My 5 Titbits of Advice for Clinical Career Development: Part One

*Disclaimer* Before I get into the content of this post; I want to make it clear I don’t profess to know all the answers, I acknowledge I am early in my career but these are the things I feel have allowed me to progress so far. Learning and development is a lifelong journey and I am at the base of the mountain of what I would like to achieve, especially considering I am likely to be working for another 38 years, at least, based on the current UK pension age! I am wishing to share with you all, especially those just at the start of their clinical careers, what I wish I knew 7 years ago. So here is the first of 5 things I think are essential for clinicians today to develop the careers they want.

1) Self-Belief

This is something I have struggled with since day one and I don’t think comes easily. However if you wish to achieve something; you have to believe you can do it or else you never will. If you want to be a Restorative Consultant, the next big Implant Surgeon or have your own business in Facial Aesthetics; you have to believe it is possible and that you can do it because if you put your mind to it, it is absolutely possible. Negative mindset isn’t always easy to overcome and especially here in the UK I think we are culturally programmed to talk ourselves down.

This is something I have battled with since starting university. I found it hard to ever believe I’d have the ability to complete the degree and graduate, never mind what came after that. (I actually didn’t realise that completing my degree was the start of my career journey rather than the end goal). However, I was able to graduate and finally have the job I wanted after years of studying towards it.

Following that comes Foundation Year and starting to work in clinical practice. That is hard enough to navigate without having to think about what steps to take when that is over! Once dentists complete that, unless they carry on the secondary care pathway; they are on their own to decide their future. I found this extremely daunting. My whole life up until that point had a plan. Nursery into Primary School into Secondary School into University into Foundation Year, now what? Where was I going to go now? To be honest; I spent a few years lost, just plugging along, not really sure where to go. The important thing to note is that is ok and perfectly normal and I don’t think I am alone in having gone through that. However there came a point where I realised I wanted to do something with my career and that’s when I decided to take action.

I took time to decide what I loved about my job (and what I didn’t love) and how I could spend more time doing what I wanted to do rather than what I had to do. I spent a lot of time thinking I couldn’t afford to take the plunge and do a course, that I wasn’t good enough to do one. Eventually, I drummed up the courage to book a Toxin & Filler course as I had always been interested in the Facial Aesthetics industry and had followed clinicians like Dr Elle Reid and had been inspired about how she had worked to have the career she wanted. I just needed to believe I could do this too and I started to!

I was and am very lucky to have the support of my practice & {my}dentist generally in helping me to achieve the goals I want to. {my}dentist has such a large network of clinicians and it was great to see examples of other amazing clinicians developing within the company. There is a great ethos of career development within {my}dentist; they believe in you which in turns helps you to believe in yourself.

Unless you think you can, you never will and I can’t emphasise the importance of believing in yourself to be able to progress; personally & professionally.

Stay tuned for Part Two..