Corporate and Independent Contracts: The Probe

Deciding between a corporate or independent practice, private or NHS, permanent or locum position and general or specialist role. Take paediatrics for example. If you’ve got an interest in this specialist pathway and have relevant experience, why not consider applying for a paediatric dentist position? While some practices will specify that dentists need to have a postgraduate degree and specialist training, others will consider you on the premise of interest and experience alone.

Don’t fall into the habit of undertaking a permanent position in a general practice and forget that there are other options available. If you stay open minded – and up-to-date – about available roles, you might find that exciting opportunities present themselves.

Have You Considered Working As A Locum?

For instance, were you aware that there is a shortage of locum dentists in the current market? Perhaps you remain unsure whether you qualify for certain roles? Essentially, any qualified dentist can go for both permanent and locum general practitioner roles; it’s just a case of being flexible. If you are able to work short-term contracts, then you might find that multiple practices are willing to take you on. With the contract year drawing to a close at the end of March, now is an especially good time to find locum work – and the benefits might surprise you.

Because practices are competing against each other and the market is crying out for locum dentists, employers are offering a flat day rate anywhere between £350 and £400 or even £500. In an effort to entice dentists into these locum roles, many practices will also contribute a hotel and travel allowance – for those that need to stay away from home – and are willing to omit any commitment to Units of Dental Activity (UDA) targets. Indeed, a practice would prefer to have someone working in this way than get penalised for not achieving their targets at the end of the year.

Whether you are looking for a short-term contract or part-time hours, which might be a favourable option for parents with young children or dentists looking to reduce their hours, locum roles are ideal.


It is also important to remember that dentist roles are not confined to the dental practice. When you choose to work in the community, for instance, there are a number of vacancies available, and as long as you are registered with the General Dental Council, you don’t need a performer number. By exploring positions such as working on a community dental bus or going into schools to educate students on the importance of oral health, you could find yourself in a role that is enjoyable, rewarding and well-paid.


Another role that is available to you is working in a prison. This kind of vacancy can put some people off as they think they wouldn’t be safe, but often these environments are very well secured. It’s a good way of making money as this position offers a very good daily rate and it’s also guaranteed payment. Whereas sometimes there might be discrepancies with practices over UDA targets, there are no targets as a prison dentist – it’s just a case of going in, seeing patients and delivering the necessary basic treatment. While it is not a long-term position and they tend to become available once a month or so, each lasting about five days, it’s a less stressful way of making good money.


It is the same with working on a military base. While many may not be aware of this opportunity, there are full-time contracts available to work alongside military personnel as a civilian dentist. Security checks are required, naturally, but the process from providing compliance documents to starting on the base is relatively short. Again, this role does not require you to hit UDA targets, you don’t need a performer number and there are no discrepancies over pay. Most importantly, however, this role pays by the hour – a rarity in dentistry. As this position can pay up to £50 an hour with a contract lasting up to ten months plus, working for the military can be a very good opportunity.

How Do You Choose?

If these roles prove anything, it’s that considering other options and being flexible can open up a whole new avenue for your career. In terms of location, there seems to be more roles available outside of London and more opportunities to earn more money – especially in locum roles. What this essentially boils down to, is demand.

Experienced and up-to-date with market trends, specialist recruiter Dental Elite can help find the perfect position for you. Partnering with a major specialist recruiter for the prison sector in England and Wales, Dental Elite regularly fills vacancies in this area and all those interested in locum roles should speak to Luke Arnold. For locum positions in the military throughout the UK speak to Georgio Jankowski for details.

Ultimately, it can be difficult to know which pathway to take, with the benefits of certain environments and roles not always clear, but by seeking advice you could make the most of being a dentist. Why not explore the options available to you today – it could be the best thing you ever do.

Originally Published in the Probe in July 2016