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How to be a Stress Free Foundation Trainee

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How to be a Stress Free Foundation Trainee

Jennifer studied in Dundee and graduated June 2014. Jennifer says “I wanted to write this article for anyone who felt as nervous and scared as I did before starting my foundation training position, hopefully by writing this – some fears will be put to rest!”


Making the switch from dental school to practice as easy as possible!


Graduation is the climax of your university education, everything leads up to it. You work incredibly hard for five years, you experience some of the best days (and nights!) of your life, with friends that you will hopefully hang on to for a long time. But how on earth do you keep it together when it’s all over?!


My first piece of advice: DON’T BE AFRAID TO BE AFRAID!
Your graduation is just the beginning of your career; then you have to go out into the world of work and make a living! I’d be more worried if you were calm! It’s a big jump to make so don’t worry about nerves – totally normal.


Second piece of advice: DON’T BE AFRAID!

Although nerves and fear are perfectly normal, they are also unnecessary! The foundation training year is designed to help you get to grips with the big band world, and everyone you work with, knows how daunting it can be to be the newbie, they are there to help.


So in summary; there is no need to be stressed about it, but if you are - don’t worry; here are some helpful hints to make the transition easier.


  1. Trust yourself.
    You have studied for five years and passed your final exams – you know your stuff. Don’t be afraid to make the call if it’s the right one for your patient.
  2. Let your nurse help.
    The foundation training nurses are angels on earth, I couldn’t have settled in to my practice without my fabulous nurse. Most of them have worked with previous foundation trainees. They know that only three months ago we took three hours to do a root canal, they know that last year we had someone looking over our shoulder, checking everything we did or what we were about to do and they know it’s not easy to not have someone giving you the go ahead now. Let them make suggestions, listen to them and be grateful for their wealth of knowledge, yes you are the dentist but they’ve been in practice a lot longer than you have!
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
    You know your stuff, you have a great nurse but you’re still brand new! If you’re not sure or you want a second opinion or you need someone else to find the elusive second mesiobuccal canal – just ask! Your trainer is there for you, your own personal fountain of knowledge – use it!
  4. Make the most of it.
    You have worked hard to get here and the hard work isn’t going to stop, so enjoy it! There will still be stressful days, anxious patients and over protective mums, but there will also be brilliant days – where you give someone a new smile or you help someone overcome their disabling dental phobia! Savour the good days and don’t dwell on the things that don’t go exactly according to plan!

For the majority of confident dental students, this will all be common knowledge but if someone had warned me just how scared and nervous I was going to be – it would have made my summer after graduation a whole lot less stressful. It is a huge change going from dental school to general practice, but you have all the help you need at your fingertips so don’t let nerves get the better of you; enjoy the last glorious few months of dental school and look forward to your new job!


Jennifer McMullan


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