What to expect in your career as a Locum Dentist

The National Health Service (NHS) has admirably survived several tumultuous decades and gained a reputation as being one of the largest single-payer healthcare systems in the world. Over the years, the NHS has evolved well beyond all recognition since it treated its first patient in 1948 and continues to gain the trust and certitude of its citizens. 

Today, however, you can see it writhing under a conspicuous burden, one that stems from the chronic shortage of qualified dental professionals drafted to the front line in the NHS.

This grave situation has escalated beyond wits in the post-pandemic era mainly due to the delays in hiring decisions. This resultant pressure on the healthcare system has caused an onus on the overall national economy, in turn putting the dental industry in a dangerous position.

What to expect in your career as a Locum Dentist
What to expect in your career as a Locum Dentist 6

According to hearsay, a large number of foreign dentists are being relied up on to plug these shortages in the UK. However, most of us fail to address the likes of one excellent career choice that is immune to disruptions created by such substantial deficits. Locum dentists are quickly becoming the new mainstay of dentistry.

The dental industry functions much like a high-powered conveyer belt, indefinitely driven by input and output. This is why continuity of service is of the utmost importance in dentistry. This is where locum dentistry acts to feed the ever-gluttonous industry that is dentistry.  

Although this form of part-time work is more commonly known among M.D.s and D.O.s, locum tenens dentistry has expanded tremendously due to the gradual shortage and misdistribution of dental professionals to traditionally underserved and rural areas.

What is a locum tenens dentist?

Locum tenens, a Latin term, means “place holder” but to seasoned dental professionals and patients who count on them, it means so much more. Locum dentists work as temporary personnel that step in and cover shifts for absent dentists caused by vacations, vacancies, or unexpected illnesses. 

In other words, a locum dentist fulfils the duties of another dentist when they are gone. By doing so, the work is not hampered and the production is maintained at similar levels, thus keeping the practice vibrant even in the absence of the regular dentist. These placements can last anywhere between one day and up to a year.

A locum dentist is typically registered to come locum service and are still governed by them, despite the transient and freelance nature of their job description.

What does it take to be a locum dentist?

You should be aware of the upsides and downsides of living your life as a locum dentist before you make the leap into this challenging yet rewarding career.

Get used to travelling

A common trait of this field is travel. Lots of it. Do you consider yourself a homebody? In that case, taking up a career as a locum dentist may not be the best decision. Most travelling dentists are on the road for months on end and maybe gone away from home for a majority of the year. This can be hectic for a lot of people but is also one of the perks of this profession.

Travelling exposes you to many unique opportunities which can become determining factors for your career. Locum dentistry, then, is ideal for those with fewer family ties. 

Additionally, most of the companies who will hire you as a travelling dentist often also pay for your travel expenses and accommodations for the duration of your contract. This is a great incentive for you to save money while you work.

Be disciplined

Most people think that working for themselves is as easy as taking a walk in the park. However, travelling multiple times a week from your current geographical area to work may not be anyone’s definition of a vacation, not to mention the overwhelming nature of this field. Generally, you’ll have to keep yourself more motivated and take your work ethics more seriously.

With all the other locum tenens dentists out there, you’ll have to work to sharpen your competitive edge. Consistently procrastinating your schedules of travel dental appointments can be the last element to cause your work to crash and burn. 

Additionally, if you’re always late for appointments or have gained a reputation for not completing your work on time, you’ll find it difficult to land a job as a travelling dentist.

Continue your dental education whenever possible and stay in touch with the latest dental trends to help you stay relevant in the market.

Licensing may be different in different areas

If you’re a stranger to the world of locum dentistry, you will have to bear in mind that each area is different in regards to its licensing requirements. Be sure to do your homework and learn the mechanisms of that area. Researching beforehand on the rules, laws, and regulations you’ll need to abide by before heading off to your destination can save you a lot of time and hassle.

In other cases, the staffing agencies you register with will be taking care of the licenses they need. 

Don’t settle for any job

Desperation can push you to your limits. In the highly competitive world of locum dentistry, you will have the freedom to choose the job best suited for you. This can also mean that the decision can often push you to take any job that is available to you, especially when you’re a newcomer. However, it is best to know your value and stick to it. Weigh your options dearly and you’ll surely be able to get top dollar for it, plus your clients will respect you for it.

Be ready for flexibility and freedom

Working as a locum allows you to indulge in a level of flexibility and freedom that you simply cannot get with other types of contracts. You choose where you work, when you work, and to a certain extent, how you work. 

This, however, can also mean that you need to prepare your lifestyle to accommodate out-of-work conditions for some parts of the year. Align your finances in a manner where you can sustain even though you do not get hired.

Financial independence

Locum dentist jobs offer not only excellent pay rates but also many lucrative referral bonuses as some of its added attractions. It doesn’t matter if you’re after short-term positions or year-long contracts because regardless, you can look forward to being well-rewarded with higher rates of pay. However, you’ll also need to prepare your work itinerary around financial crunches.

Final thoughts

Naturally, as you can expect, locum dentistry isn’t for everyone. Although this profession is charged with numerous benefits, it can also be slow at times. Having said that, if you’re able to effectively manage your professional career as a locum dentist, it can allow you an experience of a lifetime. 

Indeed, we do not need to venture far from land to locate a national treasure when we have the aspect of locum dentistry right under our noses.

If you are a recently qualified Associate or experienced Dentist considering a Locum or permanent move, Dentex Health are a fantastic place to develop your career.  Since inception in 2014, Dentex Health has collaborated with a substantial number of successful dental practices across the UK and are on track to achieve 150 partner practices by 2022. Working for Dentex, you will join a collective of practices with a mutual interest in seeing the group grow and thrive.  If you are interested in working at Dentex Health please check out their current vacancies at https://careers.dentex.group