Perhaps it’s time to walk a mile in associates’ shoes, Alun Rees suggests.

My father left school at 16 and, over the next half a century, had only two employers and was never out of work.

Like most of his contemporaries he sought stability and a ‘job for life’.

By the time I started my first practice at the age of 35 I had been through three fixed-term hospital appointments and five different associate posts.

I am still self-employed, by choice.

Statistics tell us that more than half the population wants to change jobs.

From my recent conversations, I believe that figure includes dental associates.

Significant changes in dental practice organisation means that fewer than 20% of dentists are owners, partners or have a real say in practices, and this has led to an associate merry-go-round.

Why and when to change

In his book When, Daniel Pink discusses why and when people change jobs.

If you are considering a change then ask yourself some questions.

Do you dread the thought of still being there on your next work anniversary?

Time to polish the CV.

Is your current job both demanding and in your control?

Fulfilling jobs make us work at our highest level in a way that we control.

Demanding work but no autonomy burns us out.

Autonomy but little challenge bores us.

Undemanding work and no control are worst of all.

Can you do your best work?

You should be supported, backed up, encouraged and not micro-managed.

If not look around.

Is there an opportunity to increase your income over the medium to long term?

Does your daily work align with your long-term goals?

What are your goals for the next three to five years and can you achieve them?

If not then it’s time to move.

When talking about patients we say ‘walk a mile in their shoes’, perhaps it’s time to do the same for associates.


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