This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Home CB > About to Graduate > Newly qualified > Tips for Foundation year Dentists

Tips for Foundation year Dentists

in Newly qualified

Tips for Foundation year Dentists

I am sure you are all feeling something similar. I have no doubts your year will be interesting and enjoyable, here are some things that may make it easier.


They focus mainly around the work-life balance. As cliché as it sounded at dental school, this may be the difference, between enjoying your work and enjoying it even more.


Having money and losing it

You are finally earning, a dream your parents have had since you were 11!  You get paid and you  think wow, that’s amazing I’m going to spend this. But before you put a deposit on your Subaru Impreza or Christian Louboutin shoes or whatever it may be.

Be smart! Here are a few things to consider.


  • Before you start your foundation year make sure you have the right tax code , if not Inland Revenue will put you on an emergency code, which means you do not get paid in full (but you will get it back later).
  • Cost of living -  for the first time most of us will have to pay, rent, council tax, water, gas and electricity so be careful.
  • If you live in London, it could be tight so be careful about that £1000 a month apartment. 
  • If you live at home, you will be living the life.
  • Even if you don’t live at home, with the ARF expected to rise, saving monthly will be massively beneficial.
  • Also many of you will be doing the MJDF so that December, January, February period will be killer if you haven’t saved, (as you apply for the MJDF in January).
  • We actually have to pay back student loan, who knew? Well that student loan comes out in April-ish so if you are accustomed to spending your entire wage, that is going to be a tough adjustment. 

I know it’s not what you want to hear, but if you live at home you have the option to save. But if you don’t live at home, you should save every month for the ARF otherwise December will be tough and that will knock on to January!

I know it is a bit pessimistic but with everything else that is happening you don’t want to be worrying about money. 


Having a life and not having one

Dental life 

This will be the massive part of your existence during your foundation next year! There is a big jump from the blanket of dental school to practice; here are some tips that I think will help.


  • At the beginning of the year ask your trainer or nurse how they do certain procedures e.g. complete dentures, CoCr dentures, how they take consent as invariably this may be different from dental school.
  • Get on with your practice manager and nurse; ask them to warn you about “funny” patients.
  • Listen to your nurse, in all cases you should have the most experienced nurse, they know far more than you do at this stage, believe it! Their assistance, advice and expertise will be invaluable.
  • Make sure you are getting the experience you need, if you hate RCTs do more of them as you may not have acquired enough exposure (get it) to decide you hate them. 
  • Take care with your posture, from the start. Don’t be tempted to bend. It takes time, to get used to it, but that’s why you have long appointment times, (loupes help).
  • Keep your good habits; don’t lose the way you did things at university. 
  • I would say invest in a saddle chair, they are so much better than regular chairs (in my opinion).


Home life

  • The most important thing to remember is that this foundation year is your first year of dentistry and you may make mistakes. 
  • Try to leave everything at work, don’t take stress home. When you are at home you are at home, forget dentistry. 
  • Everyone needs a hobby, find one, because it will make life easier, I won’t lie - dentistry is stressful but it is also rewarding. 
  • If you have a bad day, remember the good days, the good things you have done, the difference you have made, because you will have.
  • Have someone you can call to rant at, we all have funny patients, but don’t take it to heart, remember the good things you have done (I’ve repeated it but, it is so important). If you allow dentistry to get the better of you, you will not have a life.
  • Get your sleep, the first three months were so tiring and I only had a 15 minute commute. 
  • Treat yourself, you deserve it!




Do not forget this foundation year is about improvement, not just in terms of XLAs or amalgam fillings, but also managing and charging patients, working with the lab and learning about the NHS.

My best tips for this are:


  • Buy loupes and a light!! I cannot stress how important this is, I know I talked about saving, but loupes are an investment in you. They also make dentistry easier in my opinion.
  • Take photos, this year you have so much time, take photos of your work it helps to build a portfolio that is vital for applying for jobs. If I did this year again, I would take photos from my first day, for two reasons.
  • One it gets you into the habit of taking them
  • Second your biggest cases may be at the beginning, you don’t want to get mid way through and think “Crumbs!! I wish I had taken pictures”
  • Be willing to accept critique and learn from it
  • Do your MJDF as early as possible.


The second part of improvement is networking

  • There is a fantastic opportunity to network this year, you have an opportunity to meet people who are in a field you may be interested in, ask them how they got there and if they have any tips on career development. Most are friendly and will give you their email so in the future you could contact them. 



I hope I have not been to gloomy, this is a great year, with fantastic opportunities, and it is so important you achieve good habits early, buying loupes and saddle chairs, are things you can take with you for the rest of your career. Saving money regularly looks good to banks, so when you need that loan for you house, practice etc. The fact you have saved and lived within your means is a bonus. 

Not only is this the step from being a student to a dentist. You also take the more important step from being a student to an adult.


Best of luck

Olu Onafowokan (Ariyo)


Leave a Comment:


Login to Facebook to post your comments

Logged in as:

Logout from your Facebook account

Post comment to my Facebook profile


No comments.

Tags: FD (10)