The other way around: what you can learn from the next generation of dentists

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When asked about his career aspirations, Shivam Patel is assertive in outlining his goals: “I would like to be a competent cosmetic dentist, who provides fantastic care to my patients, longevity and aesthetics to their smiles, and who imparts knowledge to other colleagues by running training and courses”. Shivam is a young dentist graduated from Bristol University in 2015. At the moment he works across four different practices, two of which are part of Dentex Health: The Harley Street Smile Clinic and Hockerill Dental. Although his career ambitions in dentistry seem to fit a common mould shared by most of professionals, the next generation of dentists bring something new to the table: social media.    

In a world where social distancing has become an unusual standard, social media is quickly rising as an even more valuable channel of marketing and communication; it’s an easy and cheap tool to keep in contact with patients. Shivam, however, goes further: “Social media is also an amazing platform to be able to see what other clinicians are doing, pick their brains and then research the techniques and technology they may tell you about. Previously, you would not be able to approach a top clinician and find out their techniques, but with social media they are now able to impart knowledge via a direct message.” 

Shivam is right. As a result of the global pandemic, it is expected that social media habits shaped during lockdown will persist into the future. Ofcom’s annual Online Nation report revealed that in April 2020, UK adults spent a daily average of four hours and two minutes online – up from just under three and a half hours in September last year. One in three adults now watch online videos more than traditional TV. Zoom, a video conferencing platform, grew from 659,000 adult internet users in January to 13 million in April. The broad range of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, to name a few, may give you and your practice team a new way of promoting your business offering services, sharing knowledge, communicating with patients, and interacting with your local community.

It is reasonable, however, not to accept the digital world in such a positive light. “It can also have an ugly side,” explains Shivam. “It is very easy to compare yourself to other newly graduated colleagues who may be perceived as more successful than yourself. I believe we need to be confident in our own abilities and not compare ourselves to others. Progress can take time.” Everything can look perfect when you have the right angle and good content – not to mention editing skills and an endless list of filters.

Building a successful social media profile demands time and dedication, so that you can have a consistent brand that continually engages with your community. Dentex Health offers Marketing support to all its practices, helping them create relevant content, develop beautiful and customised artwork, and outline a digital marketing strategy. As a result, practices can showcase their expertise and keep their patients up to date about the latest news and offers. 

Within a dental group, digital tools also play an important role. For Shivam, Dentex have provided a great support, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The practices have had regular Teams calls, and Dentex have hosted some great webinars from the top clinicians in the group, so we could make the best of our free time during lockdown. Even with the drop-in face-to-face meetings and training, we were facilitated to network within the group via video conferences. We are constantly introduced to some of the top clinicians in the country and have access to webinars and teachings from them. We even had virtual quiz nights!”

As a prominent young dentist in the UK, Shivam’s work has been nominated for Restorative Composite Smile Makeover, Restorative Single Tooth Composite, Restorative Ceramic Smile Makeover and Tooth Whitening categories in the 2020 Aesthetic Dentistry awards. He advises: “Try to block out the noise from other colleagues which may not help you progress. Work for a practice for a few years so you can follow up some of your work, find mentors to discuss complex cases with and do as many courses as possible in your areas of interest. Hands-on training will continue to be tricky at the moment, but online courses can be just as powerful, as you can re-watch them multiple times.”

Shivam is a great believer in the value of passing his skills and knowledge onto the next generation of cosmetic dentists. Not only social media and digital channels are good communication tools but they can also be very powerful in spreading knowledge throughout the dental community. If you haven’t considered social media as an active platform for your profile yet, you should add it to your watchlist.

If you’d like to get in touch with Shivam Patel to know more about his experience with Dentex and other topics in dentistry, you can find him on Instagram: @drshivampatel.