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Innovating for the Future: Clyde Munro’s Year of Learning & Development

Fiona Wood, Chief Operating Officer, discusses the ongoing challenges facing the industry and the group's futureproofing plans.

Published: 19 April 2023

The recent news of BUPA’s imminent departure from dental practices across the UK has provided a sense of focus for the sector to address the ongoing skills shortage many dental practices currently face.

The major private healthcare group has cited dentist recruitment as one of the main challenges it faced leading up to its decision to close 85 practices. This insight comes as little surprise given the overarching struggle to recruit dentists across the UK – a pain point being felt by both professionals and patients alike throughout the country.

To futureproof our industry, we need to take action. We need to commit to nurturing the talent we do have, and inspiring young dentists and aspiring healthcare professionals to choose a career in dental care.

As a sector, we need to be more proactive in helping young dentists navigate their early career paths, and work hard to retain the many, many excellent dentists we already have within Scotland.

A recent study shows 34% of dentists plan to change career or seek early retirement in the coming year.  This is a figure that the sector needs to address now before the already stretched teams at local dental practices start feeling the pinch, even further.

How can we do this? I believe the answer is in innovation and creating a learning environment that develops best in class professionals. We can improve our NHS and private dentistry in Scotland by providing world-leading training and access to specialists, being at the forefront of the digital dentistry revolution and offering the best in technique and technology to our clinicians and support teams, and of course, to our patients.

Testament to our approach, 2023 has been coined Clyde Munro’s Year of Learning and Development, during which we will set out to positively impact the ongoing recruitment and retention issues across the sector.

However, this will only be possible with the appropriate investment in skills development and training. Additionally, we need to bring world-leading technology and digital dentistry to the ambitious and passionate dentists of Scotland, ensuring they are less likely to look to other countries in order to progress.

Underlining our commitment to plugging the skills gap, Clyde Munro has committed to prioritising the retention of world-class dentists within Scotland through our Perth-based Advanced Dentistry and Clinical Skills Centre.

The million-pound investment facility is one of many solutions Clyde Munro is embarking on in a bid to increase dentist recruitment and importantly, upskill and retain those we do already have. We are doing this through our academy, providing virtual training opportunities with world-class specialists, and classes for practical skills development with our nine simulator ‘phantom head’ stations and industry-leading technology including a dental CBCT, Intra Oral Scanners, state of the art surgery, milling and printing technology, allowing visitors to experience the most up to date in digital workflow.

Not only do we need to be offering dentists the best skills development and equipment, but we need to work with young dentists a lot more closely to support them on the transition from university to employment.

Burnout and stress in our sector is just as real an issue as it is for many other industries and to keep young talent within our business, and more generally in the sector, we must ensure they receive appropriate care and support early in their careers. The British Dentistry Association (BDA) recently cited a ‘larger than usual’ decrease in the number of dental graduates accepting foundation training places signalling a widespread issue for young dentists that needs to be addressed.

At Clyde Munro, we do this through a newly launched programme called Flying Start which provides young dentists with practical career, finance and business advice and guidance, as well as dental skills development. In addition, the close network created by this programme provides a supportive group able to help and coach each other as their careers develop over the years.

Recruiting dentists into the sector is very much at the fore of our thinking at Clyde Munro. We will continue to position ourselves, and dentistry, as an attractive career option, with a desirable work-life balance and benefits package.

Our industry needs a sector-wide futureproofing plan. Our custom-built Academy may be a considerable milestone for our Group but we also see it as a critical initiative for the sector as a whole, helping the industry with the retention and recruitment of dentists in Scotland.

We are committed to providing quality and consistent NHS services and private services and ultimately improving the patient care journey.  We aim to alleviate the need to travel long distances for treatment and having long wait times. I hope to work with our colleagues and sector counterparts to address the shortage of dentists and to improve the care we provide to all of the people across Scotland.