Strength in numbers – BACD

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  Posted by: The Probe      6th February 2018

How do you ease the stress of busy practice life? Whatever stage you’re at in your career – fresh-faced as a DF1, or with a decade of experience under your belt – you’ll be juggling personal commitments, trying to keep up-to-date with CPD, training… this list barely scratches the surface.

We hear about the emotional benefits of taking “me time”; conversely, a good support network is also a great stress-buster. Since time immemorial, humans have had an inherent wish to belong, to be an accepted member of a group. In 2016, a study looked at the correlation between a sense of belonging and perceived stress levels among nursing students.[i] The results supported the concept of belonging as a fundamental need, “having a positive influence and impact on students’ learning, motivation and confidence”.

You may consider the most important things you “belong” to are your family and friends. You may be a member of a gym or golf club, or be part of a group based around another hobby or interest. Your sense of belonging and identity may be deeply intertwined with your religious or spiritual affiliation. On a social level, then, we seek out people who are similar to us and to whom we can relate. Feeling understood and accepted makes us feel good about ourselves, which is comforting when the going gets tough in practice.

Of course, we are all also members of the wider dental community. We go online to make social connections; social media is now also a source of valuable professional affinities. Modern ways of communicating using platforms like Twitter and Facebook have changed the rules of engagement forever. With just a few clicks you can make new contacts and use forums to talk with colleagues around the world.

However, there is an important physical element to being a member of something – the idea of turning up, representing and being active in support – which an online community cannot give on its own. We do all belong to the wider dental family, but when we have back-to-back appointments, that family can seem more like a distant aunt we only see at Christmas! Social media and online networks have their (very important) place, but there are unquantifiable merits in connecting with people face-to-face.

To enhance that sense of belonging, maybe it’s time to consider membership of a different kind of peer network; one that offers an established support system, educational opportunities and the chance to meet with fellow members. The great thing about a professional academy is that in bringing together clinicians who want to maintain standards and promote their field, it will be joining together many different perspectives and points of view under one all-inclusive umbrella. With practice life often being isolating as well as stressful, it is easy to miss out on ideas and new, inspirational approaches or techniques that could really transform your work. A good professional academy will thrive on education and debate that is both informative as well as challenging. The problem with social media networks is that we often seek out people who think the same way as us because we either want to avoid conflict, or the medium does not allow nuanced discussion. Being challenged to look outside your comfort zone and consider what could be possible if you adjusted your thinking can have a significant impact on patient services. Whether you are new to dentistry or not, there is always something to learn.

Look for an academy that offers live educational and networking opportunities, in the form of meetings, study clubs, conferences and the like. There really is no better way to feel a part of the industry than being in a room with fellow professionals, listening to an expert speaker and being inspired by what you hear. There is no substitute for being able to ask questions, or get your hands on a product or material, or try a new technique for yourself. The British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) is one of the most successful and established names in dentistry and prides itself on the high-quality educational opportunities it offers its members. Cost-effective and relevant, its programme of events is just one benefit, alongside a support system that will enhance both your credibility and the standards of care you offer.

Strength in numbers is a familiar concept – when like-minded people come together, good things happen. When you feel like you belong, you also feel that your voice is being heard. The idea of belonging, that you are a real part of something, can be a source of great pride as well as support. Membership of a professional academy will not only enrich your practice life and help you expand your network, but in doing so can offer you a greater focus and sense of confidence in what you do.

 

For further enquiries about the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry visit www.bacd.com

 

[i] Grobecker PA. A sense of belonging and perceived stress among baccalaureate nursing students in clinical placements. Nurse Education Today. 2016 Jan 31; 36: 178-83.

 


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