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0 Comments Mar 10, 2017 | News UK & Ireland

What would Dr Mo Lar do? Part I

Post a comment by 4dentists, UK

As a dentist, you will be presented with a number of challenges in your personal and professional life, from the minute that you become a dental student right through until the end of your career and beyond. These might include transitioning after graduation, becoming an associate, buying a home, getting married, starting a family or becoming a principal. Business expansion, selling a practice, managing tax, retirement and preparing for the future by making a will are further examples.

Over the course of an 11-part series, the 4dentist group will explore ways to tackle these challenges by providing advice and guidance to fictional character Dr Mo Lar (see what we did there?). In this first article in the series, we will explore Lar’s transition from student life to his role in dentistry.

Finding a job
Dr Mo Lar’s university career is coming to an end, which means goodbye studying and hello foundation training. At this point, Lar is in the same boat as everyone else. He needs to secure a vocational dental practitioner (VDP) position in a suitable practice that puts him in good stead for future employment. What advice could be given to someone in Lar’s position?

Foundation training is designed to help new dentists improve their practical skills and increase their knowledge of general dental practice, so it is crucial for Lar to secure a position that is suitable for him. Not doing so could impact his future and the options that are available to him.

As such, the best advice for Lar would be for him to take into consideration what he hopes to achieve from his first VDP position before he applies or accepts a job. Indeed, there are a number of pathways to follow in dentistry, so it is always wise to give thought to the type of career that you would like to have. The role must also be able to offer the necessary support to ensure that there is time to reflect your strengths and weaknesses.

As for finding the role, someone new to the profession like Lar can benefit from a recruitment platform like careers4dentists, as it affords a graduate a means to discover the range of VDP vacancies available throughout the UK.

The dreaded student loan
Once Lar has accepted a role, he will need to give thought to paying back his student loan. Owing to financial support from family members, Lar only had to borrow £20,000, but this is not the case for most students. Indeed, many will have borrowed the maximum loan that was available to them, whatever it was at the time. Currently, maintenance loans vary from £7,097 to £11,002, depending on whether students live at home or in student accommodation or are due to spend a year studying abroad. The repayment of the loan is repaid through the tax system and only begins if you are earning above a certain amount. For English and Welsh students who started their course before 1 September 2012, that amount is currently £17,495, and it is £21,000 for those who started on or after that date. As for the amount of interest that will be added to the loan repayments, there are also two different rates that can be applied, depending on whether the loan was taken out before or after 1 September 2012. If it was before, the interest rate is 1.25 per cent. If it was after, however, the rate varies depending on the circumstances.

As a VDP, Lar’s income will be around £30,000 per annum, so he will be required to make repayments in line with his earnings. The income-contingent repayment system tapers the repayment obligation according to the gross income of the account holder, so the more Lar earns, the more he will be required to pay back each month. Of course, should he wish to, he could increase the amount that he pays each month to pay off the loan quicker, which would prove to be beneficial later on in life when he has more financial responsibilities.

Cover yourself
Lar would also be advised to take out income protection insurance, which would provide an income should he be prevented from working owing to sickness or injury. Typically, the payout received if a claim is made is equivalent to 50–65 per cent of a person’s usual income and can be paid until termination of the policy.

For Lar, it is advisable that he take out own occupation cover, as it will ensure that he will receive a payout based on the fact that he cannot perform his duties as a dentist. Indeed, there are plans out there that will only pay a benefit if the policyholder is so sick or disabled that he or she cannot work at all. For that reason, it is always wise to seek the services of a specialist independent financial adviser, since not doing so could leave you with the wrong protection insurance. Further to that, you should always check what your contract covers with respect to sick pay, as this will affect what you will need from your insurance.

All in all, there are a number of factors to take into consideration during the initial stages of becoming a VDP, none of which have to be undertaken alone. With the right help, dentists like Dr Mo Lar can enter dentistry confident that they have a financially sound future.

In the next part: Dr Mo Lar becomes a self-employed associate.

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