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To be a dentist, or to be a specialist? That is the question

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To be a dentist, or to be a specialist? That is the question

Haris Batley graduated in 2008 from The University of Manchester. He worked in a general practice before commencing foundation training in an Oral and Maxillo Facial Surgery.

In this article he shares a very personal account of his decision making process and reasons for making the choices he did when selecting postgraduate dental training. He feels this advice would have been useful to him as a young dentist.

Haris explains: "Dentistry is one the best decisions that I have made in my life. It is a very rewarding career. One of the best things about it is that there are a variety of challenges and specialities we can enter into - if we want to.

The month I graduated from dental school was the same month I got married - probably the best year of my life! I then did Dental Foundation Training Year 1 (back then it was known as Vocational Training… shows I'm getting old). I always knew that I wanted to specialise in something - but I wasn't 100% sure in what. To be honest, I hadn't fully experienced what dentistry was.

Back then deaneries didn't have Dental Foundation Training Year 2 posts, (there was General Professional Training (General Professional Training) for which you had to apply whilst in university). So I made the decision to carry on in General Practice, especially as my wife was expecting our baby and the money would help. General practice was very enjoyable; meeting new people, doing a broad range of treatments and having the freedom of working when you wanted to, the hours you wanted, plus the pay was good.

After three years, I decided enough was enough and it was now or never to get on a specialty pathway. Over this time, the pathways had changed and were continuing to do so. General Professional Training had finished and Dental Foundation Training year 2 and Career Development Posts had been introduced. Special care dentistry had become a specialty in its own right and national recruitment was starting to take over Dental Foundation Training year 1 and orthodontic applications. Depending on which one you wanted to do, you had the option of part-time or full- time, through a deanery, university or a dental organisation, and bursaries were available.

The speciality training posts required hospital experience and CDP required Dental Foundation Training year 2 completion. I felt I was stuck and my chance had gone past as I read the person specifications for the Dental Foundation Training year 2 and CDP posts. They seemed to want people who had qualified more recently than I and continued on in hospital dentistry from Dental Foundation Training year 1.

Through practise I decided I wanted to do paediatric dentistry or orthodontics. Both were full time training posts. That meant that I would need to take a huge pay cut and work more (thereby see less of my wife and child). Plus I would need to relocate or commute further.

But with my family's support I applied to the Dental Foundation Training year 2 and CDP positions around the UK. I emailed a few deaneries to ask for advice regarding my situation. Most of them replied to say apply and see what happens and luckily, I obtained a Dental Foundation Training year 2 post and that's where I am now.

I am sure there are a few people in a similar situation to me. My advice is do not take too long to decide what you want to do, two years post-qualification should allow you enough time. Whilst you are deciding, look into what the different specialities require for entrance and how you can achieve that. Does that fit in with your circumstances and where you want to end up in the future? It's a good idea to have a few audits and publications under your belt as well as having a link with a dental hospital. Also pick a non-Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Dental Foundation Training year 2 post as they have more variety and there are always Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Senior House Officer posts about.

At the end of the day, you WILL have a qualification and job to fall back on- even it if means doing locum posts for a few months. Like I said, challenges, variety and flexibility. I love dentistry- hope you do too.

Top Tips

  • Don't take too long to decide what you want to do
  • Use your spare time to write article and publications
  • Think about your individual circumstances and amend your choices accordingly
  • Discuss your options with your contacts and listen to their advice and opinions
  • Make a connection with a dental hospital"

Helpful Links

copdend.org - information about postgraduate education and deaneries.
jobs.nhs.uk - available training posts are sometimes advertised here.
nature.com/bdjjobs - available training posts are sometimes advertised here.
ucas.ac.uk - information about universities and postgraduate qualifications can be found from here.

Haris Batley
batleyharis@hotmail.com


 

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