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Self-Development within the Dental Industry

Dr. Arti Patel takes us through the journey she's been through and outlines the significance of developing yourself outside of your practice.

19 April, 2024

Self-development within the dental industry is vital. You will find yourself working in quite a high stress environment, bounded by time constraints, while often bearing the burden of taking lead on the day to day practice work.

This means making progression outside of the practice will only help to relieve that burden and leave you with a peace of mind. As dentists, we find ourselves in an ever-evolving industry where we must overcome the challenges of learning new techniques and adapting to new methods. We are surrounded by many influencers and professionals that have mastered different aspects of dentistry, meaning it is nearly impossible to stop learning if you want to continue to progress in this industry. I personally find this keeps my passion fuelled for my craft.

Upon completing a degree in dentistry, whether you decide to head down a specialised route or the general practice route, you will be faced with a multitude of avenues you can take. If your decision is the latter, I believe taking courses is crucial. You’ll be placed in a community-like environment, with like-minded dentists who are in the same situation as you with a learner mind-set.

Importance of taking additional courses

Inspired me to elevate my craft 

Since graduating, I have taken an interest in minimally invasive cosmetic dentistry. Initially, I completed a number of brief weekend courses, before deciding to advance onto a more extensive 1-year course, which I thought would help to consolidate my knowledge that I had gained prior. I enrolled onto the postgraduate Aspire course which is a restorative training programme that runs once a month throughout the year. I also completed the anterior composite Mini Smile Makeover course taught by Dipesh Parmar. His passion towards the industry is contagious and it not only revealed a new perspective into composite bonding and aesthetic dentistry, but also inspired me to elevate my craft to his level.

Communication skills

In addition to learning the hands-on aspects of dentistry, it’s also worthwhile to devote your time to work on your communication skills as it is key to successful clinical practice.

Effective communication helps to instil confidence in your patients and ensure you put into context what they can expect from their treatment plan. I took the initiative of completing a communications course which taught me a lot about how to structure and present my examinations to patients. This means whether it be taking a radiograph or charting their teeth, you will always have a set procedure to implement for each patient you treat.

Effective communication will also help to draw the necessary information from the patient. For example, consider getting your staff involved in the process and allow your nurse to invite the patient into the room. Remember, it is an anxious environment for the patient and they’re about 30 seconds behind you as to what you’re doing. When speaking, make sure to pace yourself correctly so they can mirror you. In effect, these steps will put the patient at ease and help you gather the information which you can factor in for your treatment plan to make it a more personal experience for them.

Marketing your practice 

As dentists, it’s something we’re never taught or we may not excel in, however marketing is another element which shouldn’t be overlooked. Where possible, have someone you can delegate this aspect to.

At my practice, I’m able to solely focus on the clinical aspect, whereas my partner, who is from a design background, is able to dedicate his time to marketing the practice and ensuring our patients are aware of what we can offer them.

Growing outside of the practice

Take time for ourselves and take a step out of dentistry

As much as we can have a burning passion and energy towards learning everything we can about dentistry and how to be the best dentist we can be, it’s also really important that we take time for ourselves and take a step out of dentistry and look at things in a different way.

I resorted to quite a few self-help books to achieve this, such as The Secret which is based on the belief of law of attraction and trains you to have a positive attitude towards things. I think it’s quite important to identify what works for you personally, because we need to withdraw ourselves from time to time from world of dentistry to help our mind stay healthy.

This can also translate over to our work life. For example, when reading these books, you may feel that it’s merely helping you with your personal life. However, you may come to realise that it does also have a profound impact on your professional life as we can take those lessons and coping methods to replicate in our day to day practice. It may prove to be especially applicable to dentistry as if something doesn’t happen according g to plan, there’s always a way of dealing with it.



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