A day in the life… of a private dentist

Rebecca IngledewRebecca Ingledew is a Lead Dentist working within Portman Dental. Here, she describes an average day in her life…

I work as a general dentist with a special interest in advanced restorative dentistry including indirect restorations and restoration on implants. I deliver wholly private dental care. Alongside treatment, I of course provide a combination of examinations, preventative advice and treatment planning discussions. I spend an average of 30 minutes per routine dental examination and most of my treatment appointments are a minimum of one hour. A normal day will involve on average 10-12 patients.

For new patients, it is my responsibility to conduct a very detailed and comprehensive first examination, detailing all my observations tooth by tooth. I will then recall and update details at each review examination, noting and explaining any changes and consequent action that is required (or not). I have a holistic approach to ‘whole mouth’ dentistry and will always consider the best long-term outcome for the patient. I work with the philosophy that I try to provide what I would wish for in my mouth or for a member of my family.

I have worked in various independent and corporate dental practices. I started out with a hospital career, honestly being a little scathing of general practice. My sporting ambitions meant that I needed something a little more flexible and so I moved into general practice ‘temporarily’ – and have loved it ever since.

I really enjoy developing relationships with long-standing patients and I have now worked in the same region with most of the same people for nearly 20 years. After my VT years and a brief stint working in an NHS practice, I was lucky enough to be one of the first recruits in Boots Dentalcare. I had fabulous private dentistry training in an optimal environment and had opportunities that would never be possible in today’s competitive market. I had one-to-one training alongside some of the best specialists in this country and they helped shape my practising beliefs and approaches to patient care.

After its dissolution I felt it was time to go it alone and set up a squat private practice in 2006. We grew rapidly and soon had a thriving bespoke general and specialist referral practice offering all aspects of specialist services in-house. I loved being able to offer my patients high-end specialist treatment in my own practice.

In 2009 we were approached by a group and were fortunate to become the very first “Portman Dental” dental practice. We are now part of an ever-expanding group of like-minded, high-end private practices.

The move back into a corporate environment was not taken lightly as I was well aware of the advantages and disadvantages of that world. I felt at the time that the group shared my professional values and it turned out to be exactly the right step for me.

My joining the corporate world coincided with the implementation of CQC and more regulation. We had always operated to high standards but it was nice for someone else to be responsible for the administration and monitoring of such things, particularly during a period of change. Ensuring compliance requires a huge amount of time and I wanted to be able to concentrate on what I had trained for – looking after my patients. Relinquishing the responsibility has allowed me to focus much more on my patients and less on the day-to-day running of the practice.

Having said that, as I still maintain a principal role, I can offer my suggestions and input within the practice where Portman Dental or I feel it is necessary. I am also still involved in the recruitment of all the staff, as this is critical to maintaining a high standard of patient care. In addition, I contribute regularly to mentoring and staff development.

My corporate experiences have, therefore, only been positive ones. Yes there is the small frustration that there are ‘processes’ to adhere to and sometimes a time delay in things happening. However, these generally are good at focusing the mind and the processes are all there to protect the patients and the professional team.

I have also found that as a practitioner, I have complete clinical freedom to choose my own laboratory and materials, with no restrictions at all. I never make choices for my patients that I wouldn’t have made when it was my own practice. I also do not work to financial targets and the group is supportive of my clinical and professional development. We have regular clinical and non-clinical meetings with others from the group, which allow me to meet and share experience with my peers. This ensures I have a fantastic network of highly skilled specialists with which to share ideas and experiences with.