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Do dentists need leadership skills?

Blog Author Harman Chahal

Blog Date 29/03/2017

harman group boston.jpg

Harman with members of the Senior Dental Leaders Program 11 in Boston


Leadership. Do we as dentists need skills in leadership? I think we do. We are leading the team in the surgery we work in. We can be leaders of a practice wide team as practice owners. We can be leaders of oral health as a whole, and the people we choose to represent us, need to know how to operate effectively.

Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Boston to attend the Strategic Dental Leadership programme hosted jointly by King's College London Dental Institute and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.

The week-long programme included participants from all over the world. The aims of the programme are to help provide leadership skills to dental professionals to help improve the oral health of children worldwide. However the skills we learnt from the programme are designed to be completely transferable.

Topics covered included strategic planning, looking for levers to effect change and how to influence and implement change. These sound pretty broad and they necessarily are. But these were not 'facts' we were learning – they are a set of skills that can be applied in situations we might not have considered before.

Clinically, a lot of dentistry may be 'bread and butter' but we often come across situations that we haven't dealt with before, and sometimes, it takes some creative thinking to work out which of your skills you need to apply to the case.

The same applies when are dealing with a range of people in other situations. Whether it's patients, staff members, people from industry, or people from government. We need to ensure policies are enacted that encourage good oral health and that NHS dentistry is not only properly funded, but also structured in a way that provides good preventative care, and effective interventions when needed. Only by being effective leaders can we truly influence change.

 So where can you learn these skills? A good place to start is to find a mentor that can help you build your leadership skills, just in the same way as you would with developing clinical skills. One good opportunity to do this is at the British Dental Conference and Exhibition.

At Conference, the Young Dentists Committee is hosting two sessions (on Thursday 25th and Saturday 27th May), specifically aimed at young dentists and we will be talking about the issues facing the profession, and what you can do to help influence change. We also have a panel of your peers to answer any questions you have about career pathways or top tips on developing your career.

Following the session on Thursday there will also be a free reception for young dentists in the Exhibition Hall to help lubricate your networking opportunities!

I strongly urge all young dentists to come along to the Conference, I guarantee you will meet some interesting people and make new friends. You might find a new mentor, and you never know, along the road you may become the dentist to lead the next big revolution on the nation's oral health.

Harman ChahalHarman Chahal
Chair, BDA Young Dentists Committee

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