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The Future Leaders Programme: A unique experience

Joshua shares insights on his experiences of the Future Leaders Programme (FLP), and his recommendations to others considering joining it.

Joshua Kennedy 250X250
Joshua Kennedy BDA Student Committee vice-chair and British Dental Students’ Association immediate past president

The FLP is a complex and far-reaching initiative for enthusiastic student dentists. Participants get to experience governance in action with senior committee chairs, take part in face-to-face leadership training in London, and attend informative live webinars.

Valuable experiences on offer

One of the standout aspects of the FLP is being able to experience discussions at various levels within the field of dentistry. You have the chance to gain insights into the ongoing conversations and decision-making processes that shape the profession locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. This exposure broadens understanding and enhances appreciation for the complexity and scope of issues facing the dental community.

Gain insights into the ongoing conversations and decision-making processes that shape the profession

The programme highlights the diverse teams involved in dental governance and their respective roles. This comprehensive view fosters a deeper appreciation for the collaborative efforts required to advance the field. As a participant, I was able to witness firsthand how different committees operate, and the critical contributions of each member.

A significant highlight of my experience was mentorship. I was paired with Roz McMullan, a retired Consultant Orthodontist with a distinguished career in representative work. Roz has extensive involvement in initiatives like Probing Stress in Dentistry NI, which focuses on mental wellbeing in the dental workforce, and DISCREET NI, which aims to establish a Practitioner Health Service in Northern Ireland. As a result of this she provided invaluable insights into the importance of advocacy and support within the profession.

Networking and collaborative learning

In addition to mentorship, the programme facilitates networking with peers and professionals across different institutions. I was paired with a dental student from the University of Dundee. This allowed for enriching discussions about various projects and initiatives from the perspective of a student from another dental school. These conversations were instrumental in broadening my understanding and appreciation of diverse approaches and challenges within dental education and practice.

The programme facilitates networking with peers and professionals across different institutions

As both a final year dental student and the vice-chair of the BDA Students Committee, the programme significantly expanded my awareness of the career opportunities available. It also underscored the crucial role of representative work and the impact it has on shaping the future of the profession. The experience of attending meetings and being involved in my local Northern Ireland branch further reinforced the importance of active participation and advocacy.

Participating in the FLP provided me with invaluable insights into the importance of representative work at various levels. I learned about the diverse avenues for involvement in the dental profession and the significant discussions occurring within the UK and beyond. The programme highlighted the extensive advocacy and representation efforts by the BDA, emphasising the critical role these play in shaping our profession and supporting dental students globally. This experience deepened my understanding of the impact and relevance of collective representation in advancing our field.

In person training opportunities

One of the standout aspects was the in-person leadership training session. It was highly interactive, emphasising teamwork and collaboration, providing a unique opportunity to connect with colleagues from across the 16 UK dental schools, fostering a network of future dental leaders.

The training session focused on the subtleties of leadership and management; a crucial distinction for anyone aspiring to take on a leadership role within the dental profession. We explored various forms of communication and learned when and how to employ each effectively. This was illustrated with examples from elite sports, highlighting the parallels between sporting excellence and excellence in dentistry. Given the critical importance of high-quality communication in dentistry, these lessons were particularly relevant.

The insights I gained from this session have had a lasting impact on my career. The foundational skills and knowledge I acquired have been instrumental in my professional development, enabling me to enhance my communication abilities and leadership approach within my practice. This programme not only enriched my understanding but also provided practical tools that I continue to apply in my day-to-day professional life.

Knowledge for the future

The programme has developed my ability to be an effective team member, and, when the opportunity arises, the confidence to step up as a leader. I learned critical leadership and teamwork skills that are not only applicable in clinical settings but are also vital in any professional environment where collaboration and leadership are key.

In addition to this, I now have a greater understanding of the governance processes within the BDA. By pairing with senior committee chairs and experiencing governance in action, I gained firsthand insight into the intricacies of organisational leadership and representation. This experience is crucial for anyone looking to take on representative roles within the dental profession, ensuring they are well-prepared to advocate effectively for their peers and profession.

This experience is crucial for anyone looking to take on representative roles within the dental profession, ensuring they are well-prepared to advocate effectively for their peers and profession.

Engaging in discussions on current issues facing the dental profession underscores the importance of active involvement from the next generation of dentists. The knowledge gained from these discussions helps future leaders stay informed about critical topics and trends, enabling them to contribute meaningfully to the profession's development.

Engage with your community

This programme offers an invaluable platform for you to immerse yourself in the intricacies of representative roles within the dental profession. By participating in face-to-face leadership training, live webinars, and shadowing senior committee chairs, you gain firsthand experience and insights into the multifaceted responsibilities and skill sets essential for effective governance.

In today's rapidly evolving landscape, numerous critical discussions are shaping the future of dentistry. From advancements in technology to evolving healthcare policies, these conversations profoundly influence the trajectory of our profession.

The Future Leaders Programme presents a unique opportunity for you to not only observe but actively engage in these discussions, empowering you to contribute meaningfully to the discourse and influence the direction of dentistry for generations to come.

Interested in our Future Leaders Programme?

Our Future Leaders Programme offers an unprecedented introduction into the world of dental leadership, providing insider knowledge across various domains such as governance, policy and research, education, PR and media, and more. Applications for the 2024/25 cohort is expected to open for BDA student members in September.