Dental therapist and entrepreneur, Victoria Wilson, is developing a new course to help dental professionals learn the steps to launch a sustainable oral health promotional project in five weeks, and the confidence to start a new venture.
Where did the idea of running this series of courses come from?
As a dental profession we continue to treat the most prevalent preventative disease globally.
We have so many amazing clinicians. But we are limited in our reach through clinical work alone, staying in clinic.
This is exactly why Smile Revolution is running the course. To give clinicians insight into opportunities they can explore and develop.
I have always felt passionate about sharing what I have learnt.
More recently we are witnessing a very different landscape, where many dental professionals feel more insecure, worried and vulnerable.
I know many hygienists and therapists experiencing real financial, mental health and professional challenges. This is really urging me to create this course for the profession.
The work conducted by dental hygienists and therapists in clinic is invaluable. The profession has shown a huge commitment to patient care, as always.
I would never underestimate the value of what they do in a clinical setting. However, the set up is somewhat restrictive, because of the clinic capacity and number of patients we can reach.
The public’s reservations of going to the dentist in recent weeks magnifies this. As well as PPE restrictions, which can make treating even more demanding than ever.
With the Smile Revolution and the oral health promotion work that I do, I reach the public outside the clinical setting.
There are so many opportunities, and I feel strongly that others could also increase their outreach to support the public’s oral health in different ways by developing their own projects.
Versatility and uncovering and also exploring other opportunities has the potential to have an even greater impact on the public’s oral health.
The reality is that none of us have training in business.
With all the responsibilities of having to keep up to date with the latest regulatory and infection control requirements, learning about the latest clinical advancements, and technological developments, and bearing in mind the increasingly knowledgeable and demanding patient, it is a daunting prospect to embrace any opportunities beyond our comfort zone. Especially without any business knowledge.
Launching Smile Revolution
I speak from experience.
I stepped out of the clinical setting to create my own pathway and have successfully run Smile Revolution for more than two years.
But it was not easy. It was three to five years in the making. Doing a lot of my own research and exploring various avenues before launching.
Through our podcasts, we highlight the need to develop transferrable skills interviewing some amazing people, who were keen to share their learnings and make life easier for existing colleagues and newcomers to the profession.
Why reinvent the wheel when there are people out there who can save you time and help you advance faster?
It might not put everything on the plate, but it can definitely fast forward your path.
Taking the next step
The majority of dental professionals go on into clinics straight from dental schools as to treat patients is the natural next step.
These people also train to put a teaching plan together to work on school projects. But how many are sustainably doing this?
We are very lucky to have the BSDHT and other support organisations running oral health promotion initiatives. I can see how enthusiastic people are to absorb the information.
But that’s short lived. I feel that people are just dipping their toes instead of using these projects as springboards to extend their scope of practice.
I also think it is essential to measure the impact of what you are doing and make it sustainable.
So, at Smile Revolution, we developed a five-week course to help dentists, DHTs and nurses explore how they can expand their horizons.
Everyone has aspirations and ideas. I want to help them ‘think outside the box’. Use their working environment and their skillset to allow them to flourish.
It is not easy to work on your own. So working collaboratively on the course to develop the right business skills should make a tangible difference.
We help enable delegates to reach this stage. We set specific tasks to work towards, and ask delegates to put together a viable sustainable business module with the elements which we will discuss throughout the weeks.
At the end of the five weeks, they will learn how to create a business proposal and launch their project.
For delegates who still wish for further support and mentoring, I can continue to move the project forward.
I feel it is my duty as a dental professional to help my peers and I am committed throughout this journey. I want them to run a project that is viable, sustainable and has a measurable impact on oral health.
Do you think that everyone has the potential to create a new channel of income?
The pathway for oral promotion is very undefined.
Delegates’ projects could be anything they wish it to be – we can then help to hone it and shape it.
There may be an opportunity to develop a project under the umbrella of the dental practice, with the dentist and practice owner collaborating if they want to come on board.
Alternatively, it could be a scheme within their community using the clinic as the hub.
The sky is the limit as to the number of opportunities to uncover. Maybe it is about unleashing the potential of delegates who may not have the confidence to take that leap of faith.
There are walls of resistance and obstacles to overcome. This is all part of a process.
Smile Revolution is here to empower these individuals and help them find solutions to excel in existing areas and new ones.
Why do attendees need your course?
Some colleagues have set up charities or programmes designed for schools or the elderly.
But I am unaware of any existing courses that incorporate the business aspect of setting up an oral health promotional project.
Not many DHTs step out of the clinical setting.
Someone wishing to explore new avenues might find the whole experience scary, and also potentially unachievable. They have to go out there and do their due diligence, further their education and combine a multitude of aspects to build something like this.
It is unchartered territory. There is not an obvious defined pathway in dental school to do this.
Currently there are many clinicians advising on business development. But this is mainly about setting up a dental clinic, or focusing on the fundamentals of running a practice.
With the new Smile Revolution course, this is about evolving out of the dental clinic. Taking a project forward independently as a business entrepreneur.
This isn’t like any business courses you find out there. Which is why I identified the need for it.
Why do you think that Philips are keen to support you and this project?
Philips has already supported us on numerous occasions.
From the very beginning, the company is hugely invested in dental professionals’ education. It is reassuring that decades later, the company is still providing an amazing level of support.
I am so grateful the company believes in my vision and can see the potential impact of this course for dental professionals. It is hugely encouraging.
Members of the Philips education team recently did a podcast on Smile Revolution. We highlighted the need to develop transferrable skills and also how important it is to seize as many opportunities as possible to give yourself the flexibility of a different career pathway.
They spoke of the trials and errors and about confidence to get to the stage they have now reached. This message is exactly what I am trying to convey in this course.
Why do you think that elevating dental professionals to a new business level is important?
This provides an opportunity to work differently with the ultimate aim of supporting the public’s oral health.
We are living in one of the greatest times of uncertainty. There is, therefore, potential for dental professionals to rebuild themselves and find something they are really interested in and discover different ways of working.
The whole process will pay dividends to their overall wellbeing as a dental professional, and as an individual. That’s a huge focus for me.
It is about developing a new lease of life. If I can help with this, it would make me feel very privileged.
Discount and resources kit
The first four people to register for the course will receive a £700 discount.
In addition, because Philips understands the need for resources for health promotion, the company is offering all registrants a resource kit. This includes a Sonicare Protectiveclean 4300, practice posters, recommender pads, clinical study information and patient information leaflets.
For more information about the course, please visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/launch-an-oral-health-promotion-project-business-5-week-course-tickets-107758117430.