Dentists: Own your future! Positive action can protect your career and sense of wellbeing
There are words and phrases that we were hoping to hear less of this year, “unprecedented” and “tough times” are two examples that spring to mind. Now being applied to rapidly-rising inflation and the economy in general, many of us are wondering what we can rely on, for any degree of certainty now, and in the months ahead.
Dentistry in the headlines
Along with everything else that seems pretty bleak at the moment, dentistry itself was the subject of negative headlines this summer, with reports of how millions are finding it impossible to access NHS services, let alone afford private treatment. Even for regulars, the spiralling cost of living is likely to mean that more people cancel routine check-ups to save money, allowing disease to progress undetected and unchecked.
One knock-on effect you may have seen already is an increased number of patients who are unhappy with the service they are receiving. Many will be frustrated by waiting times and wanting answers, especially if they believe the delay led to a problem getting worse. Fear of a complaint or claim has long been a source of stress for professionals, and when combined with the grim outlook predicted for all of us by the end of the year and beyond, are we heading for (another) perfect storm?
Don’t give yourself sleepless nights about the “what ifs?”. Now is the perfect time to be proactive and positive, and take steps to find more peace of mind now. Think about what you can take ownership of rather than circumstances out of anyone’s control.
Finding reassurance in a period of great uncertainty
As a dentist, you want to do your best for every patient and enjoy your work – but you also have a livelihood to protect. If a complaint or claim is made against you, you need to know who to turn to, the person who will be your side when you need them. As we enter a period of great uncertainty, finding these spaces of reassurance and security will be more important than ever for your mental wellbeing.
One thing to do is to review your dental indemnity and, if necessary, switch to a provider that has the kind of tailored, comprehensive cover you need and deserve. As with other kinds of insurance, inadequate cover can mean no end of hassle, as well as financial and emotional repercussions. Dentistry is ever-changing; maybe you now deliver implant therapies, for example, something you weren’t doing when you took out your policy.
Extreme stress has physical symptoms, such as headaches, and difficulty concentrating even burnout. With the claims process typically taking a long time to reach an outcome, it is not uncommon for a dentist to feel unable to work until their matter has been resolved. But even if the end result favours them, some find the experience so overwhelming they reconsider their entire career path anyway.
Good quality indemnity can help
Take control by learning about indemnity. Don’t fall down an internet rabbit hole of information overload, seek out specialist providers who can tell you, clearly and concisely, what they offer and the factors to consider when making the right choice for you. If you’re confused by ‘discretionary’ and ‘contractual’ cover, ask for each term to be broken down, so you understand how these policies perform when applied to any number of scenarios. To put it briefly, discretionary policy providers, such as Mutual Defence Organisations, are under no legal obligation to cover the cost of a claim. In contrast, contractual cover is a legally-binding contract to pay out for successful claims, with providers regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Policies offering contract certainty are far from inflexible, they can be broad and inclusive – ideal for dental claims, which are often complex.
The most important thing is that your provider they will be there when you need them, with a reliable, high-quality service. Consider often overlooked, but crucial, basics such as receiving a knowledgeable, courteous and kind response when you make an initial enquiry. This will give you confidence that any matter will be dealt with in a positive way, by a team who appreciates every unique situation and doesn’t see you as ‘just’ another claim. Added value is key too, to ensure the service you’re getting is pragmatic and fit for purpose during challenging times (and good ones, too!).
Howden is a leading insurance and indemnity provider with tailored policies for dental professionals and practices. Offering protection and support when you need it most. Added value comes with a 24/7 medicolegal helpline and mental wellbeing helpline, for advice or if you just want to vent to someone. Whatever it is that is worrying you, no problem is ever too small to talk through.
It may seem there is much to worry about right now, but when you think positively and act proactively, you can find your focus and mitigate some of the elements of stress. The choice you make for your dental indemnity is something you can control, so choose a provider that offers the best protection for your livelihood and wellbeing, and a sense of security now and in the future.