DFT & Vocational training

Applies to: All
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Last reviewed: 05/06/2013
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Last updated: 23/01/2012

Dental foundation training (DFT) and vocational training (VT) is a post-qualification training period, mainly in general dental practice, which UK graduates need to undertake in order to work in NHS practice.

In NHS general dental practice, foundation dentists (FDs) spend a year in approved practices, working to standard contracts. Training advisers inspect practices and appoint trainers (usually practice owners). Trainers employ the FDs and pay an agreed salary. The NHS reimburses the FD salary and National Insurance contributions to the trainer, who also receives an allowance for time spent giving training support. In England, during the year, the FD is allocated 1865 Units of Dental Activities (UDAs). After completing training, a dentist receives a certificate of completion, which is a prerequisite for joining an NHS performers list in England and Wales.

Dental foundation training introduces new graduates to general dental practice in a protected environment. Each FD has a trainer dentist within the practice, who provides supervision and help whenever it is needed, as well as weekly tutorials. Under NHS regulations, the trainer is responsible for the acts and omissions of the FD but the FD, as a registered dentist, may also be liable for any misdeeds.

Dental foundation training aims to:

  • introduce the young dentist to general dental practice

  • identify personal strengths and weaknesses and balance them through a planned programme of training

  • enable the FD to practise and improve skills free from undue financial pressure

  • promote peer- and self-review

  • impress on FDs the idea that professional education, training, self-evaluation and audit must be a continuing process throughout a working life.

For further information on Foundation Training, please see the COPDEND website.