(Original post by muchomungo)
I realise that my long post was overwhelmingly negative. I apologise for that. I do genuinely want to help people though through the experiences I've had.
Of course there are many positives to this career. However, I can see my younger self in so many of the people on here..naive (in a nice way), starry eyed and dreaming of untold riches and status and I had to burst that bubble for you as I really wouldn't want you to find out the hard way. Dentistry right now is in chaos in England.
It's quite ignorant of you to assume that most of us are in it for the money and status. You applied over 5 years ago right? Times have changed since then, a lot more people are gaining long-term experience in dental related settings and actually know more about the profession prior to sending an application off compared to 5 years ago. Why do I say this? Well I'm 24 and considered applying whilst in college. Alot of people did 1-2 weeks general work experience only, didn't bother with specialities and hardly knew anything about the profession. With the increased competition, more and more people are gaining shadowing placements in the community, hospital dentistry, dental labs, private, oral and maxfax and are reading around the dental contracts before interviews. You'd be surprised at how much in depth applicants nowadays know about the profession.
So, let me just get one last thing off my chest and then I'm gonna write some positive thoughts peppered with some reality lol. Someone thinks its easy to earn 60K + a year and thinks I'm exagerrating. It's ok..I wouldn't have believed that either before I understood the system.
The NHS works via the UDA system so..usually a UDA is worth approx £9-10. Although be aware, there are dentists who will undercut you and work for less than that. An employer will ask why should I pay you £10/uda if I have someone to work for 8?
Assuming a uda rate of £9-10
band 1 (1 uda) checkups/emergencies (1.2)/simple clean...you get £9-10
band 2 (3 UDAs) fillings, root canals, extractions..you get £30
band 3 (12 UDAs) crowns, dentures..you get £120
60K a year....so thats 6000 UDAs. Someone with 4-5 years of experience would find that quite tough. Working 5 days a week..you'd need to do about 30 UDAs a day. That would often mean 30+ patients a day. Don't forget you must pay lab fees, tax, professional reg fees/indemnity and NHS pension from that as well. Your take home pay will be less than you think. Ask a dental accountant, they'll say the same.
They're getting rid of the UDA system in the new contract (2013/14) aren't they? Yes, it's not very good, dentists were focusing on quantity, rather than quality because of it.
You won't know what kind of dentist you will be after uni..you might be able to take 45 patients in your stride. However, many many cannot (myself included) and that's why so many newly qualified people hide away in hospital jobs for 3-4 years before reality hits them.
You can say this for any job. Practise makes perfect, obviously it's going to be daunting seeing 40 patients a day, but that's why you do VT, to improve your skills under the guidance of a senior dentist.
The current system works great if everyone just needed 1 thing done. They don't!! English teeth are atrocious and many people need multiple work done. It does depend on the area you work in. But remember you get paid per treatment COURSE not per item. So, you wont get your money until you have done all the fillings, so you can work at a loss. Anyway, I don't wanna bore people with the minutiae of the new contract, you get the picture. Take home message: you'll have to see tons of patients, which doesnt allow you to spend the time you'd like on things and loads of things will have to be done as part of goodwill (ie free of charge). That can get very trying.
Xmb's post about the VT being slow and having a chilled out day made me smile becuase that's exactly how most of us were lol..it's gonna hit like a freight train though when he realises just how much faster he will have to work for 50-60K. The target for VT is 1875 UDAs/year. Most do about 12-1300. That would earn you about £13000/year in a non VT environment. Don't believe what the press say..100K a year...thats probably before you've given 50-55% to the practice owner and then paid all the above expenses. That's assuming you can get full time work and want to do that 5 days a week from 8 til 5.30.
Anyway, positivity time.
1. Dentistry teaches you so many different skills. It's not just about teeth. People skills, practical skills, business management skills. Some of the best friends I ever made were in dental school. Unfortunately, I don't see them much now as we are scattered all over the place.
2. No other career allows you the freedom and autonomy that you have so soon after graduating. You're the boss, you can decide the treatment and you are the head of the dental team in your surgery. What goes on in your surgery is up to you (though you'll have a boss/practice manager to answer to). Most nurses are very good and I would certainly be lost without them. But the rude, lazy ones need to be read the riot act at the earliest opportunity.
3. The course may be long, but the feeling of accomplishment upon completiton is indescribable. If only you could bottle that and sell it!
4. It's arguably the most portable career I can think of. Should you wish, you can work virtually anywhere, except North America. In reality, most rarely venture outside Aus/NZ. Yes, you can work in any EU country, but it's rare as you need to get through the language barrier, labyrinthine beaurocracy and then the task of actually finding someone who will employ you! Incidently, I have heard anecdotally that dentistry is lucrative in Australia, where the whole system is largely private. Don't expect to get a job in central Sydney though...a country town is more realistic.
5. I am a people person. I love talking to people about their jobs, where they come from and the issues of the day. You meet some interesting people especially in central London. The only trouble is you're always looking at the clock so you can't talk for long.
6. It's great helping people overcome their dental anxiety. Most people just need a bit of TLC and they will trust you. If you can master the art of painless injections you're onto a winner! But..almost every patient starts by saying how they don't like dentists and they don't want to be there.
7. If you were able to get a practice (it'll probably be somewhere far from London), you could potentially make a lot of money. You'd need several people working for you. The trouble is, it's not that easy anymore. The greedy corporates have bought so many and practices cost a fortune to buy and maintain. Banks aren't exactly lending enthusiastically now are they?
8. A new contract is supposed to be on its way. No one knows exactly what it'll be like. It might be better. But expect practice owners to take a bigger share of your earnings than ever before. A lot of the proposed changes centre around
health and quality indicators...expect much more paperwork. You'll spend longer typing than with your hands in someone's mouth. There's so many dental graduates around that employers can pick and choose who they want and impose their own conditions. They know you'll have nowhere else to go.
9. In terms of flexibility, it's extremely good. You can easily work part time, have a day off during the week or take holidays. But remember...you don't work, you don't get paid. Many people are part time not through choice but because they
can't find a practice to give them full time work.
10. There are loads of courses and meetings that could help you improve your skills. This also allows you to meet other dentists. But they can be prohibitively expensive and be very theoretical. In my opinion, the best dentists are those who are self taught.
11. Last but not least...Scotland and Northern Ireland still have the pre 2006 NHS system so you don't have to worry about UDAs there!
Like I said, I genuinely want to help. If anyone wants me to write a post on a particular topic..I'm more than happy to do so.