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Portfolio career

Many dentists are now working as a GDP some days with more specialised care on others, and/or teaching and training alongside their clinical work.

​Some more recently-qualified dentists are looking beyond their clinical work, often outside of dentistry completely, for a portfolio career that combines dentistry with their other interests.


Dentistry means you can have a more stable and relatively well-paid job a few days a week, and do something completely different the rest of your time.


The pros

1. Variety
Some people feel they enjoy clinical dentistry but not five days a week, every week. Others feel having a range of options offers more security than having all your eggs in one basket. Splitting the week up may keep you motivated and engaged for longer.


2. Control over your time
Working on a freelance or consultancy basis can give you more control over your own time. This is great if you want the flexibility to work around child care or a challenging commute. Even without those incentives, being in charge of your time is a real bonus.


3. A testing ground
A portfolio career gives you an insight into career change opportunities, while making sure you still have something more stable to fall back on. You get to try doing the things you really want to do, whether that's related to dentistry or not.


The cons

1. Time management
Time management is everything in a portfolio career. It should not mean working quicker to hit your multiple deadlines. It means learning what to accept and what to turn down.


2. Needing to clone yourself

It can be particularly difficult if your portfolio career means being employed across a number of organisations. Doing 50 per cent of a working week in two organisations will often need considerably more than 100 per cent of that working week.


3. Juggling competing priorities
When all your work is for the same organisation, it's easier to negotiate when you're over committed.

That goes for for clinical time, targets and project deadlines or simply being where you need to be.

But with separate interests asking for more time for one interest is essentially telling the other that it's a lower priority, and you could quickly find yourself with a very slim portfolio.


Dentistry as a career: finding the right balance

Finding the balance that is right for you and your career is essential.


Embarking on a portfolio career usually means a period of uncertainty, at least initially. A portfolio career presents a real opportunity to accept that uncertainty and make it work for you.


If you're not sure where to start, ask any dentist doing 'something else' how they got started. Go along to your local BDA branch or section meeting and network, you'll find people there doing a range of different roles and career pathways, who will be very willing to talk to you!