While Prav washes his hair this week, Payman plays host to ambitious young dentists Hassan Asad and Sorabh Patel.
The pair may be relative newcomers to the profession, but they’re already making big waves.
In April, disheartened by the lack of support for new and younger dentists, Hassan and Sorabh set up the Deciduous Facebook group, which quickly grew to a membership of thousands.
Here Hassan and Sorabh talk about the group. They also relate some of the challenges faced by graduates and reluctantly let slip some of their big plans for the future.
“We want our members to feel safe. To feel like they can post cases and ask and get advice, and ultimately not feel like a shark pit is out there to bite them.” – Hassan Assad
In This Episode
00.54 – Deciduous group
08.26 – Thoughts on careers
12.23 – Soft skills and support
21.44 – Leaving Iraq
24.34 – Gold standards and tales of the GDC
30.52 – The Deciduous team
39.31 – Life in practice
43.26 – Coping through COVID
49.46 – Ambition
About Hassan and Sorabh
Sorabh graduated from King’s College London and completed foundation training in Portsmouth. Hassan is a Leeds graduate, who found fame on social media as The Bearded Tooth Fairy.
In April 2020, Hassan and Sorabh founded the Deciduous Facebook group which now boasts over 2500 members. The group also has a growing presence on Instagram.
Sorab: The other day I was in practise and I get 17 missed calls, and like call me, call me, call me, this, that and the other. I was like, “Jesus Christ, what’s going on? Is he all right? Is he in an accident? What’s going on?” I give him a call and I was like, “Mate, you’re all right?” He was like, “Yeah, we need to reply to Payman.” I was like, “Oh, my days. You could have just texted me this.”
Intro Voice: This is Dental Leaders. The podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts, Payman Langroudi and Prav Solanki.
Payman: So, today on the Dental Leaders Podcast I’ve got Hassan Asad and Sorab Patel. No Prav, unfortunately, so I’m going to try and do Prav’s bits for him. Hi, Hassan.
Hassan: Hi, how are you doing? You’re all right?
Payman: All right, buddy. How are you?
Hassan: Yeah, not too bad.
Payman: Sorab, you’re there?
Sorab: Yeah, I’m good man. How are you, Payman?
Payman: Good. Really, really… I know you guys are busy. You’ve probably just gone back to work. Have you both of you?
Sorab: Yeah. So, I’ve been back since the eighth on a part-time rota basis. But I think I’m going back a bit more full-time from over the next few weeks.
Hassan: I’m due to go back next week. So, from 29th, again, on a part-time basis, but we’ve just been working from home triaging and whatnot.
Payman: And so, in this period, the lockdown period, is that when your little Deciduous group started?
Hassan: I would say so, yeah. I think it was around this period where it just gave us time to really reflect on what’s missing, and what we needed as young dental professionals. And one idea led to another and then it’s grown. I think it was a little idea, and now it’s grown into something more of a network, really.
Payman: So, tell us about it. So, what is it exactly?
Hassan: So, essentially, what Deciduous is, is a network of young dental professionals that has been made to unite, discuss cases, discuss topics, and really hone in on the struggles that young dental professionals face in a safe, honest environment where we want to support each other. I’m sure Sorab will add, but I personally had had enough of seeing the negativity around dentists, and on other Facebook groups. And that lack of support and genuine advice. So we said, right, let’s do something about this. Let’s tackle this. And yeah, it’s essentially that. It’s a support network. And Sorab, I’m sure you would want to add to that.
Sorab: Yeah, mate. It’s pretty much what Hass was saying. I mean, Payman, we’ve worked together on a couple of things back in the day. We’ve met through social media. And we can see that it can be a very toxic place, especially for young dentists. And the old generation of dentists there, there’s a lot of negativity. There’s just a lot of crap out there, and we just wanted to cut through all of that. We’ve been helping young dentist and stuff over the last year or so with DFT, with everyone we’ve met. And then me and Hass was just like, you know what, we keep talking about it. Why not take it to the next stage? Why not just help as many people as possible? And that’s what Deciduous was basically all about.
Payman: Did you guys have any negative experiences online yourselves?
Hassan: I wouldn’t say negative experiences, but you see posts on Dentist For Dentists and someone will ask a question, and then half the comments are not really useful. It’s just trolling. The second half of people just with egos giving opinions that aren’t always necessarily true. And as a young dentist that puts you in a negative attitude automatically. And then you’re quite anxious to ask a question because you feel like you’re just going to get shot down.
Payman: But it hasn’t happened to you, yourself, is that what you’re saying? You haven’t put your head above the-
Hassan: No one’s… Well, to be honest with you. I’m not really that bothered if people want to say to me now that this is wrong. I’d rather be told that because at the end of day, I’m still learning. So people’s opinions and what do matter to me. But I know other young dentists are not going to be confident to pose the question on there because they feel like they’ll just get shut down. And that’s the feedback we got.
Sorab: Yeah, so I think I completely agree with Hass there. I mean, I’ve been on social media for a while, and I’ve worked with a lot of dentists and stuff. And most of the experiences I’ve had have been quite positive. But you generally see the general vibe of young dentists, they should stay in their lane. They should know their place, that kind of stuff. And I’ve seen it to a couple of friends who’ve pretty much just been trolled and bullied, essentially. And it’s just like, we’re the new generation of dentists. We look up to you guys to guide and help and push the profession forward. And then after a while, we’re just like, “Well, why don’t we just do it ourselves?” Why don’t we just inspire the next generation of dentists and just connect and learn and just foster a community of positivity where we help and support each other. There’s enough competition out there as it is. At the end of the day, especially with everything that happened over COVID I think we needed to come together more than ever.
Payman: Yeah. What stage of your career are you both at right now?
Hassan: So, we’ve just completed our foundation year and six months out into practise. So, obviously, in terms of our careers, we’re still very early on. We’ve got a lot to learn.
Payman: How does that feel?
Payman: Exciting at the same time?
Sorab: I mean, don’t get us wrong. We’re not claiming to be the best clinicians out there or we pretend to know it all. We don’t. We’re completely clueless with a lot of things. But the things that we struggle with, and the things that we find really difficult, it’s what everyone else is finding difficult. We’re eager to learn. We’re eager to reflect, and I feel like we’ve gone into pretty good habits where we reflect on our work. We reflect on the situations that we’ve been in, and we’re trying to learn from people. And we’ve got really good mentors around us. So, we just want to try and foster that with a lot of the other young dentists and say, “Look, you guys aren’t alone in this. It’s okay not to know everything from the get go. It is a journey, and it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And there’s loads of support around it.”
Payman: I mean, the first year after VT. I’m going to call it VT? What do you guys call it at DF?
Payman: DFT. The first year you go into an associate job is probably one of the most stressful years of your life. It was for me. Because you’re still that young kid who a minute ago was in university. And I’m not even talking about from the clinical perspective. I’m talking about you go from an institutionalised situation to VT, which is more, it’s out there. But you’re still in a support network. And then suddenly, you’re by yourself. And I just found it painful that I was out in the real world. I didn’t enjoy it. How do you guys see it? Do you guys feel like, oh, this is what I’ve been trained for, and this is what… Raring to go in this new situation, or do you have a bit of what I had?
Hassan: I definitely had what you had. I think any young dentist finishing foundation dentistry who doesn’t have that element inside them is doing something wrong because dentistry is very difficult. And like you said, not even the clinical elements. Appreciating, understanding things like finances, dealing with patients, treatment planning appropriately without having an educational supervisor. You being the clinician that’s ultimately making the decisions for these patients. All of that together, it’s not a nice experience. And it is something which actually has been said by a lot of FTs at the moment, and I feel for them because me and Sorab were lucky to have the whole year, and the generations before us. Whereas, the new cohort, so this year’s FT-
Payman: Of course missing three months of their FT.
Hassan: It was the last three, four months really of foundation training where you consolidate everything you’ve learned and you try and get into the habit, and you’re not doing an hour examination anymore on an exam scale. You’re really getting into what being associate is about. And to have that cut short I do feel for them. Honestly, I think it is a scary situation.
Payman: Where did you go study?
Sorab: So, I studied, graduated from King’s, and then did my foundation training in Portsmouth as I was in the Hampshire scheme.
Hassan: I studied at [inaudible 00:08:38], and then I did my foundation training on the KSS West scheme, which is part of London now.
Payman: And so, when you look towards your career going forward. How far ahead are you planning? Have you got plans? What do you think? I mean, Hassan, where do you reckon you’re going to be in five years? Are you thinking in five years sort of timescale?
Hassan: Yeah, of course. I think it’s always important to think ahead, to make a rough plan. It does change. Ideally, I’d like to get an MSc under my name just purely because I’d like to hone in my skills. At the moment I’ve got an eye for endo, which I know some people hate, but I’d rather hone in on a particular aspect. I’d definitely like to get a PGCert in education under my name just so that one day I can hopefully teach. At the moment, of course, I’m far away from that because I need to make sure my clinical skills and knowledge are up to scratch first, and then hopefully take Deciduous to the next dimension as well.
Payman: What about you, Sorab?
Sorab: Very similar except the end I think. Our principal is kind of pushing for me to go into Endo because he’s a specialist.
Sorab: Yeah, he’s a specialist endodontist.
Payman: Wow, [inaudible 00:09:44], opportunity to really learn, isn’t it?
Sorab: Yeah, I’m trying to learn as much as possible from him. But I don’t think an endo specialty for me is what I want. I think for me, it’s just like Hass was saying. I really want to hone my skills. So, for the first few years, I want to be the best single tooth quadrant dentist I can be, and just really nail the treatment planning on a holistic scale, and eventually try and become the best full mouth dentist I can be. And just really excel and use my knowledge. I think I would probably look into doing either an MSc or an MClinDent in the future.
Sorab: Keep my options open. Restorative is what I enjoy. I just love fixing and putting things back together. And then I also need to find a use of my dental materials degree. So, I don’t know. I’m keeping my options open as much as possible. Just try and be as good as an associate as I can be for now, and just build my confidence, which I’m currently doing because I’m really well supported in the practise on that. Me and Has, we’re both doing a PGCert, a year long course which has really helped us to excel and just get into really good habits from day one. And I think that’s what me and Hass had in common. It’s our ethos, do things properly. And if we do that, then I think we’ll be all right. But I don’t know if I’m going to own a practise or be a specialist or run a course. I’m keep them options.
Hassan: Yeah, I think I’d add to what Sorab said. I think it’s important for us to have a five year plan. But except that this can change and keep your options.
Sorab: Yeah, keep it dynamic.
Payman: I mean, I’m interested in what you’re saying. Sorab, are you saying you want to be a teacher of some sort as well?
Sorab: I think going into some sort of clinical teaching would be fantastic. One thing that’s a goal of mine is to switch up the curriculum in dentistry. And I really want to add an element of mental health and resilience within the curriculum because I don’t think that’s taught at all. And there’s some incredible clinicians that are trying to push for that as well. [inaudible 00:11:37], she’s trying to go for that, and Asher as well. So, there is a movement and a push for that. And I think just excelling and highlighting the soft skills, communication, talking to patients, talking to colleagues, and just building up the softer skills because those are the things that you really lack and that’s what is really going to help you get to grips with day to day dentistry in my opinion.
Hassan: Yeah, I think that what Sorab just said is really important because the curriculum is some parts of it are great. And we do know some parts have to be taught. There are definitely vast areas that can be improved. As a young dentist or going through dental school, you’re not taught about finances, you’re not taught about how to handle your money, you’re not taught about the bigger picture when you go out there. Mental health, again, is something which really needs to be advocated further. And I think these things do need to be highlighted, and they are being highlighted. And as Sorab said, there is this movement. Things are changing. Dentistry is changing. It is evolving.
Payman: But guys, I mean, a big difference between what you’re saying, and what we were saying when I was qualified 25 years ago. Maybe it was just me, I don’t know. You’re one year out both of you are talking about teaching. Why is that? Why is that an ambition? Why teaching?
Sorab: I think we just want to become what we needed.
Hassan: Yeah, exactly.
Sorab: I mean, don’t get me wrong. We’re not planning on jumping into clinical tutoring a year in.
Payman: But why is that a goal?
Hassan: So, me whenever I’ve seen a topic taught to me, I always think, how could I have done that? What would I have wanted? And I want to answer those questions because I know there’ll be other dental students, for example, going through the same thing. But again, we’re going to reiterate, quite far from that.
Payman: No, I get that. But Sorab, are you’re saying some of your teaching left something to be desired, and you want to improve on it?
Sorab: I mean, I had some fantastic tutors, and some amazing mentors. And it was really useful. The biggest teaching I had was from my ESes, who have sort of really, really helped me. But what I’m saying is, it’s the stuff that they don’t teach you in dental school. That’s why I want to come back and change. So, like the softer skills, and the stuff to do with mental health and resilience and emotional intelligence, that kind of stuff. So, soft skills, I think really need to be emphasised. My clinical teaching was second to none. In all honesty, what I got taught when I was in dental school and in clinics was I got taught by specialists. I got taught by consultants. I learned from as many people as possible. So, I don’t think clinically I was lacking, but in terms of soft skills, and how to manage my time effectively, and manage stress, that was lacking.
Payman: So, I read that article of yours about what you went through. Tell us a bit more history about when that started, and what happened.
Sorab: Yeah, so I recently wrote an article talking about my final year journey. Just a brief overview. I’m a post grad, so I didn’t get a lot of student financing or help there. So, I was working a part-time job, and then doing some stuff on the side just to pay for enough to get through dental school and pay for my tuition. At the same time my dad was quite ill. And I remember quite early on he was admitted into hospital. He had some issues with his heart. And then long story short, he was basically borderline risk of heart failure. And that to take in when you’re in final year with all your quotas and everything you had to meet, it just sort of is like smashing into a brick wall and everything just started falling apart.
Sorab: In the article, I talk about how I went through burnout and going through depression because you just feel like everything’s just falling apart. And there was a lot of… There was just lack of support and compassion, really. And it took me a while to get through it all, and I’m in a much stronger position I am now thanks to a lot of people that helped me on my journey on the way. So that’s what the article goes into-
Payman: But explain it to me. I mean, how did you feel and where was the lack of support?
Sorab: So, I just felt completely lost. It was like, I stuck to all the rules. There was a lot of issues with quotas and stuff, and I get it. You have to meet a set amount of clinical quotas and that’s fine. But it wasn’t like I was falling behind. I was never a straight A student or getting 100% in all my exams. But I always turned up to clinics. I was the first in. I was always trying to do the extra sessions. I did all the work that they asked me to do. They said jump and I said how high?
Sorab: And then eventually it got to the stage where I didn’t meet my quotas because patients had cancelled, and it wasn’t anything that I’d done wrong. I’ve chased them up. I’ve given them calls. I’ve emailed them, called them, booked them in, double checked everything. And I had all the paperwork to show it. And then they still said, “Well, you haven’t made your quotas,” and I missed out by two. So it was something so trivial. Two review patients that I didn’t review. And because of that, I got suspended from my final exams. And when that happened, I just felt a complete loss in the system, just loss of faith.
Sorab: I presented everything. I showed them all my paperwork. I showed everything because I kept evidence of everything I did. And I said, “Look, I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to do. I’ve made up for all these sessions.” I really had to fight tooth. And I just felt like there wasn’t as much support for me. I thought I was a one off, and then later on I found out that this was happening to a lot of other students, not just where I was, but across the country. And I feel like, I don’t get it. I don’t know if there’s something I’m missing with dental schools in particular, or they have a very strict criteria or something. But if someone falls behind on something that’s not within their control, a little bit of compassion or trying to understand what the student is going through would really help.
Payman: And so, what happened to you?
Sorab: So, I had to fight tooth and nail and I had a couple of progress meetings. I had to speak to the dean. I had to speak to the leads of the heads of department, and catch up on some sessions. And then I had a very, very supportive tutor who really fought my corner and she backed me. So, Helena Lewis-Greene really supported me there and Dr. Zara. So, those guys really fought my corner and I was able to sit my exam. I only got that approved a week before I was meant to sit it. Thankfully I was revising nonstop anyway just in case. So, I managed to sit my exam. I managed to pass. I got my BDS, and that whole time made me realise I just want my BDS and I want to leave dental school. I’m done with this. I just want to get into practise, focus on my patience, and just be the best dentist I can be.
Sorab: And it took me a while to reflect back on it, obviously, because of COVID I had a lot of spare time. So, I was reflecting back on it, and I reached out to a couple of people in the year below, and people graduate before me and after me. And so many people went through similar things. There were people that went through bereavements in final year. There were people that went through a lot of family issues. There were people that went through all sorts of stuff during their final year. And it was just a complete lack of support from the dental institutes, and I just found that shocking. We’re taught to go above and beyond for patients and to support your team and work together. And it just felt like it was lacking. That was my personal experience of it, which is why I’m so determined to change that.
Payman: Do you think there was an agenda that was outside of the standard? Do you think that someone had a vendetta against you or you rubbed someone up the wrong way or something like that?
Sorab: I was definitely a mischievous one, and I bantered quite a lot. But I don’t think that was the case. I don’t think that was the case. I just think it was… I think there’s just a disconnect. The people that run the show they have no idea what it’s like on the front lines, and that’s my genuine opinion.
Hassan: I would completely… Everything that Sorab said was experienced by my colleagues at university. The clinicians themselves were brilliant, absolutely fantastic tutors and whatnot. Again, taught by specialists, top-end individuals in the [inaudible] clinical world. But then I think it’s the people running the scenes behind the show, sort of the institutions and the admin side, and there’s no connection. So, for example, telling a final year dental student you can’t sit your finals because you haven’t got enough endo cases a month before that’s due at no fault of your own is not very good for your mental health as a student. Considering the stress and everything you go through to be told that.
Payman: I get it. But the quotas are a feature of dental school, and a line has to be drawn. And you’re telling me the way it was handled was the problem, not the fact that a line had to be drawn?
Hassan: No, no, no, listen. I think if anything, I wish there were more quotas and more totals because that would mean that when we go out into foundation training, into the real world, we’re more prepared. You’ve got, and you know yourself what some DFTs go through. I did it myself. I came out of dental school having only done eight canals. There are people that would come in through dental school who had one or two. Now, that’s not their fault. We were all actively trying to find these patients or find a way of getting our totals. But it’s not our fault, and to be told that, “Well this is the line late on causes a huge amount of stress and anxiety.”
Payman: Dude, I mean, again, I read some of your story about coming over from Iraq, over the border, and refugees status, and all of this. Surely, this is nothing compared to that, right?
Hassan: I think it’s very difficult for me to compare the two. I mean, look, this is dentistry, and that’s real life, and I think that’s an issue with dentistry. I think that’s an issue of dentists, and-
Payman: Tell us your story of how old were you when you left Iraq?
Hassan: Yeah. So, I was around, reaching towards the end of four or five. And then we left Iraq and Baghdad.
Payman: Which year was that?
Hassan: It was 1999. It was towards the latter stages. So, it was between 1998 and 1999 if I’m very honest with you. It’s not exact, but there was a war going on in 1998. There were some… I think the coalitions, the US and UK were bombing some Saddam’s infrastructure around Baghdad. Someone was always bombing Saddam to be honest with you. Yeah, so we left to Jordan. We stayed there for about six to eight months. And then we came to the UK. My dad was already in the UK with my auntie, and then yeah, just came essentially from there, and built hopefully, my way out worked hard.
Payman: Do you remember Iraq as well?
Hassan: Yeah. I do you remember loads of it. I mean, the food. I spoke a lot about my article regarding the food. I’m sure you all appreciate from a Middle Eastern background how much of a family support network it was. Everything was woven around family, and big get togethers. My nanny used have a huge dog. This is dad’s grandma, which I was petrified of. And since then I’ve had a very turbulent relationship with dogs. I’m one of those Middle Easterners that crosses the road if they see a dog, and I think a lot of Middle Easterners have heard this. Yeah, Iraq wasn’t I think what people think of right now as Iraq being this war zone and whatnot. I guess it is, but for me, I didn’t have that because I was young. I was naïve. My family were comfortable. Obviously, there was always a scare. And people were living under fear. There was a terrible regime going on in the background with Saddam, etc. But as a young four-year-old, five-year-old, you’re oblivious to these things.
Payman: And how many years were you… You came when you were five, six, you got to Britain?
Hassan: Yeah, I was here when I was six. So, it’s quite interesting first few days, months, not being able to speak any English.
Payman: I came at six as well. I used to think silence was a person. We came halfway through the year, we found this one school that would let us in, a Catholic school, and very strict. And they kept saying, “Silence, silence.” I kept thinking to myself, “This silence is a really naughty kid, man.” You keep on shouting at this silence.
Hassan: Yeah, I mean, I think we probably share very similar upbringings in the sense that my parents worked very hard to get me to where I am in that sense. I don’t come from a family of dentists or doctors or anything like that. But they always just told me from day one work hard, and I think it’s that Middle Eastern work ethic, and I think a lot of Asians share that, their parents.
Payman: Yeah. I do have dentist in my family though. I just feel like when we became dentists, and when you became dentist, the world is so different. I stopped practising 10 years ago, and even then the world was so different. I mean, tell me how much of when you’re in dental school, how much of all of our GDC nightmares and things are you aware of or do they start telling you that stuff when you go into VT or was that… When did you start hearing about that?
Sorab: It depends on your tutors. Yeah, I think it depends on your tutors. Some of them were very on it. They were almost like nightmarish tales. And you do get this fear of God put into you when they talk about the GDC. And then you’re just like, “This can’t be real.” And then you look into yourself you’re like, “Oh, my God, this is crazy.” I was quite lucky because my ESs were very open and honest with me and they told me everything that they tend to see and they were like, “Look, if you want to know for real just go to a hearing. See if you can go to one, sit in on one and see what it’s actually like.” And we did and then we saw some of the stuff that people get brought up for, and we’re like, “Oh, my God. People were not lying. People don’t mess around.”
Sorab: The most common thing is you get your tutors in dental school, they’ll be like, “Oh, [inaudible 00:25:59], they have everything. You’re not going to get this in dental practise or when you get out into the real world, you may only get one rubber dam kit for the day or something like that.” We’d laugh it off, and then we get into practise we’re like, “Oh, wow, they were not joking.” Some places, you’re quite limited in what you can do. I think that was the biggest turning point for me realising that being taught gold standard, and then being able out in practise to not be able to do it. It made no sense.
Hassan: That was one of the things, Payman, when you asked us, what is it about going from dental school to work, and were talking about that topic. It’s that transition. You go from the gold standard treatment planning, which you’re taught and it’s embedded into you. And then you come out into the real world and you realise, actually, I can’t do this because, A, there’s lack of resources. And, B, I need to be rewarded for my time and the work I’m doing in a fair way. But then at the same time, you’ve got that conflict in the back because you want to make sure you’re delivering the best, most optimal ethical care for your patient. And that was something that it takes time to get better. And I’m still learning from that, and so does Sorab because we continually ask each other what should we do here? How did you do it? Yeah.
Payman: I mean, the thing to understand is that when you are the most junior dentist in the world, which you guys are, and you’re about what in the some sort of mix practise now, right? Is that right?
Sorab: Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Payman: So, you’re young. You’ve got no control over that first step. But the light at the end of the tunnel is that gold standard treatment planning is available. It’s doable-
Payman: … out there. It’s just that you’re going to have to progress to that point where you meet those patients, and you’re in the kind of practise where people will pay for dentistry. I mean, there’s a big issue in the UK that it’s not in the culture of the whole population to save up for teeth and pay for teeth. But there is a massive proportion, I don’t know what it is right now, might be only 25 to 40% might be private now. And then you have got a lot more control. But at the same time there’s no way you’re going to spend three hours on a filling. This is not going to happen in the real world.
Hassan: Right, of course.
Payman: Whereas in dentist school you can literally do that if you want to, right?
Sorab: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Hassan: I remember the first one I did, I think I booked in the whole three hours. And even then I was struggling. I was like, “Oh my, God.” But yeah, no, you are right. We all know that there are certain systems in place that don’t reward dentist for particular treatments and stuff and I don’t even want to get into the politics and all that. But going forward, I think for both me and Sorab what you just said is true. We want to be in that position where we can offer that gold standard treatment plan. And enjoy it because we both love our dentistry. We really are passionate about it, and to be able to enjoy it fully and do the treatment you want to do, the resources, the equipment, and be rewarded for it at the same time, you need to be in that environment. And it’s difficult under the NHS, to be honest with you.
Sorab: Yeah. I mean, I’ll just echo that. And I think the most important thing for any young dentist is just make sure you’re in a practise that supports your vision. And that just supports the way you want to do things. I’m incredibly lucky to be in the practise I’m that. And I’ve realised that especially over COVID how supportive, open, and honest my team and my principles have been, and it’s been phenomenal. I can’t sing their praises highly enough, just because I’ve heard so many horror stories about people getting screwed over. And I’m just like, “Wow, I’m lucky to be where I am, and to be able to do the stuff that I do.”
Payman: I think definitely the associates situation has weakened through COVID talking to people.
Hassan: But at the same time I do feel like principals are facing a very difficult task to keep up the payments and stuff. It’s just a terrible situation for dentists and the dental profession in general, to be honest with you. But like Sorab said, I think the support network right now is crucial. And again, where I am in Hampshire with my principal Hardeep, and the [inaudible] brothers in southwest London, and [inaudible] have been brilliant. And I think what is needed right now more than ever is transparency, and people to talk to each other and let people know what’s going on.
Payman: Yeah, so true, man. I mean, it’s a time for us to get together as a profession and understand that all of us have to give a little bit, you know?
Hassan: Yeah, 100%.
Sorab: That’s exactly why we came up with Deciduous at the end of the day.
Hassan: Yeah. And that’s why Deciduous has grown to what it has is because people have realised we need to come together. And I would also like to add, Deciduous isn’t just me and Sorab. There is a team behind it as well-
Sorab: Who else is there?
Hassan: … who are all doing brilliant. So, it’s myself, Sorab, if I miss anyone please let me know.
Sorab: Oh, gosh. I’ll fill you in.
Hassan: So, it’s myself, Sorab, Zahra, [AJ 00:31:06], Mikey, [Liv 00:31:08], [Kevil 00:31:08], [Cheber 00:31:08], and then… Have I missed anyone there? And then we’ve also got [Alsahlani 00:31:13], who’s a change restorative consultant-
Payman: I know him.
Hassan: … as an advisory role, who’s turned into a mentor as well on certain topics, which is brilliant to have. So, we’ve got a collection of young dentists all across the country. Did I miss out?
Sorab: You missed out [Yuande 00:31:28].
Hassan: Oh, and Yuande as well.
Sorab: Yuande and Kev I think. No, you said Kev, didn’t you?
Hassan: No, I got Kev.
Sorab: Okay, yeah. Yeah, Yuande as well.
Hassan: And Yuande as well who’s just graduated, who again is one of these new dentists that’s coming through who shares very similar principles to what we do and she’s doing brilliantly.
Payman: She’s doing good on the content front. I’ve been watching some of her videos.
Hassan: Yeah. And, see, this is another thing, Payman. I mean, dentistry has changed. Social media now is huge, and I know a lot of the older generation dentists don’t like that. Do they?
Hassan: Some do but then you always hear or see post people being like, oh, these dental Instagrams or Instagram dentists? And it’s again another topic, which is debated, isn’t it?
Payman: Yeah, I think I find it difficult because it’s like saying the internet is bad. The internet is the internet. It’s like, it’s everything. It’s all things. And all things are good and bad.
Hassan: Absolutely. I mean, I’ve connected with so many dentists through Instagram that I’ve not even met. But you build almost like a clinical support hub through Instagram and people send you cases and I definitely suffer from imposter syndrome, and I still do. When I created my Instagram account, and I post the cases sometimes I’m scared, what are people going to think? But what I’ve actually found is more people will give you advice, and say to you, “Oh, you could have done this differently. You could have done that differently.” And I think that’s brilliant because at our stage we need that.
Payman: Yeah. I don’t know if you heard my conversation, our conversation with Jason Smithson, did you?
Hassan: I’ve watched and listened to some others. I’ll be honest, that one I didn’t watch.
Payman: We were talking about this question, and he was saying… And I kind of agree with him to some extent here is that the room that Instagram is isn’t always the best one for learning. Now, that’s not always true because there are some accounts you learn so much from, but it’s a bit short form, isn’t it?
Sorab: Yeah, I agree with you there. I think it depends on where you go on Instagram to learn-
Payman: Of course. But I’m talking as a platform. Why is Deciduous on Facebook? Okay, Facebook has groups. Yeah. But also on Facebook you can write longer form. Of course, you can on Instagram, but no one does.
Sorab: Yeah. No one’s going to read that.
Hassan: Yeah, I think Instagram is a snapshot, isn’t it?
Hassan: You can’t discuss a [inaudible 00:34:02]. I mean, you can and some people do, and they’ve started doing that, but it’s a snapshot.
Payman: But if you want to know why some older dentist feel the way that you’re talking about I don’t know how you feel about TikTok.
Sorab: Hass is a massive fan of TikTok.
Payman: Yeah, so you guys, I know five years seems like a long time here. But before you know it, you’ll be five years in here. And there’ll be a couple of Sorabs and Hass types here who’ll be TikTok dentists.
Hassan: God forbid if there’s another Sorab.
Payman: But there’ll be TikTok dentists. They’ll be telling you, on TikTok you can really connect and learn. Because you saw where it came from, you watched it. You saw the 12-year-olds on it you think, “Oh, this is just rubbish. This can’t be true.” But even TikTok I’m sure will have something about it or Snapchat or whatever it is will have something about it that’s valuable. But that’s that’s where people come from. And then also because it’s the whole world, you end up seeing a lot of crap dentistry on there.
Sorab: Oh, mate, it’s shocking.
Payman: You see a lot of… One thing that is true you see a lot of dentists talking directly to patients. They’re not talking to dentists when they’re posting. And when you’re posting for patients, it’s a different type of post.
Payman: The patient doesn’t have to know when you drilled those teeth, the before or after. Not the drilling bit, or drill that. These are the things. I hear what you’re saying about trolling and all that. But is it really that bad for you? Like you really worry about it like it’s a thing?
Sorab: No, I mean, for me and Hass-
Hassan: I’ve switched off, to be honest, yeah, no.
Sorab: It doesn’t faze me. But I think other people it really affects them. It causes them anxiety, it causes them issues, and it’s just like we just don’t need that. Do you know what I mean?
Hassan: If someone takes their time out to put something negative on a post that you’ve created rather than individually message you to say to you, “Hi, mate, I’ve seen this post. My opinion would be X, Y, Z.” And then you can have a conversation about it-
Sorab: Yeah, that’s the way to go.
Hassan: If they’re going to take that time out to purposefully just ridicule you or troll your post… Am I allowed to swear on-
Payman: Yeah, sure, man.
Hassan: Oh, cool.
Sorab: You’re being so polite.
Hassan: Sorry. To be honest, mate, fuck it. That’s their opinion. People are always going to have opinions. It’s very important, if you’re genuine and true to yourself then that’s it. No one can knock you down if you’re true and genuine to yourself.
Sorab: As long as you’re doing your-
Hassan: The right thing.
Sorab: Yeah, the right thing. Yeah, that’s the little caveat on top.
Payman: Yeah, but look, what I’m trying to say to you is that… I don’t know, how many years have you guys been on social? From the beginning, right? From when you were children, is that right?
Sorab: Whoa. Pretty much I’d say.
Hassan: Not from children-
Sorab: Probably in our teens.
Payman: Yeah. So, what it means to you might be different to what it means to me. I look at it as a marketing platform. Take it for what it is.
Hassan: I think it’s important to just pick your audience, and what your social media account’s purpose is for. That’s the most important thing. And then from there, your cases and whatnot, and what you post is relevant to that particular audience group, if that makes sense.
Payman: Yeah, of course. But it’s so funny, isn’t it? Because we end up talking about social more than anything else in dentistry.
Sorab: It’s because we’re in lockdown. We can’t take any-
Payman: Not always, man. It’s because a lot of times people communicate, like you said, you know people that you’ve never met before, but you actually know them quite well. There’s a photographer in Peru who I think is a really good buddy of mine, but I’ve never met him.
Sorab: International pen pals?
Hassan: It’s just really smart, isn’t it? Look, that’s almost something we should actually be very grateful to have that platform for you to be able to have that connection. But of course it’s got its ugly side, and I think its ugly side can be very detrimental to one’s mental wellbeing. You become obsessed. You watch other people’s cases and you, go, well, my [inaudible] looks like a potato. This person’s looks amazing. What’s going on? Why? But again, that’s part of development, and something we do need to tackle. Did I mentioned Mikey, by the way?
Sorab: You did.
Hassan: I did mention Mikey. Mikey is. Yeah, sorry.
Payman: Out of that group you mentioned I think I know AJ. Is that [Dinar 00:38:38]?
Sorab: Yeah, that’s the one.
Payman: I know Liv. Is it [Scora 00:38:38]?
Hassan: Yeah, Liv Stora.
Payman: I don’t know anyone else in that group. Both AJ and Liv have been on our course.
Sorab: Oh, nice.
Payman: Yeah. Both of them very good, actually.
Hassan: The [inaudible 00:38:57].
Sorab: It’s funny that you were talking about meeting people through social media. That’s how me and AJ connected. We met through social media. I never met him before. And then we did a talk to fifth years at King’s. We did this talk, me and him together. And we were literally just liaising online through PowerPoint and stuff like that. And then at the end of the day students and all you go to the bar, have a couple of drinks. And then guys were like, “Oh, shit, how long have you guys known each other for?” This and the other. And I was like, “I’ve just met him today, mate. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” But it was like, I’ve known him for ages. Yeah, that’s the power of social media.
Payman: Do you feel like you already having to work out what it’s like the mechanics of a practise? Are you learning how to manage people?
Sorab: Your team is the most important thing around you. I had a new nurse join me last week. And I was just bringing her up to speed on how my surgery is, where things are, this, that, and the other. And I just said to her, “Look, at the end of the day, I am only as good as the team around me. And one thing my tutors taught me is you are only as good as your nurse and your technician. If you look after those two people, you’ll do amazing dentistry.”
Hassan: I’d add your receptionist.
Sorab: Yeah, mate. Your receptionist will make or break you.
Hassan: Yeah, that’s crucial.
Sorab: Yeah, they control your life. Always be nice to your receptionist. Always be nice to your nurse. Always be nice to just everyone in the team. I think learning the ins and outs of practise is vital for anyone. Because you’re a team player. If the practise does well, you do well. If you do well, the practise does well. And I think a good associate should add value into his practise. And a good principal should know the value of the good associate. That’s what my ES taught me.
Payman: That’s very true. Did you take the opportunity in your FT year to delve into some of that stuff?
Payman: Did you?
Sorab: Yeah. So, I was very lucky where I was because my ES, Hardeep and Puru. They were completely honest with me. Hardeep was like, “Look, if you want to see the accounts, you can. If you want to see what labs cost, if you want to see what materials cost? Absolutely. Go for it. If you want to help out with calling patients back, this, that and the other, do it.” And now the practise I’m at now in Croydon, my principal, Kunal, at Dental Beauty in Croydon, the way we do things is just insane. Like learning about the whole patient journey, following up with your patients, calling them. It’s that level of service and care. And then just knowing how the team works and the equipment and the level of investment they’ve put into you and into the practise, and making sure you’re using things properly, and knowing how to train the team up. And I think that’s vital.
Hassan: And I think it’s only until you start recognising the costs and the implications that principals face to run the whole place. As an associate, we come to appreciate and understand the stresses they go through. And understanding that and having that transparency with your principal is crucial. So, I sort of just said, Hardeep, is now my principal. Yes. So, having that network is brilliant. And then in the other place I worked, the [inaudible] brothers, so one of them [inaudible 00:42:02], they were very transparent from day one. And they’ve taught me how to do things ethically and correctly, but explained to me the importance of the patient journey and valuing your patient.
Payman: It’s so nice to hear you guys say this stuff, man. I mean, would you say this is you guys are out of the ordinary as far as this stuff goes? Or would you say this is standard? Most FTs are thinking this way or most first year associates are thinking-
Sorab: Oh, great. That’s a difficult question. I think it’s a mixed bag. I mean, I would say to any principal listening to this, just be completely honest and open. I completely understand the financial pressures, and all the CQC pressures or principles are under but don’t screw over your associates. Just be completely honest and transparent with them. Just let them know, “Look, we’re going through some hardships. Is it okay if we do this? Or do you have any ideas?”
Sorab: They’re a team at the end of the day, and I think that’s what my principal did with me. He sat me down. He spoke to me about everything. He says, “Look, we’re going to tackle this as a team. End of the day, we want to make sure this practise is here, and we want to make sure that you have a job at the end.” And I fully respected his openness. And I get things are tough, but you can’t take it out on the team around you. Because when things are up and running, you’re going to rely on these people to help boost you and to get you up and running again. But if you’ve screwed them over in the interim, I don’t think they’re going to be.
Hassan: Associates, yeah, they’ll remember it.
Payman: Tell me something… you must have, some of your friends must have some awful stories. Tell me some awful stories, bring it out. What kind of things have happened to young dentists?
Hassan: For example, if you’ve signed a new contract, and then COVID happens, so say in February you signed a new contract for a certain amount of EDA then COVID happens. And I think the BDA’s advice was to be paid for what you were supposed to be doing like schedule, people not being paid that. Being paid for what they’d actually done. So, for example, if you’d signed a new contract, and you’ve only worked for two, three weeks part-time, and then COVID strikes you wouldn’t have done anywhere near the amount of your days you were supposed to, but you were only being paid for those on a monthly basis, which is not fair.
Payman: Well, let me give you the other side of it. The BDA is advisory, right?
Hassan: Of course.
Payman: So, it’s not like legislator. It’s not making the rules. The BDA is saying that’s what should happen. That’s the way the principal. I hear you, man.
Hassan: I get you, look-
Sorab: I think you need to balance. You need to balance it.
Hassan: It’s the transparency and openness. If your principal… If I was in a scenario, and the principal said to me, “Look, this is the situation. Can we meet on a middle ground? Come in, let’s have a meeting about it. And this is what we’re going to do. Are you happy with this? Are you happy with that?” You shake hands on it, then that’s fine. I think what young dentists and individuals want, and any associate wants is just that transparency with your principal, and that openness. And that direction, and this is where we are, this is where we’re heading. What’s your input? How do you want to make the practise better? What do you think we should do? There should be decisions made with everyone, the whole team. This is a team thing.
Hassan: That’s what I think that’s what I think makes a very successful practise, and provides that holistic patient journey. That’s from the door opening to the receptionist, to the nurse, to the dentist, to the technician, everyone involved. It’s an environment that all needs to be together.
Payman: I mean, I don’t know, I’ve been talking to a lot of dentists, specifically, a lot of our users, right? And I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the way people are thinking about all this. A lot of people are just seeing it as a speed bump, and saying that it’s an opportunity. They’ve been thinking in lockdown about how they can do things better.
Payman: Other than that, maybe it’s self selecting, right? An enlightened user might be at a different stage of his career than someone else. But at the same time because we’ve been doing the podcast and all that, I have heard messages from the other side of the coin. People kind of melting under the stress of it. And both situations are real, but it’s one of those, what you’re saying. Just thinking about transparency, everyone gets an equal shot and…. A lot of times that just comes straight down from the top, the agenda that’s set. And unfortunately, a lot of business isn’t about transparency. A lot of business people don’t want everyone to see the numbers, for instance.
Sorab: Yeah, I mean, I can appreciate that in normal circumstances, but I think with everything that happened with COVID, I think-
Payman: Oh, yeah, of course.
Sorab: It’s all just thrown out the window. I mean, I kind of get it from a business point of view. You don’t want everyone seeing everything, but you need to be transparent enough so that people can understand why you’re making the decisions that are going to affect your team.
Payman: Yeah. It’s sort of where were you headed so everyone knows.
Sorab: Yeah, completely agree.
Hassan: It sounds really cliche, right? But what I’m about to say is very, very cliche. And I do apologise guys, but in the darkest times stars come out, right? And I think what… I know Sorab’s laughing right now [inaudible 00:47:13].
Payman: He’s feeling his feelings.
Hassan: I’m surely in my feeling right now, but the reason why I say that is because COVID’s been a terrible situation, but at the same time, it’s given us that time to slow down and reflect and see, what can we do different going back? You’re seeing individuals doing these video consultations, and completely reconfiguring the way the practise is run, and I think people will bounce back from it. And we have to, we have to.
Payman: Yeah, I think we will. Guys, I’ve been around long enough to been through two big recessions. Don’t get this wrong. This is a recession coming, we’re about to hit. A lot of it is covered up by the furlough situation and so on. But I’ve been around for longer. Dentists generally are more recession proof than a lot of society. And we tend to find a way. I guess it’s like a problem solving kind of thing that we tend to be quite good at as dentists. We tend to find a way when in the end we’re needed by society. But what’s interesting is listening to different people, asking them questions about what they’ve been up to, and so on. And just the incredible business people. When I say business people you might think I’m talking about, and by the way, we have these two. People who own like 400 practises.
Payman: All right, incredible business people. But the incredible business people who just run one practise, and are on it and got their PPE sorted months ago, and got their new procedures in place, and they’ve been told to their teams, and they’ve been doing video consults with their patients. At the end of the day, what is being a business person? It’s taking, serving all those different communities of your… By the way, me, at the end of the day I’m the supplier. Taking the time out at this point in the game where everyone’s talking about SNPs and PPE and all that to talk to their supplier for 40 minutes. Just some incredible business people, man. And I’ve been really pleasantly surprised with what I’ve heard talking to people.
Payman: And I’m really pleasantly surprised with what you guys are saying. I do hope there’s more of it around than just you two. And I know you two are-
Hassan: There is. There are more people. [crosstalk 00:49:46].
Payman: You two must be pretty ambitious type. Sorab, I knew you from before, but you two must be sort of pretty ambitious types to do this Deciduous thing, and you’re clearly into doing the best, and getting the best out of this profession. And my advice to you would be don’t think just because you’re young, you can’t make massive changes to stuff, you can. You definitely can. I met Deepesh when he was a VT, your age, just after VT. And by the way not to get any credit. Because he was very good back then. What I’m saying is you can be really, really… Sometimes a 24-year-old, is that what you are?
Hassan: I’m 25.
Sorab: He’s 25. I’m a little bit older, 28 now.
Payman: My point is sometimes a young man might think he’s-
Hassan: I’m not married, by the way-
Payman: Or a young woman. You’re not married, Sorab. Is that right?
Sorab: Yeah, it’s the same with Has. He’s not married. I think he’s got his data profiles, and all that stuff up and ready, so give him a shout out guys.
Payman: Swipe right. What I say is sometimes you’re a 25-year-old person with a vision and a view. And you want to change the world, and sometimes that 25-year-old kid does change the world, man.
Sorab: Yeah, I completely agree.
Payman: It’s real. It happens.
Hassan: Look, I’ve listened to the individuals you’ve had on this podcast, and the calibre of dentists you’ve had on here. And me and Sorab aspire to be like some of these individuals, but we are hungry. We do have that drive. And we do have that vision. And I think the reason why me and Sorab have become good friends is because we bounce ideas off each other continuously throughout the day. Why don’t we do this? Why don’t we do that? I think he’s called me at one before. I’ve called him at one before. Like, “Should we do this?” And he’s like, “Man, I just want to sleep.” I’m like, “All right. Call me as soon as you wake up.”
Sorab: No, literally. It was literally the other day I was in practise and I get 17 missed calls, and like call me, call me, call me, this, that and the other. I was like, “Jesus Christ, what’s going on? Is he all right? Is he in an accident? What’s going on?” I give him a call and I was like, “Mate, you’re all right?” He was like, “Yeah, we need to reply to Payman.” I was like, “Oh, my days. You could have just texted me this.” He gets… I get it. He gets excited.
Hassan: Yeah, when I get an idea and a vision, I would just sit down and get it done. That’s the way I am. And I think it does rub people off the wrong way sometimes. Sorry, Sorab.
Sorab: It’s all right.
Hassan: I’m just one of those individuals. I like to get things done when I need to get them done.
Sorab: Yeah, I mean, the one criticism that we’ve been given is people keep saying, “You’re not dreaming. You’re not thinking big enough.” And that kind of shifted the way we were thinking about things, and we’re like, “You know what, maybe we do need to take things bigger. Maybe we do need to go slightly further ahead in this, that, and the other. And that’s when we decided, you know what, let’s… I mean, this was before COVID when we were thinking about helping people and people saying dream big. And then we were like, “Well yeah, let’s do this Deciduous thing,” and we got it styled. We never knew we were going to have this kind of support from young dentists or these kind of numbers-
Hassan: The feedback.
Payman: What have you got? How many have you got?
Sorab: Oh, gosh-
Hassan: So, we’ve got 2500 members. And then on our Instagram we’ve got 1200, and it’s growing. Look, Deciduous started off as a WhatsApp group. I invited people in, and within a few hours we had over 50 people, and I was like, “This is too much.” That went on to a Facebook group, and in a space of two months. So, just some figures for you. Our engagement, our impressions, we’ve got 32.6K impressions. These are big numbers.
Payman: Yeah, there’s a lot of activity on that group, man. A lot of activity.
Hassan: The reason being though as well is because it’s needed-
Payman: By the way, can anyone join or do you have to be younger than a certain age?
Hassan: No. No, no, no.
Sorab: There’s a strict criteria now because way you see our Facebook-
Hassan: And we’re going to make it stricter.
Sorab: Yeah, the Facebook thing, it’s there’s no advertising. There’s no people from advertising or anything like that. It’s completely ad free to protect our members, and to keep things genuine.
Payman: When you say ad free what would you do if I go on there and say, “Hey, buy Enlighten.”
Sorab: I’ll delete it.
Hassan: Delete it.
Sorab: I’ll delete it straight away.
Payman: By the way, you wouldn’t let me in, in the first place because I’m too old. Is that right?
Hassan: No, see, that’s the thing. So, we said, I’m going to be very transparent because, so we said to individuals and the team. We said, “Look, why don’t we say put a year of 2015 qualification?” The reason being is because we’re around the same generation of dentists going through dental school and the pressures and the stresses we’re facing. Having someone who’s in that group that has seven multiple practises in their ’60s and is retired isn’t really going to add too much value in regards to foundation training or the process of that or dental core training, which a lot of young dentists are asking us about. That’s what people want to know more about. What specialising etc.
Hassan: However, if someone wants to really want to join the group, and they think that they can add value to it they’re welcome to message the admin team and say, “Look, this is my experience. I’d love to give advice on maybe running a practise, etc.” We’d allow them in, but they need to add value to the group.
Hassan: We want our members to feel safe. To feel like they can post cases and ask and get advice, and ultimately not feel like a shark pit is out there to bite them.
Payman: Yeah, but what I’m saying is that I saw the group about… I don’t know when it was, when you started, I guess, a couple of months ago was it when you started?
Hassan: Yeah, it was April.
Payman: I saw it. I got to the page where it said, who the hell are you? And it kind of put me off, right? It said, “When did you qualify for something?” Does it?
Hassan: Yeah. That’s one of the questions.
Payman: And it says, the young dental forum, and I just thought, “Oh, forget it, man. That’s not for me.” Now, obviously, you wanted that. You want the thing populated with young dentists. But at the same time, I’m super interested in what young dentists are thinking. Not only for my own selfish goals because-
Hassan: Yeah, and we spoke, didn’t we? We spoke.
Payman: But it’s different because you know me, I know you, it’s different. But what I’m saying it’s if I was just some dude who turned up, I just wouldn’t even apply because it puts you off. It’s cool if you’re saying, you just want it to be populated with young people.
Hassan: It’s not a case of we want it to be populated with young people. It’s we want-
Payman: The right people.
Hassan: … it to be populated with individuals that are going through the same journeys, and the same struggles. And I think that’s the most important thing.
Payman: But don’t you think you just end out with it’s just a pure sharing thing rather than getting… Like this guy you’re saying who has six practises could contribute to the thing there.
Hassan: Exactly. And I feel like if they really wanted to… If they wanted to actively add value to Deciduous we want to know because I want to know how to run a practise, and so does Sorab or how to have a business, something like that. But they need to actively approach us in a way that’s going to benefit Deciduous and add value to the members. Because that’s what people are asking on that group. People want to know, do I do dental core training? How do I specialise? What is a CV? What is tax? How do I control my money as an associate? Things that aren’t taught at dental school.
Sorab: Yeah, I think just to add on to that, we want people that are in line with our vision and our ethos. I completely agree. If someone’s got six practises and stuff, and they get put off because of the questions we’ve got on the group they’ll message one of the admin team or they’ll know about us through our Instagram because we’re a lot more open on Instagram. And they’ll start a dialogue, and it’s happened. We’ve had consultants. We’ve had specialists who have messaged us saying they want to get involved. And then one of the things we’ll ask them is, “Well, what do you bring to the table? What’s your ethos? Why do you want to help young dentists?” And then we sort of… It’s almost like an informal interview. And then they’ll come to us and say, “Oh, well, I can bring this, this, and this, and I want to do this” and then we’re like, “Oh, yeah, that sounds amazing. Put it together, and let’s get it out there.
Payman: I guess what I’m asking you dude here is it would be lovely if you… I’m sure you have. I bet this is what happens when Hassan calls you at 2:00 AM. But it’d be lovely if you told me there’s more to it or you’ve got more dreams, plans and dreams.
Sorab: There’s a few big projects.
Payman: Go on, give me… Go on. Or you’re going to keep it secret?
Hassan: Well, rule number one is you don’t always play [inaudible 00:58:25].
Sorab: We’re definitely thinking much bigger. So, I don’t think there’s any worry about that. But we’re trying to be different.
Hassan: We don’t want to just… Look, we’ve achieved amazing things by growing organically without having to promote and advertise. And the feedback and the responses from young dentists who have reached out for us it’s been remarkable. We created a mock series in a case of a week for dental schools. That’s never been done before, and we didn’t charge anyone because we genuinely just wanted to help.
Payman: I saw that, and I saw the feedback from it. It really looked like a lovely project what you did.
Hassan: Can you imagine, young fifth years, COVID and then they had finals. We were like, right, we need to help them. We’re going to do a CV workshop soon. What is a CV? What is a portfolio? How to do a CV, etc. Another thing we did, which has never been done before. You’ve got all these big organisations, etc. Deciduous did this, and we united foundation dentists who had just found out their schemes. So, by being part of this network it’s not just a case of where you post cases and get advice. It’s actually a way of networking with other young dentists. And it’s almost like a catalyst. And that’s our vision with it, and it is going to hopefully turn into a network not just on a Facebook forum.
Payman: You still haven’t told me anything, right?
Sorab: Well, put it this way, some of some of these bigger organisations that say they look out for young dentists. They kind of haven’t, and what we’ve done in the space of two months on our own with no financial backing whatsoever is phenomenal. If we had the backing to take it… Imagine if we had the budget that the BDA committee had or if we had the budget that some young dentist committee of whatever society there is out there, if we have that kind of budget, imagine what we could have done. And then me and Hass were thinking, why not? Let’s try and transition to even bigger plans.
Hassan: He still wants to know these plans, Sorab. That’s the thing.
Sorab: I don’t know if I can tell him. Oh, there’s one thing I want to say though.
Payman: What’s going to happen? Some other group’s going to learn your idea and rip it off?
Sorab: Bring it on, man. Bring it on with that competition.
Payman: Is that what you mean? Is that what you’re talking about?
Hassan: It does happen. No, it does happen, doesn’t it though? You’d know out of all individuals, but I guess competition is healthy competition because ultimately if we’re doing the right thing for young dentists-
Payman: No, listen guys. Guys listen. What happens this is how organisations of any sort happen. A couple of guys are really into it. They say, “Hey, why not?” And it all starts with a beautiful thing, and then six others join and it’s like, yeah. Let’s build a committee, and then it builds, builds, builds.
Hassan: And in the moment.
Payman: That’s where you’re at, you’re just there, yeah?
Hassan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Payman: But then, okay. What is your dream come true in three years time for this organisation? Listen, if you told me, “Oh, I know. We’re going to we’re going to build a little corporative of young dentists who are going to go buying group to get stuff cheap from a…” All right. Great. Are you worried that the young dentists committee of the BACD is going to copy that idea? Is that what you’re saying?
Hassan: No, no.
Payman: Come of it, man. Maybe it’s because that wasn’t a very good idea.
Hassan: Yeah, that was a terrible idea.
Sorab: I was like, well, I really don’t want that.
Payman: Come on, man. Tell me something. Throw a guy a bone.
Hassan: Oh, Sorab, should we just do it, your idea?
Sorab: Go for it, mate. Tell him.
Hassan: So, basically, I’d love there’d be a way to unite say, young dentists or associates with potential principals on a network where you can say… Think like a matching way of-
Payman: Speed dating.
Hassan: … speed dating jobs.
Sorab: Pretty much, yeah.
Hassan: We want to do conferences. We want to do courses. Look, when was the last time a young dentist in their 22, 23, 24 went to the BDA conference and bought a dental chair and came out with some CEREC machine. It doesn’t happen. 10% of that is applicable. I don’t know the number. But not all of that is applicable to young dentists. Why don’t we do a conference or something that’s smaller scale that’s directly to this age group, or not age group, but stage of their career. Why don’t we do something that’s going to tackle the struggles young dentists go through? Rather than just patch it up? Start it from the bottom up. Why don’t we look at what is it that causes stress for young dentist? The anxiety of the litigation. Let’s put systems in place to solve that.
Payman: Yeah. Absolutely. With a big party at the end, right?
Hassan: There’s always a party, but that’s the
Payman: See, that’s a good idea. By the way, it’s not a new idea. That’s a good idea, though. That is a good idea.
Hassan: No, it’s not new.
Payman: My point I’m trying to get to you, dude, is that the idea is nothing. It’s execution that’s the point. Literally the idea is nothing. Don’t worry about telling people about your ideas because you need to tell people. You needed to tell me this. Okay, maybe you didn’t want to tell me on air. But you needed to tell me this so that I could tell you about how to organise a conference and what to do about that and what my experience with that is, and so on, and so forth. If you keep all your ideas, these sort of ideas to yourself, you’ll miss out on a bunch of help.
Payman: That other organisation that you’re so worried is going to copy your idea. It’s just one little issue. It’s really not the big picture. The big picture is all those other people who will help you when you tell them what you’re going to do.
Hassan: Yeah, and to be honest with you, even that is good advice for us because we are still learning this whole thing-
Hassan: What we do have is we are genuine about it.
Payman: I can see that.
Hassan: That you can’t… No matter who comes out with any other idea, our drive and how genuine we are about what we want to do, that will take us further than anything. We might actually reach out to you.
Payman: Of course, guys.
Hassan: When we need that advice. How we do this conference? But look, I’m just going to put it out there. Me and Sorab spoke about this, and I don’t know if any dental core trained individual or any foundation person is listening. Some aspects of how you get into your foundation’s scheme are crap. You do a static… What’s it called, Sorab? Oh, SJT.
Sorab: What does that stand for?
Payman: Situational Judgement Test.
Hassan: Situational Judgement Test, yeah, snap. That bases your next stage of your career and things like that. We want to go into the deeper aspects like what Sorab mentioned about the emotional, intelligence, the soft skills, these things need to be taught. If we can find a way to maybe-
Sorab: I mean, I’m just going to be very blunt and just say, I’d love to take over the DFT selection process. I’d love to take it away from COPDEND because I don’t think they’re doing a great job. And they’ve failed three, four years in a row, and they’ve causeda hell of a lot if issues.
Hassan: Especially this year.
Sorab: A hell of a lot of issues. And I’m just like, they’ve essentially just outsourced to a computer analytic company to come up with the SJT that’s not really relevant to anything to save cost, and I get that. I do. I get that from a business point of view. But it’s kind of doing a disservice. You spend five years learning all the little nuances of dentistry to do a test that has nothing to do with your clinical ability. And that’s how you’re meant to filter your candidates. It doesn’t make sense. So, I’d love to be able to try and make that process a lot more seamless and a bit more fairer going forward. And just try and make it better. If we can improve that, why not?
Sorab: If anyone from COPDEND is listening, if you want to work with us, reach out to us. We’re more than happy to give you advice, to help, to consult, and try and make it a better system. That’s what we want. We just want to make things better for young dentists and ultimately for the profession as a whole. And we’ve got the ideas, we’ve got the reach, we’ve got the manpower. We can come up with things that these guys don’t think of because most of these people, if you look at COPDEND, they’re what? 50 plus. They’re quite old. They’ve been around for ages and dentistry is completely different now to what it used to be. You get someone new and they’ve got a tonne of ideas and a brand new perspective, there you go.
Payman: I think COVID’s been a wonderful time for this because… All right. I’m not practising , so I haven’t got this problem, and most dentists are spending 80, 90% of their lives in the restoration, in the mouth.
Sorab: Oh, wow, that got deep, yeah.
Payman: And so, you’ve got that 10% that you can do… In a practise situation, it will be work on the practise rather than in the practise, that idea. Or some people are like as you go on a bit further, somebody will take a whole day off to work on the practise not in the practise. But in COVID we’ve all had time to think. And the amount of… You must have seen the stuff that [inaudible] has been putting out about the PPE and all that and aerosols.
Payman: And just there’s so much talent, and by the way, I’m not saying all of you stop practising dentistry. There’s so much talent outside of the mouth, outside of doing that treatment, that’s now kind of be unleashed a little bit during this COVID period because people have had time to just think. Some people have done amazing webinars. I’m very interested in what you’re saying. So, I can expect from what… So, deciphering what you’re saying we can expect a Deciduous conference?
Hassan: Yeah, I mean, absolutely.
Payman: Are you going to ask your members to pay at one point or is it [inaudible] going to pay for conferences?
Hassan: It’s always a sensitive one this, isn’t it? But to be honest with you, if we feel like whatever we put on is going to add value. And we have resources that are limited and time then yeah, we will. But we’ll do it in a way that’s fair. And I’ve done courses, and Sorab has done courses, and if we feel like that particular things is going to add value to us we’ll be happy to pay.
Hassan: At the end of the day, look, our time is also valuable. We’ve put so much effort into this, as is our teams. We’d love to be able to do everything for free. But unfortunately, the real world doesn’t let you do that. We don’t live in that state. We’re not blinded by that, don’t worry, but our main purpose is to add value and be true to what we stand for. So we’re not going to start ripping people off and then turn it into some profit making capitalist adventure or whatnot.
Payman: Sounds great, guys. Sounds great. Hopefully you keep those… It’s really important you keep those basic principles of the organisation running as it evolves. So, it sounds like you’ve got those very clear right now. That sort of ethical, helping each other, being positive angle. It’s really important as it evolves, as it gets bigger, as it gets more successful and more people come into it, that you keep those basic principles going throughout. And listen, every single organisation starts out wanting that to be true, but not everyone manages it. So, really important that you do, but speaking to-
Hassan: We’re not naive. We know we face a lot of obstacles.
Payman: But it looks like you’ve got your good head on your shoulders, both of you. And so, if there are more like you the future’s bright. The future is bright. How much work do you guys put into it every day?
Sorab: It kind of doesn’t feel like work. It varies man. It varies. It might be a couple of hours a day to I think the most other that I spend on Deciduous was probably-
Payman: Doing what, man?
Sorab: Just putting stuff together like the graphic design, the workshops, the timetables, replying to messages. I’ve had over… Gosh, it’s like at least over 200 messages in my inbox alone replying back to individual students.
Hassan: You’re all right, mate. Everyone’s sliding into your DMS now.
Sorab: Just people that we help now. Just people we’d help. Nothing more nothing less. That is it. Hass has been on a bit of a sneaky one, but that’s a different story. But yeah, it varies. I mean, it might be putting together a poster. It might be working out logistics with a clinician. It might be posting this thing-
Hassan: Where we’re doing a live webinar or discussing with a specialist about their pathway, and we’ve a great series of those. I mean, when we did the video, we did a small trailer for Deciduous. I spent all night. I was up all night trying to do that. And do you know what? Credit to anyone that does video editing.
Sorab: Yeah, that’s amazing.
Hassan: Because it’s bloody so difficult.
Payman: It’s hard work.
Sorab: But it’s also putting systems in place so that when we do go back to work, our team has the freedom to focus on all the bigger projects, and what we’ve got in place will just run itself. So trying to have systems in place where it works.
Payman: All right, man. I mean, I wish Prav was here because he could ask all of his wonderful questions that he asks, but it’s been a real education talking to you guys. I’m really pleased about the way that you guys are looking at it. And if we can help anyway along the line then make sure you let us know. Very good.
Sorab: Yeah, we’ll do.
Sorab: Thank you so much for having us on.
Hassan: We really do appreciate it. Thank you very much for having us on.
Payman: Of course, guys, well done. You do a really good job. I would have a look at that little page at the beginning that puts people off, man. Because if I was just a regular dentist and I saw that and I just wouldn’t see it and then wouldn’t go on. And it’s been such a positive experience reading all this stuff these last few days that you’ve given me access so graciously.
Sorab: If we put a little sentence in there saying, yeah, if you’re an older dentists and you feel as if you can add value, email us.
Payman: Yeah. Something like that.
Sorab: Something like that?
Payman: Something like that.
Hassan: Well, we’ll work on something.
Sorab: Well, we’ll put that in place.
Payman: All right, guys. Well, really, really well done-
Hassan: Thank you very much for having us.
Payman: Well done, Hassan. Good job, Sorab, mate.
Sorab: Thank you so much, man. Give [inaudible] a chat-
Sorab: I hope he’s doing all right.
Payman: Yeah. And hopefully, we see each other in real life at one point.
Sorab: I hope so too.
Payman: Thanks a lot, guys.
Hassan: Thank you guys, cheers.
Sorab: Thank you, Payman. Bye-bye.
Outro Voice: This is Dental Leaders, the podcast where you get to go one on one with emerging leaders in dentistry. Your hosts, Payman Langroudi and Prav Solanki.
Prav: Thanks for listening guys. If you got this far, you must have listened to the whole thing. And just a huge thank you both from me and Pay for actually sticking through and listening to what we had to say, and what our guests had to say because I’m assuming you got some value out of it.
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