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The loneliness of the associate

Geoff Newman describes his career as a principal and associate and some of the pitfalls he fell into.

Many decades ago I entered general dental practice, bright eyed, energetic, ambitious and knowing everything there was to know about clinical dentistry. Like most newbies I started as an associate and was fortunate to work with two very kind and honest principals. But, like most young associates, I wanted to be a principal.

I did indeed become a principal with my own practice but with no business training I was soon engulfed by the labyrinthine of staff hassles, PAYE, sick pay, unhelpful banks, bad leasing agreements, here today gone tomorrow associates and dwindling NHS fees. My clinical skin was saved by leaving the NHS and practising privately, as it seemed to me that the administrative antics necessary to earn a healthy living in the NHS were the antithesis of the professionalism I had seen modelled as a student. Even so, a day came when a welcome letter dropped through the door from my accountant.

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