A young dentist’s story of involvement in BDA committees and dental politics.
After graduating I had a great foundation year, but when I moved to another practice for my first associate role, I had an unpleasant experience. This is unfortunately quite a common problem among young associates. I needed help extricating myself from this difficult situation, but thankfully I was a BDA member and so I could access one-to-one advice and support. This experience made me keen to get involved in BDA committee work.
I didn’t want young dentists to face these challenges alone. I wanted to help my peers who were struggling and to be a voice for young dentists within the association, so I joined the BDA Young Dentist Committee (YDC).
Seizing new opportunities
Within a few weeks of being on the YDC, I was speaking to the BDA Board on behalf of young dentists. I outlined our ideas for the Association’s roadmap and our hopes and concerns for the BDA’s future. It was fantastic to be listened to and for our concerns to be taken seriously. It gave me a real insight into how the democratic structure of the BDA works.
“It was fantastic to be listened to and for our concerns to be taken seriously.”
Like this, being involved in BDA committees can be incredibly exciting. I’ve learned a lot. The International Affairs Committee for example has expanded my understanding of how global health is interwoven with health locally. Being involved with the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee (EDIC) has helped me to better understand the pressures and adversities colleagues from various backgrounds face. This has again motivated me further to work to provide support systems across the profession.
In the EDIC, I came in at the ground floor and so have got to be a part of the initial scoping and set up phase. This really showed me how much work goes into getting the mission and work plan of a committee like this mapped out. We’re currently analysing the data of our first major piece of research in this area, which is fantastic. I know now, that if we’d gone off hell for leather in one direction at an earlier stage then this would have risked overlooking groups of people that we are trying to support.
Democracy can take time
“The BDA has set up committees for each area of dentistry.”
It takes time to make real change at scale and so meticulous planning and persistence are key. There’s also a lot more paperwork and admin than you might expect, which can be frustrating at times. I do a lot of community charity work through our Gurdwara, supporting food banks, feeding the homeless and running kids clubs. These local level efforts are easier to organise, there’s a lot of trust and flexibility. With national-level efforts, like those underway at the BDA, there are more people involved and more coordination needed.
I’d like to make big changes – to help younger dentists access advice and support to deal with bullying and micromanaging and to facilitate reputable voluntary positions for dentists abroad, for example. You can’t go it alone with ideas like these, not effectively anyway! That’s why, the BDA has set up committees for each area of dentistry. These committees give you the chance to work with other dentists on the issues that matter to you in a collaborative environment. This makes an excellent change from our otherwise quite solitary profession.
Why get involved?
Looking back at the last four years, I’m pleased to say that I’ve learned a lot and am more confident than ever that getting involved in dental politics – either by voting or nominating yourself for a committee – you can make a huge difference for yourself and the profession.
“It’s easier than ever these days, since online meetings have become the norm.”
The best reason to get involved is because you want to help. If you want to support your colleagues and you can spare some time, putting yourself up for nomination this September will allow you to speak up for the profession and your peers in spaces where a difference can be made. I’d particularly encourage you to consider it if your participation would help to diversify those represented on the committee. Everyone is welcome and it’s easier than ever these days, since online meetings have become the norm.
If you’ve not got the time to join a committee yourself, then mention it to a colleague who might be interested and remember that by voting in October you’re playing a vital role in the democratic process which is at the heart of how the BDA supports dentists.
Find out more about our committees and which ones might be most interesting to you. And keep an eye out for elections updates, because as the BDA’s motto goes, together we are stronger.
General Dental Practitioner