This engaging series of 11 articles, from the 4dentist group, explores the challenges faced by fictional dentist Dr Mo Lar from his student days and finding his first job through to retirement and preparing for the future by making a will.
These articles gives advice and guidance on how to tackle the challenges in Dr Mo Lar's personal and professional life.
As the first article in the series, we will explore Dr Lar’s transition from student life to his first 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 (FT). At this point, Dr Lar is in the same boat as everyone else – he needs to secure a graduate position in a suitable practice that puts him in good stead for future employment. So what advice could be given to someone in Dr Lar’s position?
Foundation training is designed to help young dentists improve their practical skills and increase their knowledge of general dental practice, so it’s crucial for Dr 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 Dr Lar would be for him to take into consideration what he hopes to achieve from his first graduate position before he applies or accepts a job. Indeed, there are a number of pathways to go down 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 understand one’s strengths and weaknesses.
As for finding the role – for someone new to the profession like Dr Lar, it can pay to utilise the services of a recruitment firm like careers4dentists, as it affords a graduate the opportunity to discover the range of vacancies available throughout the UK.
The dreaded student loan
Once Dr Lar has accepted a role, he will need to give thought to paying back his student loan. Thanks to financial support from family members, Dr Lar only had to borrow £20,000, but for most students this is not the case. Indeed, many will have borrowed the maximum loan that was available to them, whatever it was at the time. As it currently stands, maintenance loans vary from £7,097 to £11,002 depending on whether students live at home, 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 is £21,000 for those that started on or after that date. As for the amount of interest that will be added on to the loan repayments, there are also two different rates that can be applied depending on whether it was before or after 1 September 2012 the loan was taken out. 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 graduate, Dr 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 Dr Lar earns, the more he will be required to pay back each month). Of course, should he want 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.
If Dr Lar were a real dentist that had sought guidance, he would also be advised to take out income protection insurance, which would provide an income, should he be prevented from working due to sickness or injury. Typically, the pay out received if a claim is made is equivalent to 50-65 per cent of a person’s usual income, and can be paid until the termination of the policy.
For Dr Lar, it is advisable that he takes out ‘own occupation’ cover, as it will ensure that he can receive a payout based on the fact that he can’t 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 they 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 in respect to sick pay as this will impact upon 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 foundation dentist, 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.
Next issue: Dr Mo Lar becomes a self-employed associate.
Posted by Gemma