Is a dental practice run by female principals run differently than one by men?
In many ways, the answer is a resounding NO!
Nor should it be. It provides the same clinical service to the local population, it has the same duty of care, it is subject to the same employment rules and contractual obligations to its staff and Associates and the same rules from the CQC and NHS England apply. So it shouldn’t be any different.
Yet for those of us who work with a lot of practices nationally, there are often subtle differences in working arrangements. These are more often than not the end result of the different challenges that men and women face in their working lives.
For example, many practices are very focused on goals, which is a good thing – but this occasionally manifests itself in slightly different ways. Whilst working longer to achieve more is always an option for everyone, women in practice often manage through an enhanced emphasis on set timescales, forcing all work into a set timeframe. This concentration and intensity can push the achievement per hour to be very high.
As our clients tell us, “…. because we have to. We have things going on outside the practice which are immoveable and will not wait, so work achievement has to be maximised within that compartment.”
The ability to compartmentalise is often a driver of success in any business.
An all-women client practice in Sussex put it succinctly: “We don’t have time to spin out decision-making. We don’t have the luxury of ‘drift’. We look at the facts, we make a choice, and we get on with it”.
Many male dentists will at this stage be spluttering that they have had different experiences! Of course! There is no stereotypical female dentist, just as there are no stereotypical males. There is as wide a range of abilities, objectives and working arrangements in both sexes.
But whilst we can celebrate gender equality in the surgery, we can also surely also celebrate the differences in driving forces behind the sexes. By better understanding the challenges faced by the individual both professionally and personally, be it man or woman, we can support and learn from each other to ensure dentistry is always delivered to the highest standard. This is something about which I feel passionately, and that my team and I deliver daily’.