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Dental Therapist and creator of the Smile Revolution podcast series, Victoria Wilson is launching a five-week course which is designed to help dental professionals plan and launch an oral health promotion venture. Here she explains her inspiration and rationale for the launch of this course and who it is likely to benefit most from participating.
Where did the idea of running this series of courses come from?
“As a dental profession we continue to treat the most prevalent preventative disease globally. We have so many amazing clinicians, but are limited in our reach through clinical work alone, staying in clinic and this is exactly why Smile Revolution is running the course, to give clinicians insight into opportunities they can explore and develop.
I have always felt passionate about sharing what I have learnt. More recently we are witnessing a very different landscape where many dental professionals are feeling more insecure, worried and vulnerable. I know many hygienists and therapists who have experienced real financial, mental health and professional challenges, and this really urged me to create this course.
The work conducted by DH and DT in clinic is invaluable and the profession has shown a huge commitment to patient care, as always. I would never under-estimate the value of what is being done in a clinical setting, however, the set up can be somewhat restrictive because of the clinic capacity and number of patients we can reach, and this has been magnified by the public’s reservations of going to the dentist in recent weeks, as well as PPE restrictions which can make treating even more demanding than ever.
With the Smile Revolution and the oral health promotion work that I do, I reach the public outside the clinical setting, and I have discovered so many opportunities, and feel strongly that others could also increase their outreach to support the public’s oral health in different ways by developing their own projects. By being more versatile, and uncovering and exploring other opportunities has the potential of having an even greater impact on the public’s oral health.
The reality is that none of us has been trained in business and, with all the responsibilities of having to keep up to date with the latest regulatory and infection control requirements, learning about the latest clinical advancements, and technological developments, and bearing in mind the increasingly knowledgeable and demanding patient, it may be a daunting prospect to embrace any opportunities beyond our comfort zone, without any business knowledge.
I speak from experience. I stepped out of the clinical setting to create my own pathway and have successfully run Smile Revolution for over two years, but it was not easy and was three to five years in the making, doing a lot of my own research and exploring various avenues before launching. Through our podcasts, we have highlighted the need to develop transferrable skills and have interviewed some amazing people, who were keen to share their learnings and make life easier for existing colleagues and newcomers to the profession. Why reinvent the wheel when there are people out there who can save you time and help you advance faster, to explore new opportunities in parallel to what you are doing in practice? It might not be everything on a plate, but it can definitely fast forward your path
The majority of dental professionals go on into clinics straight from dental schools as to treat patients is the natural next step. These people are also trained to put a teaching plan together to work on school projects, but how many are sustainably doing this? We are very lucky to have the BSDHT and other support organisations which run oral health promotion initiatives, and I can see how enthusiastic people are to absorb the information, but that’s short lived and I feel that people are just dipping their toes instead of using these projects as springboards to extend their scope of practice and earning capacity. I also think it is essential to measure the impact of what you are doing and make it sustainable.
So, at Smile Revolution we have developed a five- week course to help dentists, DH, DT and nurses explore how they can expand their horizons. Everyone has aspirations and ideas, and I want to help them ‘think outside the box’, use their working environment and their skillset to allow them to flourish. It is not easy to work on your own so working collaboratively on the course to develop the right business skills should make a tangible difference. To enable delegates to reach this stage, they will be set specific tasks to work towards, and they will be asked to put together a viable sustainable business module with the elements which we will have discussed throughout the weeks. At the end of the five weeks, they will have learnt how to create a business proposal and will be ready to launch their project.
For delegates who still wish to be further supported and mentored following the course, I will be there for them to continue to move the project forward. I feel it is my duty as a dental professional to help my peers and I am committed throughout this journey. I want them to run a project that is viable, sustainable and has a measurable impact on oral health.
Do you think that everyone has the potential to create a new channel of income? Isn’t it dependent on everyone’s personal business settings?
The pathway for oral promotion is very undefined. Delegates’ projects could be anything they wish them to be - we can then help to hone it and shape it. There may be an opportunity to develop a project under the umbrella of the dental practice, with the dentist and practice owner collaborating if they want to come on board. Alternatively, it could be a scheme within their community using the clinic at the hub. Or it could be a totally separate venture outside the clinical setting. The sky is the limit as to the number of opportunities to uncover, and maybe it is about unleashing the potential of delegates who may not have the confidence to take that leap of faith. There will be walls of resistance and obstacles to overcome, and these need to be seen as part of a process. Smile Revolution is here to empower these individuals and help them find solutions to excel in existing areas and new ones.
Why do attendees need your course and why haven’t they developed promotional project and business opportunities themselves?
Some colleagues have set up charities or programmes designed for schools or the elderly, but I am unaware of any existing courses that incorporate the business aspect of setting up an oral health promotional project Not many DH or DT have stepped out of the clinical setting. So, someone wishing to explore new avenues might find the whole experience scary, and also potentially unachievable. They have to go out there and do their due diligence, further their education and combine a multitude of aspects to build something like this because it is uncharted territory and there is not an obvious pathway which has been defined or outlined in dental school to do this.
Currently there are many clinicians advising on business development but this is mainly about setting up a dental clinic, or focusing on the fundamentals of running a practice. With the new Smile Revolution course, this is about evolving out of the dental clinic and taking a project forward independently as a business entrepreneur. This isn’t like any business courses you would find out there which is why I identified the need for it.
Why do you think that Philips are keen to support you and this project?
Philips has already supported us on numerous occasions. From the very beginning, the company has been hugely invested in dental professionals’ education and it is reassuring that decades later, the company is still providing an amazing level of support. I am so grateful that the company believes in my vision and can see the potential impact of this course for dental professionals. It is hugely encouraging. Members of the Philips education team recently did a podcast on Smile Revolution highlighting the need to develop transferrable skills and how important it is to seize as many opportunities as possible to be able to give yourself the flexibility of a different career pathway. They spoke of the trials and errors and about confidence to get to the stage they have now reached, and this message is exactly what I am trying to convey in this course.
Why do you think that elevating dental professionals to a new business level is important?
This provides an opportunity to work differently with the ultimate aim of support the public’s oral health. We are living one of the greatest times of uncertainty and there is potential for dental professionals to rebuild themselves and find something they are really interested in and different ways of working. The whole process will pay dividends to their overall wellbeing as a dental professional, and as an individual, which is also a huge focus for me. It is about developing new lease of life and if I can help with this, it would make me feel very privileged.”
Discount and Resources Kit
The first four people to register for the course will receive a £700 discount. In addition, because Philips understands the need for resources for health promotion, the company is offering all registrants a resource kit which includes a Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4300, practice posters, recommender pads, clinical study information and patient information leaflets.
For more information about the course, please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/launch-an-oral-health-promotion-project-business-5-week-course-tickets-107758117430
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