Planning for your next career move

Second-year dental core trainee William Maguire gives his advice for colleagues thinking about undertaking hospital training

“while A DCT job can be hard work, it will be a very educational and enjoyable 12 months”


When nearing completion of foundation training, it seems that every dentist gets asked the same questions about what they want to do clinically for the next year. Many go for associate jobs, but the hospital training pathway is another option to consider. I wanted more experience of complex surgical management of patients, especially regarding orthognathic cases, so I applied for the oral and maxillofacial surgery job.

Applicants must first complete the application form that is available online ( There is a considerable amount of information available on Dental Core Training (DCT) recruitment, such as what to include in your application, the timeline and what to include in the portfolio if you are required to bring one. Here I discuss some areas to consider now and how to prepare your portfolio.


1. The timeline is critical

Knowing the deadlines for each aspect of the recruitment process seems obvious, but this will ensure that you can prepare in advance and won’t have to rush any section.


2. There are many jobs available at each level

You do not have to decide in January or February what department you would like to be working in by September. Most applicants will have some idea of what area of clinical dentistry they would like further training in, so you can do some shadowing or ‘work experience’ in various departments during these months to give you an idea of the work you are signing up for. Remember, there are many different roles, such as community, oral medicine, oral surgery, orthodontics, paediatrics, public health, restorative, sedation, special care and many other combinations so keep your options open; if there
is an area on which you would like more specific information, look on the deanery websites or contact a colleague working in a similar position.


3. Speciality training requirements

Some speciality training specifications state that previous job experience in certain specialities is desirable. If you are certain of a career pathway, plan your jobs to best suit your application and maximise your clinical experience. If you don’t know at this stage what you want to do, that is fine, but remember that usually a dentist can only do three DCT years before deciding what to do next.


4. Location, location, location

The national recruitment process allows applicants to apply for jobs in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This should be familiar to many as this is similar to the foundation process, so consider early on what areas you would be willing to move to for work. The recruitment process is competitive, so
the more places you are willing to work in increases your likelihood of being successful in your job search.


5. Salary

This will be paid monthly like foundation training. The amount will be more than DFT, but some colleagues working in general practice could be earning more as an associate. Factors to consider here are that each job and area may have different salaries, with tax and pension contributions calculated by your employer. This information will be available prior to ranking jobs, so again do your homework on this.


6. Clinical governance

If you didn’t already know, there are seven areas of activity which are used to make sure we deliver the highest quality healthcare to our service users. This includes clinical audit, staffing and staff management, education, training and clinical effectiveness. You will be expected to carry out audits which can then be presented locally or made into posters for national conferences, and use all of the help available within your department as your colleagues will have a lot of experience with this.


7. DOPs, CBDs, MSF requirements 

You will have experience with this from foundation training, so, again, the sooner you start the better. Expect to carry out at least two structured learning events each month, but read your own requirements specific to your job. Use the curriculum available online to design what areas of clinical work in which you want to demonstrate competence.


8. Personal Development Plan (PDP)

The GDC has made it a requirement for all members of the dental team to make and maintain a PDP. This is a requirement of DCT jobs as well, so use this time to plan ahead, consider what areas of clinical and non-clinical work you wish to improve measurably, and discuss this with your educational supervisor or training programme director.


9. Clinical skills

Expect to get more experience specific to your DCT job. Throughout my few months working in the oral and maxillofacial department I have gained new skills managing emergency dental care, including assessment and treatments in A&E. This includes closure of lacerations under local anaesthetic, prescribing when appropriate and onward outpatient appointments if necessary. This role also involves admitting emergency cases and prepping them for theatre, along with the administrative tasks involved with the admission and scheduling emergency theatre. I have enjoyed the team working aspect of the job, working with the registrars and consultants to provide the appropriate treatments
for patients.


10. Extra-curricular events

International and national conferences, local lectures and social gatherings can be very useful for CPD and  your portfolio, as well as being fun catching up with colleagues and friends.

For Dental Core Training (DCT) 2 and 3 level jobs within the UK, the applicants are required to produce a portfolio to bring to the interview. This is a requirement within the national recruitment process for further training posts. It can be very time-consuming to arrange all of your work in the correct format. I have had experience with this in 2017, and here are just a few tips for future applicants to make this process as easy as possible.


Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Keep a log of your CPD up to date, with certificates to verify the number of hours you have.

Some CPD events only send certificates after you complete the feedback form, which can have time limitations. Make sure to do this as soon as possible after the event.

Many journals have CPD questions, which can be easy to do online or with the tear-off answer page, usually at the back.

Attend a wide range of CPD events, such as conferences, local meetings or journal clubs, as well as some speciality specific events if applicable.


Presentations, posters and publications

Presentations can be given locally, nationally or internationally. This can sound daunting, but start small and work your way up.

Most dental societies plan annual conferences, which allow for oral or poster presentations to be submitted.

Posters can be presented at local, regional or international events also. Sometimes a regional audit day will be held by your hospital. Keep a record of the deadlines to submit to this.

Publications can be difficult to complete but will be very valuable in your portfolio. Having a good mix of publications can show you are well-rounded.


Teaching and research 

Involvement with research can be achieved through volunteering Teaching undergraduate students on clinics can be useful to ascertain what areas in which they would like further lessons, and you can work with more senior colleagues to give formal lectures or present a journal club.

Read journals and clinical articles. You should be able to critically appraise articles.

Postgraduate courses in teaching or research can be expensive and time consuming but could provide you with a foundation of knowledge in areas you are interested in.


Compiling your portfolio

This sounds obvious but it is important to buy a brand new folder to give a professional presentation of your work. Print on quality paper and have this done in the weeks before the interview.


I hope this has been of some use to junior colleagues within the profession. While a DCT job can involve hard work, it will be a very educational and enjoyable 12 months. If you have any questions make use of your colleagues in DCT2 and 3 now, as they will be able to help guide you through the process along with your educational supervisor and training programme director. Good luck to anyone applying this year.

About the author

William Maguire graduated from Queen’s University Belfast Dental School in 2015. He completed GPT at Newcastle Dental Hospital and a general dental practice
in Alnwick, which combines DFT and DCT1. He is currently completing a DCT2 position in oral and maxillofacial surgery.

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Published: 4 May, 2018 at 13:03
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