Have the freebie magazines gone too far?

dr-drillThe editorial from October 2012′s edition of CPD Scotland follows below. We would like as many people as possible to join the debate, so please read and share your own thought through the comments button below and pass it on, share on Facebook, etc.  Anonymous posting will not be accepted though as this could lead to multiple posts, spamming, etc, so please leave your name with your comment.

“We have deliberately decided to take CPD Scotland in a new direction. This decision has been spurred on by the direction the freebie dental press has taken over the last few years. We in the FGDP, and many of our colleagues, are uncomfortable with the direction dentistry is taking as a result.

The magazines are not run by dentists, they are essentially cash cows for publishing companies to maximise advertising revenue from the dental trade. They also employ a whole host of marketing ploys to increase their circulation. They espouse to be representative of the profession but we dispute this fact.

For one we feel that they are bringing the profession into disrepute with a plethora of awards such as Dentist of the Year, Scottish Dentistry Top 20 and Most Influential Dentist. These poorly conceived awards, with no clear marking criteria and standardisation, are more akin to the world of hairdressing (no offence to the fraternity of hairdressers) than the profession of dentistry.

In the past, these awards could have been regarded as a bit of fun. Only a handful of dentists got involved while the rest of the profession remained silent and got on with looking after patients. But now we face the spectre of these fatuous awards bombarding us from billboards, on websites, in emails and the local press and on practice stationery. It is not uncommon for dentists to list their awards as if they were postgraduate qualifications. It wasn’t very difficult coming up with material for our Dr Drill cartoon series which parodies this behaviour.

The FGDP is the academic home of GDPs. As such we feel it is our duty to comment on the culture of celebrity dentistry. We are worried about the example it sets to younger members of the profession. We should be encouraging GDPs to follow sound postgraduate pathways and not pursuing the dental equivalent to reality TV. We are not alone. Professor Trevor Burke’s recent editorial in Dental Update laments the loss of professionalism within dentistry. Martin Kelleher’s series of articles in the same journal echoed these sentiments.

We feel it is time for the silent majority to have their say here.

Perhaps, we have read the situation wrong. In fact we are happy to stand corrected on this. However, one thing is certain, it is high time that we have a debate on this. We need to put these awards and magazines into the context they deserve within the profession. So we are inviting comment from all sides. We plan to set up a blog on our website where you can comment – we are sure it will make interesting reading! Alternatively you can email us at or write to us and we’ll publish your replies. We will report back in the Spring edition of CPD Scotland.

In the meantime FGDP(UK) Scotland would like to get together with other quality providers of dental CPD within Scotland.  We’ll highlight the work you do in our twice-yearly CPD newsletter and intend to circulate it free to all dentists in Scotland. In this edition you’ll find details of the Scottish Endodontic Study Group, Glasgow Odontological Society and The ITI study group. All of these groups have been working away in the background below the radar of the freebie dental press providing excellent CPD for dentists.

In fact if there are any other like-minded groups that would like to get involved with us, we would be delighted for you to get on board. You can send us your timetables, contact details or any stories of dental interest. We will not charge groups for their articles to promote their study groups. There will be no product driven articles planted by trade companies. There will be no articles from dental specialists touting for referrals.

We hope to make a difference. We are certainly going to give it a shot!

Conor O’Malley

Director of the west of Scotland division of FGDP (UK)”