Working for a corporate; is it really that bad?
in Working Life
Adele graduated from Newcastle University in 2013 and has been working in general practice ever since. I have written this article to try and give an insight into my experience of working for a dental corporate, which can often be given a bad name.
In recent years the UK has seen a huge increase in the number of dental practices owned by corporates. Mydentist (formerly IDH) alone now owns more than 650 practices, Oasis has over 300 and smaller corporates are gradually increasing their market share.
As a newly qualified dentist I heard many horror stories about the corporate giants. I think the worst was a rumour that one practice had a competitive leader board in the staff room to compare UDA output, reminiscent of something from The Wolf of Wall Street! Not surprisingly, stories like this put me off ever wanting to voluntarily work for a corporate.
However, like many of my peers, I found myself in a situation earlier this year where I was unsure what to do next in my career. A job offer from a corporate suddenly seemed more appealing to me as it was in a good location close to my home town. Although apprehensive, I accepted, safe to say my old principal thought I was making a mistake. I just thought - could it really be as bad as people say?
I have now worked for a corporate for around two months; I am based in two practices in fairly rural towns. The practices couldn't be more different; one has been completely refurbished recently and the other is a small, old fashioned, renovated house. This alone was different to my vision of characterless corporate practices.
I was quite surprised at first to find the practice manager came from a business background and had no dental experience. This was different to my old practice where the manager was one of the more experienced nurses. Although at first I was unsure about this, I have found her management skills and knowledge are a huge benefit to the practice, which we must remember is also a business.
One of my main concerns prior to starting was about time pressure and having to carry out production line dentistry. The corporate I have been working for are implementing a "work smarter not harder" scheme to try and encourage better use of the appointment book, at first all this was very daunting. However, unlike what I expected, I can request the amount of time I feel I need for a treatment and reception will book it in that way. The appointment book is always full - but that is something I generally wouldn't complain about when working with the UDA system!
Another rumour I had heard many a time was about a poor selection of equipment and materials. When I started I found there is a company-wide policy for use of safety-lock syringes. I was impressed that these were in use as I know this is now a recommendation for safer sharps. There were some instruments and materials that weren't available initially, but small items like Endo-z burs were quickly ordered in when requested. In fact, the practice gets an allowance for orders each month, so as long as it is a reasonable request it can often be fulfilled. Sometimes it isn't so easy to do this in an independent practice - depending upon the generosity of your principal!
One of the biggest advantages of working for a corporate has got to be the training and CPD opportunities. Many corporates have their own national training centres and regularly put on high quality courses for free or at a highly discounted rate. Professional development is an important aspect of dentistry, so the corporates ability to provide this gives them a real edge over independent practices.
I am not going to lie to you; working for a corporate does have its drawbacks. My first came with recruitment - going through a team at head office rather than directly speaking to the practice made the recruitment process a lot more complicated than it should have been. I have also heard of others who have had not-so-helpful practice managers, but that could happen in any practice, be it an independent or a corporate.
I would advise any dentist considering a job opportunity at a corporate practice to ignore any myths you may have heard. Go and visit the practice and get a feel for it, although nationally owned the practices themselves (from my own experience) can be completely different, so treat the practice like you would any other. You don't know what something is really like until you've tried it!
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