Ian Mills explains why dentistry graduates need additional support.

Debates around the technical preparedness of young graduates are well rehearsed, but it is undeniable that a lack of clinical experience can prove extremely challenging in general practice.

Things have changed since my day: higher standards, robust regulatory oversight and increasing patient expectations may have resulted in a safer environment for patients, but one that is also increasingly challenging for dental health professionals.

We hear of unrealistic UDA targets being placed on newly qualified dentists, young associates having to repay salary when they do not achieve and defensive dentistry, where we seem to spend almost as much time writing our clinical records as carrying out an assessment.

The focus is increasingly on self-preservation rather than person-centred care, which is not a healthy environment to work in.

Mentoring and support

In 2018, the FGDP(UK) held a future leader’s event and one of the key suggestions was to facilitate the opportunity for mentoring and support as part of a career pathway.

A recognised career pathway will allow young practitioners to work towards a clear goal and will also provide a method of acknowledging the incredible skills and expertise which resides within primary care.

As general dental practitioners, we ought to be proud of our status within the profession and the contribution that we make to the health and well-being of our patients.

It is clear that we can only deliver for our patients if we have a fit, healthy and motivated workforce acting as part of the dental team.

We need to find a way of reversing low morale within the profession and the best way of doing that is by helping each other.

I believe that the establishment of the College of General Dentistry is an important step in achieving this and my New Year’s resolution is to ensure that we are in a position to do so in 2019.

Watch this space!


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