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NHS Dentistry and Its Future amongst Newly Qualified Dentists

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NHS Dentistry and Its Future amongst Newly Qualified Dentists

This young dentist studied at King’s College in London and qualified in 2010. They have written an article about NHS dentistry and its future amongst newly qualified dentists. This article will explore the benefits of hospital training post qualification.
Since completing Dental Foundation Year 1 training in 2011, I have worked in secondary care in various institutions.  I am currently in my third hospital job and have decided to enter general dental practice after this year.

Last year, I began to hear the phrase “those newly qualified dentists who are incapable of going into practice, go into hospital training.” I was outraged when I heard this the first time, when I heard it the second and third time this year; it prompted me to write this article.

There are many stresses that can put a great deal of pressure on newly qualified graduates, the current state of NHS dentistry, the increased demand to see so many patients a day and the increased risk of litigation.

Most of us studied dentistry because on some level we wanted to help people. Yes, it is cliché but I also believe it to be true. A part of that mentality breeds an ethical dentist who wishes to care for others by providing the best and highest standards of care for their patients. Does the current NHS system allow for this? I think it can but with great difficulty, and with a vast amount of experience.

Hence, why I chose to practise hospital dentistry for three years, after my foundation training. I wanted to broaden and improve my skills and explore other specialities; what was so wrong about having a safety net before entering the big bad world? What was so wrong with setting some solid foundations, to deliver my treatment and patient management with conviction?

The increasing number of dental care professionals that can now provide dental care without a dental prescription, hygienists, therapists and lab technicians, puts pressure on young dentists now to seek further specialised qualifications in order to feel that their jobs will remain secure.

The route to obtaining a National training number incurs years of hard work in hospital dentistry, entering competitions, networking and broadening ones experience. Those trainees electing to work in a hospital, to gain further skills and experience to ultimately benefit their patients should be commended for what they have chosen to undertake post qualification. In comparison to their colleagues who have entered the world of general practice straight away, these young dentists have chosen to do it, dare I say ‘the right way.’ In my opinion senior clinicians are in no place to criticise those newly qualified dentists in hospitals as I do not believe they had the same pressures as we face today.

We live in a confusing era. Never have there been so many dental core training jobs in the UK yet it seems once you have completed a hospital job you are devalued in the eyes of many principal dentists. It should be valued by principals of general dental practice and not seen as a disadvantage.

The benefits of secondary care dentistry are that one is able to work in multi-disciplinary teams, gain a better idea of how the most complex cases are dealt with. These trainees choose to keep themselves just verging on the edge of their comfort zone, whilst constantly seeking to improve. After all how can you explain to your patient who you are referring for a biopsy of a suspected SCC what will happen to them in hospital – if you have no knowledge of how such departments work and what these procedures involve?

There are so many exciting opportunities out there for young dentists. We have a whole career to look forward to. General dental practice will always be a viable career option, so what is the hurry?  NHS Hospital dentistry is a highly valuable experience that I believe all young dentists should experience, not just the ‘incompetent’ ones.

Thoughts of the author only.


 

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