What led you to first get involved in the IDA?
I qualified in 1994, and went away to work in England and Northern Ireland. When I returned to the Republic to set up in practice in 1997, I joined the Association straight away. Initially, I didn’t take an active role – I went to lectures and meetings, but nothing major. Back then I was younger, and the IDA didn’t seem to have a huge amount of relevance to me. But I think that over the years the Association has changed a lot and improved in terms of the level of services that it offers to members.
How did your involvement progress?
I saw that there was no general practice representative from my area on the IDA’s GP Committee, so I decided to give it a go. Until then, for me the IDA was an association in Dublin; I’d never been to the offices, and wasn’t really aware of everything that went on there. In the last few months I was asked to go on the IDA Council as a GP rep.
What has your involvement in the IDA meant to you?
There is a lot to gain from membership. The IDA operates a huge amount of services, which, to my mind, are way ahead of what they were before. You can save money on indemnity, and the Association also offers mentoring, and general assistance in terms of employment law, and best practice for dentists.
The website also contains a lot of information. You can join in on discussions in the discussion forums without leaving your room! I would encourage members to take a more active role, even if it is only logging on to the website, getting a user name and looking at the discussion forums to see what people are thinking.
A lot of people are very passive members, as I was. They pay their sub every year and might go to the odd meeting but they don’t really do anything beyond that. Dentistry is quite a lonely profession. A lot of dentists are like me – single-handed – and wouldn’t have much interaction with their colleagues. I’ve found by being on the GP Committee, and talking to colleagues, that many other dentists have the same problems and the same opinions on things that we don’t ever really vocalise with each other because we’re just working away by ourselves.
What has been the single biggest benefit of IDA membership for you?
Being aware you’re not the only one who thinks in a certain way and that a lot of problems and views are common has been very important. Being on the GP Committee, I see that it’s the same all over the country – our views are very similar.
How would you like to see the Association progress into the future?
We have to be unified. I do feel in the future that as the economy improves, and the Government brings in new dental schemes, unless we speak with a single voice we’re going to be trampled upon. In the past dentists have been very poor at standing up for themselves – we’ve just accepted whatever the Government has given us. I see the IDA having a role in unifying everybody so that our voices are heard. I always thought over the years that the Association was just this distant big body that didn’t have anything to offer me – but there is a lot that people are unaware of.
When not doing ‘a bit of everything’ in his practice in Nenagh, John likes to run and has completed several marathons – he finds it great for mental and physical well being. He also has a busy sideline as ‘Dad’s taxi’ for his three kids.