Dentists have always had a responsibility to remain at the forefront of their profession by ensuring their knowledge and skills are up to date. This was further underlined by the General Dental Council in June when the regulator announced the launch of its ‘enhanced continuous professional development’ (ECPD) programme.
ECPD, which will represent a longer-term reform of the current continuous professional development (CPD) training model, will come into force in January 2018 for dentists and August 2018 for dental care professionals. Dentists will have to complete 100 hours of verifiable CPD over a five-year period. Hygienists, dental therapists, clinical dental technicians and orthodontic therapists must complete 75 hours over the same timeframe, reducing to 50 hours for dental nurses and dental technicians.
Furthermore, it will be mandatory for dental professionals to make an annual declaration of the amount of activity they have completed. This must amount to a minimum of 10 hours CPD over two consecutive years with the added stipulation that every dental professional is required to have a personal development plan in place.
Modern dentistry has evolved into a fast-paced digital age, influenced by rapid advancements in technology which is revolutionising services to patients. 3D printers can now produce highly accurate dental and orthodontic models, as well as castable crowns, bridges and partial denture frameworks in minutes rather than days. Furthermore, advanced computer-aided design (CAD) software can display scanned images of teeth for patients to view instantly and then drive a milling machine to fabricate a crown in the same room, transforming efficiency.
‘It will be mandatory for dental professionals to make an annual declaration of the amount of activity they have completed. This must amount to a minimum of 10 hours CPD over two consecutive years with the added stipulation that every dental professional is required to have a personal development plan in place.’
According to research compiled by the Eastman Dental Institute at University College London, incorporating new technology into a dental practice can provide a strong return on investment. For example, it is estimated that the digital cost of using a 3D scanner for a restoration can be as little as £21 compared to the £200 for conventional impression materials and laboratory technician work. Can you afford for your career to get left behind by not keeping up with these significant and evolving treatments?
Despite the obvious need to maintain the highest standards of patient care and support, the ongoing costs associated with training and development can soon add up. Some dentists may find it beneficial to take out a personal loan to spread the cost of paying for training and development fees. However, always be mindful of tempting offers and check the small print as the lowest rate is not always the best option.
‘It’s important to explore which funding option is right for you.’
Look out for any arrangement fees, which will make a loan more expensive. It’s also important to ensure you include them when working out how much the loan is going to cost you. Arrangement fees will be included in the APR (annual percentage rate of charge) – which is why you should compare APRs rather than interest rates. Some specialist providers of personal loans to dentists, such as Wesleyan Bank, may adopt a different lending criteria by taking into consideration an individual’s professional status. As always, it’s important to explore which funding option is right for you.
The increase in the number of verifiable CPD hours may not be to the preference of some dentists. But ambitious dental practitioners, particularly those working in private practices, may reason that there has never been a better time to focus on training to grow their practice’s profitability and patient numbers amid greater levels of competition.