Earlier this year, the Association of Dental Groups (ADG) held its inaugural annual awards dinner. Guests included the chief dental officer, Dr Barry Cockcroft, Dr John Milne of the British Dental Association and dental charities. It was an outstanding evening, simply because we had all come together to celebrate young talent in dentistry. And it was also a chance to highlight how vital it is for students to understand the non-clinical aspects of modern dentistry.
The ADG’s view is that any young dentist who displays an understanding of how to manage a dental practice, and of what is involved in real ‘professionalism’, in addition to good clinical skills, will be in high demand once he or she leaves university. Irrespective of whether they join a larger corporate or a small independent practice, dentists are expected to provide quality dental care to patients, and to understand how to manage a practice. This includes knowing how to navigate ever-changing HR and NHS regulations, dealing with complaints procedures and coping with the normal challenges of running a small business. Given the changes required by NHS and other professional bodies, these issues are becoming more prominent.
The right focus
The results of our 2013 ADG Bursary Programme gave the ADG confidence that we are focusing on an important area. We had seven very impressive prize winners and Chloe Richardson, Eliska Dvorakova and Hassaan Nasir, who came first in the professionalism, management, and post-graduate categories respectively, proved to us that there is a strong sense of business acumen amongst some dental students.
It was Hassaan’s words that summed up the changing nature of modern dentistry. He said: ‘Being a dentist isn’t wholly about clinical work. It is also about understanding how to run a business and to develop structured and costed business plans that will allow you to expand and grow, and to deliver quality dental care for as many patients as possible.’
Managing an effective practice is a vitally important skill that students should be well versed in to provide high quality care. However, it is the ADG’s belief that at the moment too few students leave university with an understanding of what this really entails. The ADG is keen to work with dental schools to address this issue and a number of universitys have taken to these awards and are now promoting them.
The 2014 ADG bursary programme has evolved slightly from last year’s and full details are available on the ADG’s website. There are three undergraduate prizes for both streams – management and for professionalism, first place receives £1,000, second £750 and third £250.
The management award relates to the current management and leadership domain, while the professionalism category focuses on what being a professional means in terms of the dentist, patients and colleagues.
In addition, we have maintained the ADG postgraduate award, which is also open to foundation dentists. It consists of a total prize of £5,000, half of which is to be used to help fund a project that should focus on mouth cancer, while the other half is the prize for the winner.
As the industry continues to evolve, we hope more students are able to display the types of skills we are looking for as part of our awards scheme. These skills are linked to improving patient outcomes as well as running a successful practice and are too important to learn on the job.
To enter the 2014 ADG Bursary Programme, or for more information visit www.dentalgroups.co.uk.