Ian Mills shares his thoughts on the role organisations can play in supporting dental careers.

Working as a dentist in primary care can be tough.

I am sure those of you who work in general dental practice would agree, although most would acknowledge that the professional and personal rewards can be significant.

In my opinion the key to success is to surround yourself with the right people: patients, staff and colleagues; although some might say, that’s easier said than done!

The old adage that you get the patients you deserve’ may well have some truth in it.

In my experience, our own approach and that of the dental team often profoundly influence our own patients’ attitudes and behaviours.

A key to this is developing the patient-dentist relationship, where mutual trust and respect are vital aspects of a successful career in general dental practice.

This is not the exclusive domain of the dentist, and the role of the whole dental team is crucial in maintaining the quality of care provided.

Effective recruitment and training of staff is crucial, and I’ve always found recruitment to be most important.

‘Recruit for attitude, train for skill’ has served me well over the last 21 years as a practice owner and I am very fortunate to be part of a fantastic team.

Isolation

It is often suggested that one of the challenges of working in general dental practice is the feeling of isolation.

I have observed this with colleagues; although it is not something I have experienced myself.

This is partly because of my good fortune to have met many inspirational colleagues who have provided me with support, mentorship and friendship throughout my career.

Undoubtedly, my involvement with the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK) has been absolutely key in this regard.

I have been a member of FGDP(UK) for many years, but my Damascene moment was in 2006 when I embarked on the diploma in implant dentistry.

This experience was truly career changing in many respects.

The acquisition of knowledge, understanding and skills was highly important but it was exposure to inspirational colleagues, which had the greatest impact on my career. 

Professional organisations, such as the FGDP(UK), are able to offer a sense of peer support and development through training, networking and shared practice.

This has become increasingly relevant with the additional pressures of working within general dental practice.

As a GDP we need to thrive rather than simply survive; and to achieve this, we need to surround ourselves with the right people.

I have managed to maintain my passion and enthusiasm for dentistry for over 30 years, and this is largely due to my involvement with the faculty and their inspirational members.

If you are not a member, I would urge you to consider.

You could not be joining at a more exciting time as we embark on the process of establishing a college of general dentistry.