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By Dr Diana Omar

Life as an associate dentist and part-time locum

3 min
Dr Diana Omar

My name is Dr Diana Omar and I have just finished my foundation training. I’ve recently started working as a part-time associate and part-time locum. In this article, I’ll be talking about what life is like as an associate dentist and what UDA rates you should expect.

During your foundation year, you will be paid a fixed salary. So, no matter how much or how little work you do, you are still paid the same. You will have a target to work to, but it isn’t very strict. For foundation dentists in 2021-2022, the target was 1,800 UDAs. I didn’t quite reach mine, but I still passed the year.

UDA targets and rates

Following your foundation year, you enter the real world where you get paid for the amount of work you do. As a new associate dentist, most people recommend going for an achievable target. This is usually 1000 UDAs for every day that you work within the year.

In other words, if you’re working five days a week, your target for the year should be 5000 UDAs. As you become more experienced, you can increase your UDA targets.

In terms of UDA rate, I’d recommend haggling for a higher rate. Practice Managers may offer you a lower rate, but don’t be afraid to politely ask for more.

In my experience, when I’ve asked employers for a higher rate, they do tend to increase it – even if it’s just by 50p. Although this sounds like very little, if you’re working five days a week, this adds up to an extra £2,500 a year.

If you work in an area with a lower demand for dentists, you’re likely to be offered a lower rate per UDA. For example, in London, the average rate per UDA is £10-£11. It’s rare to get up to £12.

However, if you work in an area where there is a higher demand for dentists, the UDA rate tends to be higher. For example, in the North of England, you would be expecting to see a UDA rate of around £12-£13.50. An extra £2 per UDA can make a difference of £10,000 per year.

Associate life

Associate life is very different to foundation training. I’ve been seeing up to 20 patients a day as an associate, whereas I was seeing around 10-15 during foundation training. You tend to work a lot faster as an associate, as you have a target that must be met.

Dentists often set themselves a daily target. Usually this is around 25-30 UDAs, although some dentists can reach a much higher target. If you’re working as a locum, you may be paid a day rate, but you must reach your UDA target. This is often around 25-30 UDAs.

As an associate, you are responsible for closing your own treatment plans. In foundation training, your Educational Supervisor would be responsible for this. Often your books are open from 9am - 5pm or 9am - 6pm. Your practice may also ask you to work a late night or one weekend per month.

Overall, I’m enjoying associate life so far. It has its pros and cons, but you are in charge of your working hours and how you work. Essentially, you are your own boss.

If you would like to know more about Diana, you can follow her on Instagram @DianaDoesDentistry.

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