Career Discontent in Dentistry

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Rodericks’ Alpesh Khetia asks why some dental professionals: “Can't get no satisfaction

We all experience professional dissatisfaction at one point or another – it’s human nature – but once the ratio has shifted from fed-up to feeling jaded, more often than not, it’s very hard to find a way back. It’s at this point that people tend to start looking for a new position, or in desperate circumstances hand in their resignation without having a job to go to. Gone are the days where employees would stay in one role for a large proportion of their professional career. Instead, the average tenure is just 4.6 years – even less for workers aged between 25 and 34 [1]– and this is largely down to job dissatisfaction.

This growing discontent has become particularly apparent in dentistry, with a study by the BDA showing that dentists are almost twice as likely as the general population to feel dissatisfied with life. While there are additional elements that play a role in this, the report found a strong association between levels of job morale and satisfaction and how practitioners rate their personal well-being [2].

Of course, NHS England’s decision of a 1% pay rise for dentists for 2017/18 hasn't helped matters, and key associations have dubbed the news as “a devastating blow”. It’s no secret that feeling underpaid and overworked breeds disaffection, and it’s only going to get worse as austerity continues and pay increases elude NHS dentistry.

Saying that, it’s not always about money; an individual can become disillusioned for any number of reasons. A hostile work environment or bad relationship with a boss is one common source of work dissatisfaction that quite often leads to resignation. Indeed, there’s so much choice out there now that employees no longer need to grin and bear it.

Of equal impact are relationships with co-workers. A friendly face or workplace friend can make all the difference to job satisfaction, not least because healthy relationships help with motivation and morale. A team that works together well also helps to create a more fulfilling and enjoyable work environment, one that staff look forward to being in every day, rather than dreading. All it takes is one person to upset the balance for the workplace to become unpleasant, leading to isolation, loneliness and negativity, and there simply isn’t room for conflict in dentistry – especially as the delivery of patient care is a team effort.

Both these issues can be avoided through team building, regular staff meetings and frequent reviews, which all help to highlight and address any issues in the practice. Dealing with poor management on the other hand isn’t as easy, but steps can be taken to minimise this risk. Carrying out research on the practice or company before an interview, for instance, can help to identify any potential concerns about the workplace environment, as can speaking to colleagues.

Indeed, word of mouth is a powerful tool for drawing out information. While opinion should always be taken objectively, there’s value in drawing on another individual’s experience – be it good or bad.

There’s also the matter of autonomy and independence. No one likes to be micromanaged or have someone breathing down their neck, especially in an already pressurised environment like dentistry. Where controlling management and lack of flexibility are issues, staff are much more likely to become dissatisfied very quickly, forcing them to reconsider their place within the practice.

As for training and career progression, the opportunity to take on a challenge and learn new skills should never be underestimated when it comes to workplace satisfaction. Where this isn’t an option, a job can become boring very quickly – after all, what’s the point in staying in a position where there is no room for growth or development?

The journey towards becoming a dental professional is too long to waste by staying stagnated in one role. There must be development and promotional opportunities – or at the very least, a chance to take a new course or gain additional qualifications. This is certainly the case at Rodericks Dental, where training is provided for all staff. A range of internal and external courses as well as CPD modules are available throughout the year, alongside advice from the supportive management team to ensure that all career aspirations are met across the board.

Discontent can arise as the result of shortcomings, but if you stay true to your goals and find an employer who suits your professional needs you are sure to find job satisfaction.

Author: Alpesh Khetia

Alpesh completed his vocational training in 2000 with the Weston Favell Group of Dental Practices (now known as Rodericks Ltd) and became a director in 2002. Alpesh is involved in the recruitment of new dentists, hygienists, therapists and ensuring their wellbeing while the company grows. He became a Foundation Trainer in 2008 and obtained a certificate in Medical Education in 2012. He also leads a dedicated team that aims to ensure all practices are UDA target compliant.

For more information visit, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call 01604 602491 (option 1) and ask for Christina Regan in the dental recruitment team.

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1] Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employee Tenure Summary. Published 22 September 2016. Accessed online 26 September 2017 at 
2] British Dental Association: Is there a Well-being Gap among UK Dentists. Results from the 2014 Dentists’ Well-being and Working Conditions surveys. February 2015. Accessed online 26 September 2017. Click HERE.