Amit Patel explains the importance of having a mentor.
Dental implantology can be an equally exciting and daunting field to enter. Providing this care can be incredibly rewarding; patients can achieve brilliant results that restore confidence and function to everyday life, significantly improving aspects ranging from socialisation to simply eating.
Newly qualified professionals may not know how best to begin their journey into dental implant care. One study found that implantology was only taught for 11 hours on average throughout an undergraduate course at a UK dental school. This could make pathways into the field, and implantology in general, seem difficult to traverse. With a clear vision and the people to help you accomplish it, this doesn’t have to be the case.
You may feel that dental implantology is your calling; perhaps in your early experiences in the field, or while attaining your qualifications, you developed an interest in the area. It’s hard not to, especially with its rapid growth and importance in modern dentistry. Plus, experts in implantology are in overwhelming agreement that patient demand will likely only increase in the coming years, especially for single-tooth treatments.
When looking at the field and the myriad of opportunities in front of you, it may seem that there is so much to accomplish. Before your first steps, consider what has led you to this point – why do you want to dive into implantology? What is it about dental implants that intrigues you most? From questions like these, you could derive some motivators which can turn into tangible targets.
Perhaps you want to expand your treatment offerings, or you enjoy oral surgery and wish to concentrate your skills in the discipline for the future. Creating goals for yourself can help to propel the beginning of your career onto a path that is equally focused and fulfilling, and could increase your job satisfaction in the years to come.
A dental career isn’t a journey travelled alone. Creating connections with professionals can help you advance your clinical knowledge and have people to turn to for advice when you need it most.
By connecting with established clinicians, you could discover potential opportunities that grow your hands-on experience. A mentoring relationship can be especially beneficial. Mentors can help individuals acclimatise to a workplace, reach their professional potentials and grow networks further.
A mentor could be someone you meet in person or at a training event. Alternatively, the relationship could come about through a dedicated mentoring programme designed to bring together professionals at a variety of career stages. You could even find a mentor online, though trusted social media groups that unite clinicians with common ideals.
Mentoring agreements work best when they are well organised. Ensure you’re working with a trusted and qualified professional, and collaboratively discuss the long-term aims for your development. A clear vision for the collaboration allows both parties to have similar expectations of the learning outcomes and timeline involved.
Preparing for the future
So, you’ve got your targets, and you’ve built a network within dental implantology to help your clinical career blossom. Both of these actions are forward thinking; the investment of time and energy now could sow the seeds for rewards five, 10, 15 years down the line.
It’s just as important to consider what dental implant care will look like at this time, and how you can best set yourself up for it. Increasingly, dental workflows are becoming more digitised. In implantology, intraoral scanners provide new data collection solutions, and specialised software can aid the development of complex treatment plans. A simplified surgical approach can be combined with a new ease of communication between professionals.
Taking part in training events and courses could be an excellent way to keep up to date with the latest developments in the field. These opportunities can help you immediately in your day-to-day practice, and can create a base to build on for future learning.
Finding a community
Newly qualified dentists have an unlimited horizon of opportunities in front of them. Becoming a member of the Association of Dental Implantology (ADI) helps new clinicians focus their aims, and provides pathways to greater experiences in the field. The First Five Years membership is free for the initial two years after your GDC registration, and available at a 50 per cent discount for the following three, providing you with access ADI Study Clubs, a Members’ Only Facebook Group and discounted rates for ADI Masterclasses. The ADI has demonstrated its commitment to the future of implant dentistry by establishing the Next Gen Committee, connecting and educating new professionals who are new to the field.
Finding a focus within your love for dentistry can help you find a motivation for the short and long term and could guide your career for the future. By being amongst a network of excellent professionals and pushing yourself to improve, you could have a rewarding and fruitful future in implant dentistry.
For more information visit www.adi.org.uk