The Monday Morning Quote #201

“First ask yourself: What is the worst that can happen?

Then prepare to accept it.

Then proceed to improve on the worst.”

Dale Carnegie


Orthodontics at the UCLan School of Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education

A new orthodontic course under the leadership of Professor Ross Hobson promises great things; I wish them well.

Orthodontics at the UCLan School of Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education

The UCLan School of Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education has recognised the need to have Orthodontics as a key speciality to complement its current postgraduate programmes and  is in the process of establishing  a course in orthodontics.   This will be a 4 year part time M.Clin. Dent. conforming to the curriculum and training programme set out by the UK Specialist Advisory Committee in Orthodontics.
Professor Ross Hobson who is an accomplished teacher and clinician is  to be the academic lead and the training programme will be based in  the recently opened university campus  dental clinic.
The process of recognition to enable trainees sit the MOrth examination is in progress and should be completed early in 2013.  Already there has been substantial interest shown by potential applicants who will be kept on hold until full approval has be achieved, at which time the course details will be advertised.

Any student who wishes to register their interest in this programme can email with their contact details.

Further course information will be available in due course.

The Monday Morning Quote #200

“If there is something you want in life, then you’ve got one of two things.

You’ve either got it or you’ve got a story about why you haven’t got it.

Drop the story.”

Tony Robbins

COPDEND….you should be ashamed of yourselves…..

The piece below comes It was written by a final year dental student who has not “made the grade” at his FD1 assessment. The reason that he has been rejected is not because he is a poor student, indeed he has made it to within a few short months of his final exams so presumably he is doing something right. He has been turned down because he wasn’t adequate at the DF1 assessment, this is now in its second year and seems set to cause as much misery and anxiety as it did twelve months ago.

One would like to think that as this system has been set up by experienced, responsible individuals it would have been trialled scientifically and seen to work before implementation. It hasn’t been and it doesn’t.

Much has been written already about the way the scheme assessments are run and I am not going to add much to that here, except to say that everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves for the unnecessary stress they are causing to our young colleagues. You have allowed yourselves to be complicit in another mess.

I am one of many 5th year dental students in the UK that applied to, but unfortunately did not get given a DF1 vocational training post in the first iteration.

Like everyone else on January 9th 2013, I was eagerly anticipating the buzz and merry jingle from my phone which told me I had received the all important e-mail.

Everyone I had seen in the dental school that morning looked tense, there was no indication from COPDEND whether the e-mails were being sent out at 9am sharp, or after the working day. Rumours flew thick and fast that e-mails were being distributed a deanery at a time, that some had already received theirs at other Universities. “Any time now” was the common misconception.

Having made it through the morning tutorials that seemed to drag so sluggishly, I had the afternoon off from dental school. In an attempt to hurry through time, to take my mind off the issue, to project my anxiety on something else, to look at something other than my phone, I played video games.
3 hours ticked by and still, nothing. Searching through Facebook and Twitter for any mention or hashtag of DF1 proved futile. Finally, at 3:31pm, my phone came alive, and there it was: “donotreply, Important Information from London Deanery”. My heart raced as I fumbled to open the e-mail, excited to learn where my first official job would be. I started reading:
“Thank you for attending a selection centre for the above recruitment process.” … all seems fine, a courteous start to an important e-mail…
…”We write to inform you that the offers process has now closed and that all currently available training placements commencing in 2013 have been allocated.” … Good, no real issue here.

At this point, my eyes begin to wander, scanning the screen for any big bold lettering that declared my allocation. No such luck. I continued reading…
…”Therefore, we are unable to make an offer to you at present and you have been placed on the reserve list.”… My heart sank, my mouth dried, my eyes swelled. I rubbed my eyes, blinked profusely and read it again, and again, and again. The words lay lifeless on the screen.
…”we are unable to make an offer to you”.

I had frequently daydreamed about this moment. None of my daydreams looked like this.

5 minutes later, my phone buzzed in my hand. It’s London Deanery again. Naively, my mind jumped to conclusions. “This must be the ‘JUST KIDDING’ e-mail! Or ‘Sorry, we sent that to the wrong candidate!’.” No such lols. Just my ranking, 1023. My heart sinks again.

A huge wave of self doubt, despair and shame crashed over my world. Naturally, I started putting “1023″ into words. Incompetent, unemployable, deluded, unfit, useless, inept. This was definitely a low point, I have never doubted myself as much as I have done since receiving the news. Am I really that bad a communicator?
I had to make the journey home, but I couldn’t bear bumping into anyone, I stared at the floor the entire time and locked myself in my room to reflect. What I now know, is that this was the worst thing I could have done at this time.

Over the last couple of days, life has had to return to normal. I had to see my patients at uni again and news of other people in my position broke out.
Back on clinic, I felt extremely self conscious. As though everyone was watching me, expecting me to say something unprofessional, to see for themselves why I ranked so poorly.

I nervously went through the usual spiel of OHI and treatment planning with my patients. To my surprise, they were locked on to my every word and their apparent enthusiasm to comply with my advice began to pick up the pieces of my shattered confidence. Talking to people openly about my predicament made no difference to what had happened, but made life so much easier. I felt much less alone.

I had never thought that I would rank so low as to not be allocated a place, after all, I have reached 5th year without any discontent from the patients that I have seen, or any tutor questioning my professionalism. Then again, I’m sure no-one else thought this would happen to them either. The undoubted competence of my peers in the same position and the seemingly genuine surprise on the faces of my tutors began to soften the blow. Maybe I just had a bad day, maybe I simply flailed under the pressure.

I have an amazing bunch of friends and they have collectively helped me to realise, this is not as disastrous as it immediately seems. Essentially, this article is so I can try and portray that realisation to everyone else currently in this position with me.

Last years statistics are in our favour. 35 graduates ended up unemployed with roughly the same amount of unallocated candidates at this stage. As long as we keep our heads down and get the degree, we are still realistically in contention for a job. People reject their placements, unfortunately some fail finals, some move abroad. There will be spaces freed up come June. Indeed, moving abroad may be an option for us too, and some may already have put in applications for Scotland DVT.

If history doesn’t repeat itself however, then there are potential House Officer jobs intended as a stop gap, and reapplication next year only means we are 6-12 months behind the rest of the year. Who knows, with the spectrum of work and experience you can gain from a year as a House Officer, it might spur us on to specialise. Or, at the very least, make us more rounded clinicians and better prepared for next years round of applications.

There are some 200 of us in this position, we can’t let one failed job application (which may still be successful!) take away all the work of the last five years. What would be catastrophic was for this to lead to a chain of self doubt and lack of motivation that meant we didn’t get a BDS or BChD at the end of it all. The only way we can still be in the running for DF1 2013 is to be qualified when spaces open up. That’s the main aim. I’ve heard one story where a student that didn’t secure a position last year re-applied with a top 100 ranking this year. Same system, same mark scheme, same interviews. There is hope.

So here’s what I’ll be doing to turn this around:
1)Revise. Get the degree, I can’t see there being 200 unemployed graduate dentists out there next year.
2)Apply for Feedback from London Deanery. Just in case of reapplication next year. It’ll be useful to know what we did wrong or what is expected of us from this time round. It’ll be £10 and will have to be sent through the post. The application form is here.
3)Join the DF1 Dentistry Support Group on Facebook, there is a brilliant panel of dentists there to help and support us through this. Having everyone in the same place helps us realise we are not alone.

Above all, don’t give up hope. Chin up, chuck!

Quite so, you’re not on your own – never mistake temporary defeat for failure – and never forget how the bureaucrats have messed you about.

The Monday Morning Quote #199

A little longer this week – I read “Winning Matters” by Sean Fitzpatrick over the New Year break and this paragraph from the chapter “Leading From The Front” leapt out at me.


Leading from the front means doing it now. Do it better today and tomorrow, not ext week.

When you close this book after you finish reading it, commit to a change. It only needs to be one thing. It doesn’t need to change the world. But it needs to be something that, in changing, will improve you and your situation.

Success is all about modest improvements consistently done. Start today. Leave NOTHING on the table. Put your heart and soul into it. Wherever you are and however far away your goal sounds at the moment, you can get closer to it by starting the process.

Have the balls to change. Start doing shit. Accept and understand that sacrifice is key. Make the sacrifices willingly, and focus on making them worthwhile. Start today.”

British Lingual Orthodontic Society Spring Conference

blos-flyer-2013BLOS Spring Conference
International speakers talking about Sure Smile, Incognito, Harmony and 2D lingual appliances.

  • An unrepeatable lingual opportunity
  • Seven top lingual speakers
  • Six systems
  • One exciting day
  • Master lingual systems with lingual Masters

16th March 2013
Four Seasons, Canary Wharf, London
Register now

  • Only 50 places.
  • Special rate for postgrads.
  • More than 90% of delegates at the last BLOS conference rated the content as either excellent or very good.

Don’t miss out – full programme to follow.

“Just a….”

Anyone who has heard me presenting will know of my dislike of the phrase “just a…”, that usually refers to dental teams undervaluing procedures and time by reducing it in the patients’ eyes.

I also don’t like interruptions that start with “just a” because it rarely is. Too often I see dentists interrupted whilst they are working by (particularly) practice managers or receptionists. When you’re focussed you’re focussed on one thing and one thing only – there’s much nonsense spoken about “multi-tasking” you cannot do two (or more) things that require concentration at the same time properly.

For the same reason I dislike telephones and intercoms that can squawk at you without warning, conversations loud enough to be overheard when you are trying to connect properly with a patient and noisy telephones in reception areas.

Letting people interrupt and distract you when you should be full on shows poor time and people management.

Here’s a study that backs that up.

Even Brief Interruptions Spawn Errors
Jan. 7, 2013 — Short interruptions — such as the few seconds it takes to silence that buzzing smartphone — have a surprisingly large effect on one’s ability to accurately complete a task, according to new research led by Michigan State University.

The study, in which 300 people performed a sequence-based procedure on a computer, found that interruptions of about three seconds doubled the error rate.
Brief interruptions are ubiquitous in today’s society, from text messages to a work colleague poking his head in the door and interrupting an important conversation. But the ensuing errors can be disastrous for professionals such as airplane mechanics and emergency room doctors, said Erik Altmann, lead researcher on the study.
“What this means is that our health and safety is, on some level, contingent on whether the people looking after it have been interrupted,” said Altmann, MSU associate professor of psychology.
The study, funded by the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research, is one of the first to examine brief interruptions of relatively difficult tasks. The findings appear in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
Study participants were asked to perform a series of tasks in order, such as identifying with a keystroke whether a letter was closer to the start or the end of the alphabet. Even without interruptions a small number of errors in sequence were made.
Sometimes participants were interrupted and told to type two letters — which took 2.8 seconds — before returning to the task. When this happened, they were twice as likely to mess up the sequence.
Altmann said he was surprised that such short interruptions had a large effect. The interruptions lasted no longer than each step of the main task, he noted, so the time factor likely wasn’t the cause of the errors.
“So why did the error rate go up?” Altmann said. “The answer is that the participants had to shift their attention from one task to another. Even momentary interruptions can seem jarring when they occur during a process that takes considerable thought.”
One potential solution, particularly when errors would be costly, is to design an environment that protects against interruptions. “So before you enter this critical phase: All cell phones off at the very least,” Altmann said.
His co-authors are Gregory Trafton of the Naval Research Laboratory and Zach Hambrick of MSU.

Here’s the link to the article.

The Monday Morning Quote #198

“Never mistake temporary defeat for failure.

Napoleon Hill in chapter five of Think & Grow Rich


The Weekend Read – Think and Grow Rich

A new year so time to revist one of the classic books about success. If I was asked to recomend three books on success to a young dentist (or anyone who wants to be seen as professional in whatever walk of life they follow) they would be:

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. here
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
  • If you want the third (dental) book email me:

The first two were published in 1937 and have stood the test of time extremely well. Sure some of the language has dated over the years but the deceptively simple messages are as true as they were in those depressed days before WWII – indeed they are probably more true in 2013 than they were in 2008.

Napoleon Hill’s book was commissioned by Andrew Carnegie to write a book on what makes a successful person succeed. He spent 20 years interviewing every great name of the day (Ford, Woolworth, Edison etc) plus some people who failed, because you have to know how to deal with setbacks and learn what doesn’t work too.

Listing 13 Steps to Riches this is not a book to be read in one sitting rather it should be savoured and digested a chapter at a time and above all the instructions given should be followed – after all the difference between reading about and achieving success is precisely that.

A great read and one that will repay your investment of time over and over again.

Available from Amazon here.


The EU Gender Directive 2012 – How Will You Be Affected?

As ever a succinct and easily understood article from Ray Prince & Graeme Urwin. Here’s the link

The EU Gender Directive 2012 – How Will You Be Affected?

Not exactly an exciting start to an article with a title like that, I’m sure you’ll agree!GenderBalance

But this is about to be implemented by all insurance companies in December and will affect pretty much everyone with particular emphasis perhaps on females.

So what is it all about?

Well, back in 2007, the Gender Directive ruling allowed insurance companies to still discriminate between male and female rates as long as they could prove with statistics that there were good reasons for going so.

One of these could have been that, for example, amongst young drivers females have fewer accidents and therefore are rewarded with lower insurance premiums (the words ‘boy racer’ come to mind).

But the latest EU ruling has stated that this is no longer acceptable as it flies in the face of the spirit of the Gender Directive and that unisex rates must be brought in by 21st December 2012, as the Directive was clearly about eliminating different premiums for people of different sexes.

So that’s that then.

So how will this affect things for us all?

Let’s take a look at some of the most common issues:

Life Insurance

In the past, a female taking out life cover had lower premiums as they were overall a better risk for the insurance company due to the fact that, on average, they live longer than males.
This will now be ending, with equal rates for both men and women.

Income Protection

The opposite has been the case for females on this form of insurance cover, with premiums normally costing them more and sometimes a lot more.

This is because the actuaries have decades of statistics showing that not only do females claim more, but they tend to also claim for longer.

Again, the new ruling will now mean that both male and female rates will be equal. Although many providers have not finalised rates or at least let them be known yet, LV have been quoted as saying that they expect female premiums to drop by 28% but mens to increase by a similar amount.

A point worth making on both the above issues is that insurance companies have had huge costs (millions) in changing their systems due to the Directive.

Therefore, in the opinion of one provider, although there will be some clear winners with the changes overall premiums will increase.

Critical Illness Cover

Perhaps reflecting these increased costs for insurance companies, LV have said that they expect rises in premiums for both sexes, and critical illness with life cover could rise by 6% for men and 16% for women.

Annuity Rates

An annuity is what you purchase when you convert the amount of pension fund (usually in a private pension / Self Invested Personal Pension) you have accrued.

Annuites provide a level of income and can include various features, such as spouse benefit and inflation protection. Currently, the rates are different between the sexes.

Since females (on average) outlive males, they are only able to secure a lower annuity rate, meaning they get less annual pension for the same pot.

This will now change with the new unisex rates.

Prudential has stated that a male with a £50,000 pension pot, retiring at age 65 taking a level pension,  will receive £2,506 a year now.

However, this will reduce to £2,467 under the new rules. A female in the same position will see her income increase from £2,277 to £2,467 – a gain of 8.3%.

Car Insurance

The biggest gainers will be young men, and the biggest losers young women, although it is not totally clear yet how exactly this will feed through into premium rates.

For drivers above age 30 it should make little difference.

The Financial Tips Bottom Line

Women are set to be clear winners with the amount they get for their pension pot and with new applications for income protection.

However, it looks like they will be losers on life and car insurance.

Action Point

If you are due to renew your car insurance (or your children are!) and are female, it is worth looking at urgently. Also, can you renew early?

On annuity rates, although the rates for males are not expected to drop too much, if you are due to take your pension this way it could be a good idea to move quickly.

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