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Dental corporates

Corporate bodies can offer wider opportunities for development and greater security, but they may also be restrictive in terms of loss of control over decisions or more bureaucracy.

Approximately 13% of NHS contracts in England are held by the ten largest corporate providers (2015 – 2016 data). Non-corporate providers hold the majority of contracts and accordingly receive the majority of funds and carry out the larger percentage of treatment. Mydentist is the largest dental corporate in the UK with over 650 practices and 3,000 dentists.

 

Working for a larger dental corporate

Working for a corporate can lead to a rewarding and interesting career, according to a small group of associates who have provided feedback on their experience to the BDA.

 

The larger corporates have expanded quickly and have worked hard to put good systems in place. According to associate feedback, working for a large corporate means that most of the administrative matters are taken care of for the dentist, so they can concentrate on dentistry and where they want to go in their careers.

 

What to consider before accepting a corporate role

However good the reputation of a corporate you are considering working for, check the individual practice you expect to be assigned to carefully. Some practices, even where run by the same corporate, are likely to be better than others. Make sure you are happy with the equipment, the staff and the manager. Try to speak to the other associates at the practice before making a decision.

 

It's vital to check the associate contract provided carefully. Make sure you understand exactly what you are being asked to do. If there are any variations, make sure that they are confirmed in writing. One member cited difficulties when a variation agreed orally at a local level was later disputed by their corporate principal.

 

There may be targets, including targets for private income, but targets are not exclusively the domain of corporate dental practices.

 

Targets will not suit all associates, but the feedback received from associates working in the larger corporates suggests they received support to help generate private income in appropriate circumstances. Our specialist advisors can give you advice on UDA targets.

 

Associates also told us the equipment and materials that were available to them were good, and that in their experience there was sufficient choice. However, it is important to enquire about materials, equipment and laboratory choice when exploring job opportunities.

 

Other considerations

Training opportunities in some of the large corporates have been described as plentiful and discounted, with CPD readily available. Associates who want to specialise may well find that it is easier in a corporate environment and that the corporate will present opportunities for referrals, but specific questions should be asked to establish the opportunities available. Offering flexibility to move to different practices might also increase the likelihood of such opportunities. Whilst associates we spoke to told us that support is usually there when they need it, it became clear that in some instances there was a need to ask for it. The importance of nurturing relationships with the practice manager, area manager and clinical director were also stressed, for those times you may want to make yourself heard.

 

On the downside, if you are an associate at a corporate, you will not be working for a practice owner who may be looking for a successor to buy or become a partner in their practice. It may therefore be a little more difficult to get the experience you want to become a practice owner or to nurture opportunities for practice ownership.

 

Career pathway

In order to work for a dental corporate, graduates must first complete Dental Foundation Training (DFT) or Vocational Training (VT). Upon satisfactory completion they are then able to apply for associate positions in dental corporates across the UK.

 

For foreign dentists, there are alternative routes in.

 

Further information

You can find out more about working for a dental corporate in our Career Guide.