapid Review group. He is a Fellow of CGDent, the Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, the International College of Dentistry and the Higher Education Academy, and a past Fellow of FGDP, and in 2018 he was awarded a PhD from Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry for his research on person-centred care in dentistry. Involved in undergraduate and postgraduate education, and actively engaged in practice-based research, his other research interests include patient-reported outcome measures and environmental sustainability in dentistry.

Marie Parker is the Deputy Programme Director of Hygiene and Therapy at University College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust London and an Associate Member of CGDent.  Since qualifying as a dental nurse, Marie has worked in various areas of dentistry and completed a number of leadership and management qualifications, as well as a Master’s in Education. An advocate and promoter of dental nursing careers, and of improving the accessibility of education and training for all registered dental care professionals, she has been involved in the training and education of dental nurses and other members of the dental team throughout most of her career.  Currently co-chair of the Dental Trailblazers group, she is a past Chair and Trustee of the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses.

Dr Pouya Zohrabpour graduated BDS from the University of Bristol in 2020 and is an Associate Member of CGDent. He completed his Foundation Training in north-west London, where he continues to work as an associate dentist in both a mixed and a private practice, and earlier this year he received the Faculty of General Dental Practice UK’s Foundation Dentist of the Year award in recognition of his professionalism, dedication, and development of training initiatives for young dentists. He pursues his passion for teaching through his Two Dentists YouTube channel and Instagram account, and collaborates with the My Dental Care app to create oral health videos aimed at educating the public.

Commenting on the new appointments, Dr Abhi Pal FCGDent, President of the College, said:

“A strong, dynamic, diverse team of ambassadors is important to the College in working towards eligibility for the award of a Royal Charter and realising its considerable potential for the profession and our patients. Ian, Marie and Pouya bring with them a range of experience and professional interests which will help the College fulfil its aspirations. Marie and Pouya reflect the diverse dental professional backgrounds which the College has a mission to support, from established members of the dental team to those who are beginning their careers in dentistry, and as a past Dean of the FGDP, Ian was instrumental in CGDent’s formation, and brings considerable experience. I am delighted to welcome them as College Ambassadors and look forward to working with them.”

Ian Mills said:

“I am honoured to be invited to be a College Ambassador. I believe the establishment of the new college was a historic moment for dentistry, building on the fantastic achievements of the FGDP(UK). Dentistry is facing a number of huge challenges at the present time, and there is no doubt that CGDent will play a vital role in leading and supporting the dental profession in the years and decades ahead. The COVID pandemic has demonstrated the importance of collaboration, cooperation and inclusiveness. It is hugely encouraging to see that CGDent has these values at its core as the collegiate home for all members of the dental team.”    

Marie Parker said:

“I’m delighted to be appointed an ambassador for the College of General Dentistry.  The college has, from the start of its journey, ensured that dental nurses, together with all other dental care professionals, have been included in its development.  Now more than ever it is important that the professions come together to overcome current challenges and realise the potential of the dental team. I look forward to working with the college to promote, champion and celebrate the role and importance of dental nurses.”       

Pouya Zohrabpour said:

“The College of General Dentistry will positively influence the careers of many dental professionals, and aid us all in our development. I am excited to have a role in this journey as a College Ambassador, and look forward to helping the college in achieving its goals and visions.”

Previously appointed College Ambassadors include:

  • Dr Louise Belfield, Associate Professor of Biomedical and Oral Health Sciences, Peninsula Dental School
  • Professor Jonathan Cowpe, former Director of Postgraduate Dental Education in Wales
  • Dr Shelagh Farrell, Founder Member of the Faculty of General Dental Practice UK
  • Dr Marina Harris, Senior Lecturer and Periodontology Lead, University of Portsmouth Dental Academy
  • Professor Jacky Hayden CBE, President, Academy of Medical Educators
  • Professor Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief, The Lancet
  • Dame Parveen Kumar DBE, Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Education, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London
  • Professor Jason Leitch CBE, National Clinical Director, Scottish Government
  • Dr Govin Murugachandran, Founder, Flynotes
  • Dr Yewande Oduwole, Associate Dentist
  • Rt Hon Sir Mike Penning, Member of Parliament
  • Dr Wendy Thompson, Lecturer in Primary Dental Care, University of Manchester

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 Council takes office, with new appointments

The Council of the College of General Dentistry convened for the first time on Friday, 23 July 2021, welcoming new members to expand representation across the dental team.

The Council is elected by the membership, and continues its work from the Board of the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK), which is in the process of transferring to the College. Chaired by the President of the College, Abhi Pal FCGDent, the Council is the senior professional forum of the College and guides College Trustees on its development to serve patients and the dental professions across general dentistry. Dr Pal is supported by the recently-elected Vice Presidents, Roshni Karia MCGDent and Tashfeen Kholasi MCGDent.

Members of Council attending the first meeting in person; a number attended by videoconference in light of COVID-19 related circumstances
Continue reading “College Council takes office, with new appointments”

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.