It’s hard to recruit the right dentist. Maybe that’s because recruitment is a tricky business. But something strange has happened since I wrote Moonwalking For Dentists in 2014. That book set the scene for all the upheaval we’ve seen in the dental sector over the past five years with 16 agents of change. Number one was oversupply of clinicians.
That was true then. In 2014 there were 51,000 dental practitioners (all kinds of dentists) in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics. By 2018 that number had dropped to 35,000 (the number of dentists employed in the UK remained static at about 35,000).
How to explain this 31 per cent drop? The number of new dentists working in the UK fell from 2,571 in 2015 to 1,999 in 2018 — that’s a drop of more than 22 per cent. Most of that reduction was from a fall in the number of dentists in training here. It’s thought that cutbacks in training places and falling pay for dentists were putting off recruits.
So what accounts for the rest of the drop? A variety of factors have been suggested that include the looming Brexit deadline, poor workforce planning, low morale, contract obligations and rising student debt.
Many dentists have left the profession early after a miserable experience in the NHS, where recruitment is hardest. A BDA survey published in October 2017 showed almost 58 per cent of NHS dentists were planning to leave the health service in the next five years. Almost one in 10 of those under 35 said they planned to quit dentistry altogether, with a similar number hoping to move overseas.
What does this all mean for practice owners? Recruiting the right clinical team shouldn’t be left to chance. Apart from a slick advertising and interviewing process (which we can run for you) it helps if your practice profile is attractive to dentists as well as patients. Your branding and the clarity of your marketing positioning helps. Get in touch if you’d like to know more.