If you’ve just completed dental school as a dentist, congratulations to you. Now it is time to land your first job as an associate in a general dental practice, whether you want to be an associate in the NHS or look for a position in a private dental practice. Or you may be a dental hygienist looking for your next job. Regardless of why you’re job hunting, here are 5 tips for finding a great job in dentistry.
1. Know What to Look for in a Practice
Know what makes a private dental practice stand out from the crowd. You’ll want to tailor your resume to reflect their values, and this should be reflected in your answers to interview questions. When you’re in an interview, you want to find a practice where you “click” with the principal dentist. You can also gauge the work environment by asking about turnover. How many associates work for them? How long have most of them been with the practice?
Ask to talk to a long-term practice so that you can find out what it will really be like to work there. For example, bad practice management creates unnecessary stress for you. The odds of this go up if the practice has a non-dentist running the place. If the practice has equipment that is constantly out of working order, that is a constant source of frustration, and it could lead to you being billed for something that isn’t your fault. The latter issue will depend on your contract.
2. Ask Your Vocational Trainer
Did you enjoy your vocational training or VT placement? If a job becomes available, they may offer it to you. If they haven’t extended such an offer, don’t be afraid to ask if they would consider you. You have a leg up over the competition because they know you. Furthermore, there is less of a learning curve for you if hired since you have already worked there for a while.
3. Attend Local Dental Committee Meetings
Attending local dental committee or LDC meetings may seem dull, but it is a good way to meet principal dentists. These are the people who are likely to either hire you or refer you to positions in the area. Don’t forget to ask about open positions at private dental offices, rather than focusing your attention on the NHS.
4. Search Online Job Sites Specialising in Dental Jobs
Don’t waste your time searching massive job boards. You have new sites like www.dentaljobsonline.ie that make it super easy for dentists, dental hygienists, practice managers, and others to find jobs in the dental field. It is a valuable tool both for recruiters and prospects. Job seekers know that every job is in the dental field, and recruiters know that their posts for a dental nurse won’t be answered by someone who has never worked in a dental office.
5. Thoroughly Review Any Contract
As a self-employed associate, you’ll have very few rights. The rights you do have are spelled out in the contract. Never work for a dental practice that doesn’t give you a written contract. We’d recommend using the British Dental Association or BDA contract since it is designed to be fair to both parties.
You might be offered a different contract. Read it and have a legal professional review it. However, you can be fairly certain that a 60-page contract is not in your favor. A short one-page contract is also a red flag. If they pressure you to sign it citing schedule concerns, leave. You are legally bound by the contract you sign, whether or not you read or understand it.
Things to check for in a contract include the length of the agreement, retention fees, pay dates, extra charges, hygienist fees, notice period, areas of work, money, and UDA quality. A one-year agreement is common, while two and three-year agreements may be extended.
Retention fees are there to reimburse customers if your patients’ dental work has to be redone. A reasonable amount is £1,000 for work after a year or two. Very large retention fees could leave you in debt several thousand pounds when you leave the practice.
Pay dates should say what day of the week or month you’re paid. As an associate, you’re expected to pay part of the lab bills and any equipment you accidentally break. Some firms charge you for almost everything.
Learn what is reasonable and expected, so that your salary isn’t consumed by these little fees that add up. You may have to pay the dental hygienist. Know if the figure in the contract is reasonable before you sign. You can argue for a UDA or percentage value offered instead of a flat fee.
The notice period is how much notice they must have before you can quit. Three months is reasonable. Anything longer will make it hard to find a new job. A related issue is the area of work. Nearly all contracts limit where you can work for a certain period after you quit. If you’re closely tied to a given area, you should negotiate the boundaries or time frame so that you don’t have to move to find new employment.
Many new graduates find it difficult to negotiate pay rates. Yet you’ll reap the rewards if you negotiate a higher pay rate. UDA quantities should be a serious concern. Don’t set a UDA quantity that’s unreasonably high. It will generate unnecessary stress, and it could cost you dearly if you don’t make the contract in the form of a clawback.
One solution is only being paid for performance. In this case, there should not be a clawback clause in your contract. Another option is having a UDA renegotiation clause written into your contract. This allows you to reset the UDA target, whether you’re over-achieving or under-achieving. Or you could work for the NHS, where you have guaranteed income compared to someone working on a fee per item.
Dentistry is a rewarding, high-paying field. Know where to go to find one of the few available positions and understand how you can identify the practice that is right for you.