Association members save more than the cost of membership on insurance, legal fees, CPD activities, and much more. ELAINE HUGHES explains the business case for membership.

There has always been a higher argument than business for membership of the Association. The ability to have a voice in your profession, the case for professional solidarity, the right to lobby on behalf of the interests of oral health of the population, and the occasion to interact with fellow professionals, remain compelling reasons in their own right to be a member of the Irish Dental Association.

However, there is also a commercial imperative to join the Association, which arises from three major issues: the need for legal and business advice for the many dentists who are also practice principals, or indeed associates; the enormous savings to be made in availing of group schemes negotiated for members by the Association; and, the requirement to participate in continuing professional development (CPD) activities. In all cases, the savings made by members exceed the cost of membership very significantly.

Legal advice

There is no doubt that our dental schools continue to provide the profession with a steady stream of talented and committed clinicians.

What our dental schools do not prepare dentists for is the fact that so many of them become, within a relatively short period of time, owners of a small or medium-sized business enterprise (SME). What many dentists (indeed most SMEs in any sector) do not realise is that the responsibilities of a business owner are mammoth. Employment law in Ireland is comprehensive and can be overwhelming. Holiday leave, maternity leave, contracts for employees, and record keeping all place an enormous onus on the practice principal.

The Association employs a full-time Employment and Communications Officer, Sarah Gill, who is qualified as a solicitor.

Sarah provides advice to members on all employment-related matters. More than that, the Association provides members with pro forma contracts for all types of employment. Members, as a consequence, do not need to go to a local solicitor to take employment advice, as it is provided in-house for them and included in their membership fee. The annual subscription is significantly less than the fees likely to be charged by a solicitor for the same advice.

In the case of dealing with employment contracts, the Association has them already prepared and Sarah can help adjust them to the precise requirements of the member.

Bear in mind the quality of this advice too. While all solicitors are experts in the law, how many are experts in the area of dentistry and the precise requirements of the issues around employment in dentistry? This was particularly highlighted by the recent Revenue Commission investigations into contracts with associates. The actions of the Association, and the negotiations and discussions with the Revenue Commissioners, ensured that any dentist that followed advice given by the Association was unlikely to face any difficulty.

Financial savings of membership

The Association has, over many years, negotiated a wide range of group schemes that provide members with huge savings on items that are necessary expenditures in any practice.

The annual saving made by members on their professional indemnity insurance with dental protection, by virtue of the fact that they are members, is estimated at an average of €1,005. That figure is greater, by a wide margin, than the highest rate of subscription paid by any member. Even the most cynical or sceptical dentist can save themselves the cost of their subscription by joining, even if they never needed employment advice or to avail of the many other group schemes in place. And there are many of those.

Insurance schemes are not limited to professional indemnity. Practice, home and car insurance group schemes are all provided by Glennons, while the income protection scheme (particulary essential for the self-employed) is provided on a day one basis through Omega Financial Management.

€4,000 coverage

When faced with a tax audit by the Revenue Commissioners, members can claim €4,000 against the cost of having their accounts prepared for the audit under the Association’s group insurance policy through DAS.

And that’s just the financial benefit: the Association also provides essential advice on what to expect in an audit and how to prepare properly for that audit.

A new credit card commission deal has also recently been negotiated with AIB Card Services. As this is now the most common form of payment by patients, the reduction in commission rates charged by the card companies can result in a healthy annual saving for members.

There are several other superb deals from other suppliers, which are only available to members. Savings of up to €800 against the cost of loupes can be made with Swordfish Medical. Ballygowan have signed up to a deal on water coolers for members, while magazines for waiting rooms can be obtained at very attractive rates through DLT Magazines.

Websites for members can be obtained from Think Media at a discounted rate. These websites can range from basic up to the most sophisticated, mobile-enabled formats, depending on the need and budget of members.

CPD provision

All dentists know that continuing professional development (CPD) is compulsory, and when the new Dental Bill is enacted, 20 hours of annual CPD activity will be a legal requirement. The Association is the leading national provider of CPD and already provides sufficient events, courses, seminars, and material to enable members to meet all their CPD requirements with ease. This CPD activity is either free or is provided at a 50% discount for members. Association CPD activities include: seminars; branch meetings; workshops; hands-on courses; the CPD Roadshow; the Annual Conference; and, the annual Practice Management Seminar, which provides practical business advice and is solely for members.

Mutual support

In addition to all of the above, the Association is the home of dentistry in Ireland. Our meetings and events allow dentists to talk about issues of mutual concern. The value of networking and mutual support, and the value of learning from each other is enormous. The price is an annual subscription. We think it’s the best value a dentist will find anywhere.