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What's it like being... a principal dentist with a passion for dental politics?

Blog Author Robert Zabihi

Blog Date 13/12/2018

Robert Zabihi is the principal at a mixed dental practice in North London. He tells us about his day…




My alarm goes off….

Years of waking up at the same time normally have me waking up before my alarm even goes off! It has become somewhat of a game now to see how close to my alarm I can wake up without giving it a chance to go off. 


On the odd occasion if I have to commute further for meetings or a CPD course, I tend to set it earlier. In the mornings, intermittent fasting normally means I don't have breakfast, which gives me ample time to collect myself for the day ahead.


I'm responsible for...

My primary responsibility is for all the patients at the Pinner Dental Practice in North London.


I am also responsible for the staff at the practice and work closely with them to support their training and education by holding tutorials and mentoring for an apprenticeship in dental nursing.


We have just re-launched the practice, and I have a lot of novel ideas I am looking forward to implementing. 


This is more than just superficial touches, such as renovating our waiting area, but I have recently been working on making the practice entirely digital and paperless, starting with implementing a tablet for medical histories and treatment plans.


I am a representative for GDPs in my borough on the Local Dental Committee (LDC). I have been on this committee for over a year now, and I am responsible for projects on tobacco cessation and environmental sustainability.


As part of my role with the LDC, I sit on the Dental Sustainability Advisory Group, representing general dentist and to make sure that the needs and views of GDPs are taken into account when creating guidelines for the sustainable practice of dentistry.


I got the job!

After I graduated I had an existential crisis in that I thought to myself "I am a dentist. Now what?" 

I felt like I wanted to progress my career and move forward, and yet I did not want to leave general dentistry behind.

Luckily my VT scheme were offering enrolment for a postgraduate certificate in Primary Dental Care, which I continued in, gaining an MSc. 

I had just graduated with my undergrad degree so I felt like I might as well hit the ground running and keep furthering my education. 

I have maintained a steady involvement in the field of primary dental care ever since.


My typical day

As you would expect, most of my day is spent treating patients. 


I have not been in the position of principal for too long, but I have found that I have to find time between the patients to do a lot more for the practice. 


I spend a lot of time on the phone, haggling with materials providers, responding to emails and sorting out the admin.


For instance, just before I answered these questions I had to send off a whole wad of papers to a finance company, in hopes that they will help my practice in offering finance for patients.


My biggest achievement to date

robert-zabihi-napc-awards.jpgI was so delighted to win the 'Newcomer of the Year 2018' award from the National Association of Primary Care' Awards earlier this year.


As dentists, we don't often get a lot of recognition, so I was thrilled to represent dentistry for this national award. 


The worst part of my job…

Definitely the administrative work. It feels like things take ages to get done.


In my previous times as an associate, I always knew there was a lot of admin work to do as a principal. 


But I could never really imagine that it would be this much. Wherever I solve a problem, it feels like I just find another one to occupy my attention. 


Who knows. Maybe it will get better!


The best part of my job..

Seeing results for all your work is the single most motivating and rewarding part of being a dentist. 


Nothing beats seeing a satisfied and happy patient walk out the door!


The same applies to clinical work just as much as it does to any kind of admin.


After work…

Usually after work I head straight to the gym.  I do a lot of exercises, from weight lifting, yoga , running and bouldering. 


I enjoy drawing and painting. I also watch a lot of animation and dabble in video games.


My Plan B

I would absolutely love to be a starving artist!

I love working with my hands and I love the peace of just painting and drawing. I'd be starving because I'd be far too attached to be successful.


robert-zabihi-portrait.jpgRobert Zabihi, Principal Dentist


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