A Guide to the DF1 Application Process: My Experience
Natalie studied at The University of Newcastle and qualified June 2014. She has written this article as a guide for final year dentists to help them through the job application process. Natalie say's "I would have found this type of guide very useful when applying for DF1 last year"
So it's approaching that time of year again: DF1 Recruitment
This will be the fourth year that final year dental students will use a national recruitment system to secure a place with what was previously known as vocational training (VT), now dental foundation year one (DF1).
Here, I will outline the application process and share my experience of it so that those of you who will be applying, will have more of an idea of what to expect.
The Application Process
Step one - know your deadlines
This is very important! Make sure you know them: from registration, filling in the application form, submitting your preferences and of course, those all-important interview dates!
A list of provisional deadlines can be found on the COPDEND website.
If you want to apply to work in Scotland, they use a different system with different deadlines so make sure you know those too!
Step two - register with the London deanery
Step three - fill in the correct application form
Remember to include two referees (mine were both clinicians) and remember to ask their permission before putting them down.
And of course, submit it by the deadline!
Step four - decide where you want to work
The list of schemes is released around the end of September, but you can provisionally list your preferences before this if you want using the previous year's scheme list as a guide, they do not tend to vary that much.
What I would recommend is focusing on the order of your top ten and also your bottom ten.
Also be aware of the popular schemes: usually London, schemes which are close to Dental Schools and also GPT schemes. If you think you'd like to work in any of these, you should definitely put them first, otherwise you're unlikely to get offered a place there.
Don't get too hooked up on the ordering of the schemes in the middle, you'd make better use of your time preparing for the interview.
And again, submit your preferences before the deadline!
Step five - know your interview date, time and location
The dates and locations can also be found on the COPDEND website, but your specific interview time will be emailed out to you.
Also make sure you have all the documents that you might need, a list of which is usually attached to the email with your offer for interview.
Step six - prepare, prepare, prepare!
This shouldn't be the last thing you do! You should start preparing as soon as possible.
Newcastle prepared us very well for the interviews, but I know not all dental schools offer preparation.
Whilst a lot of my preparation was in the form of workshops run by the dental school, I also undertook extra reading and interview practise at home. Here is what I would recommend:
1. Attend any and all the preparation your university organises for you
This could be lectures, interview practice, seminars or workshops.
2. Register with the BDA
They send out a final year guide every year which is very useful with example scenarios.
3. Practise scenarios
Practise with your friends, partners, colleagues, clinicians, tutors, basically anyone you can get your hands on!
4. Practise situational judgement tests (SJT)
These can be more difficult than you expect and the SJT is an important part of your assessment, look at some examples and take this practice test.
5. Know everything there is to know about Clinical Governance
6. Finally get to know all about those companies who have been sponsoring your Dentsoc events over the years
BDA, Dental Protection, MedDen, Wesleyan, Dentist Provident, IDH, Oasis etc.
7. Read the GDC's bible: their Standards for Dental Professionals
This is probably the most important document you should take a look at.
Last minute advice
Don't lose your head!
It'll probably be the most nervous day you've ever had, but don't panic! Take deep breaths, have a good breakfast, stay hydrated and remember everyone is in the same boat!
Remember to take all your required documents
These are listed in your email containing your offer for interview.
Also if you know somebody who has had their interview before yours, don't talk to them!
There are lots of different scenarios and it'll just distract you. If you've prepared properly and as long as you think before you speak, you'll do fine!
Arrive in plenty of time and look the part
First impressions count so dress smartly, it is an interview after all
How is the day organised?
The order of the day will vary according to which group you're put in, but if it's the same as last year there will be three parts:
1. Communication station - you will be given the scenario to read before you enter the station and its lasts ten minutes.
2. Professionalism and leadership station - again you will be given the scenario before entering and is also ten minutes.
3. Situational Judgement Test - this was 90 minutes last year, which was just enough time in my opinion.
And now that it's over you can celebrate, you've earned it!
This is the most excruciating day ever (well, maybe finals results day was worse).
I didn't get my offer until around 4pm, but I know people received their emails through much later than that. Do something that will distract you during the day, otherwise you'll just be checking your emails every two minutes.
Get offered a place?
Accept it there and then!
I've heard horror stories of people losing their places as they forgot to accept their offer within 48 hours.
Well done! Even if it's not your first choice! It's only a year and at least you have a job offer!
Now you just have to wait to hear from your deanery. This varies per scheme, mine didn't get in touch until April time so expect a wait.
Didn't get an offer?
There is a lot of support out there for you: last year there was a support group on Facebook you could join and your Dental School should provide support and advice for you.
Don't be disheartened
All the people I knew who didn't get offers first time around received them on second allocation in June! There is never a 100% pass rate for BDS, some people defer, and some give up their places when they get offers in Scotland and sometimes more training places become available. What's more, most of the people I knew obtained one of their top choices on second allocation!
And this year, every single UK graduate had a job in the end!
Remember there are always other options such as SHO posts, volunteering or working abroad or the private sector.
Get that BDS!
Meet the deadline on all your competencies and revise hard, it'll be hard work but well worth it in the end!
Some schemes ask you to fill out paperwork quite early on so don't leave things to the last minute; there is A LOT of paperwork.
Choosing your training practice
At some point, you'll hear from your deanery about the process of choosing your training practice. Different schemes do things differently but for me this was a day down in London 'speed-dating' style: five minutes with each trainer to get to know them and ask them questions.
Some schemes just ask each of their trainers to give a presentation and some just have a list with addresses and websites to pick from. Different schemes also have different time frames; I had two weeks to rank the practices in order of preference but I know some schemes asked you to decide on the same day.
All I can say is research the practice and its area and if possible visit them (always ask before you visit, don't just turn up without any warning).
Don't base your choice solely on location either. You have to spend a year at this practice, imagine if you didn't get along with your trainer!
Once again, remember to submit your preference list on time!
To summarise, we have things pretty good. Even though this process can be stressful, it's ONE application and ONE interview. Those of you with friends doing other degrees have probably heard them moan about the countless graduate scheme applications they have had to complete. Furthermore graduate employment for dentists has always been very good compared to other courses.
Just make sure you prepare well and stay calm. At least for those of you with summer exams get interviews out of the way so you can focus on that all important revision.
So Good luck everyone!
Leave a Comment: