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After graduation

After graduation, qualified dentists must register with the General Dental Council, the profession’s governing body. Dentists then have the choice to undertake further training to gain increased knowledge of specialist areas of dentistry.

To work for the NHS, dentists must initially complete Dental Foundation Training (DFT) or Dental Vocational Training. Upon completion, to further hone their skills, dentists may then apply for Dental Core Training (DCT).

Whilst working in one of these training posts, dentists may also wish to take the MFDS (Membership of the Faculty of Dental Surgery) postgraduate diploma. This is an internationally recognised diploma which demonstrates competence in basic postgraduate training.

Dental Foundation Training

Dental Foundation Training (DFT) is the NHS training scheme for graduates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Foundation Dentists (FDs) spend a year in approved practices, working on standard contracts whilst undertaking training. DFT can provide new graduates with a broad overview of career choices and a good understanding of the NHS system. Each foundation training practice has a trainer dentist, officially known as an 'educational supervisor’ (ES).

The DFT programme is based on a centralised document, the DFT Curriculum. The latest version was published in 2015 and is now the basis for training and for future initiatives linked to DFT. For the 2023 DFT National Recruitment Selection a Situational Judgement Test (SJT) only will be used for the selection process. Applicants will not be asked to undertake a communication station and the SJT will account for 100% of the overall assessment score. This decision has been taken by The Medical and Dental Recruitment and Selection (MDRS) Dental Subgroup following careful consideration of evidence.

Situational Judgement Test

What is an SJT?
What is an SJT?

To successfully apply for DFT, we have prepared an SJT mock exam course, available exclusively to final year dental student members. The course consists of 50 cases which have been designed to practise a broad range of scenarios. Delegates will be able to compare their results with recommended answers.

The mock exam follows the COPDEND format, with all scenarios and recommended responses having been reviewed and examined by young professionals and experienced dentists. The course is hosted on our CPD hub and can be taken as many times as you wish. The login is the same as your BDA student member login. Your email address is your username. If you haven't activated your password, please set it up.

Practise SJTs 

Dental Vocational Training

In Scotland, Dental Vocational Training (VT), operates under a separately organised scheme from the rest of the UK. It is organised and administered by NHS Education Scotland (NES). New or recent graduates from UK dental schools must complete a one-year VT programme to be eligible to hold a Health Board list number in Scotland. The list number allows dentists to work as Health Board contractors in NHS General Dental Practice.

New graduates on training programmes are known as Vocational Dental Practitioners (VDPs). Training is centred on approved training practices with a complementary educational support programme of 25 study days. A dentist in each training practice is identified as the trainer and employer of the VDP. Once qualified, you can continue to update and further your knowledge through a wide range of short courses and postgraduate qualifications, sometimes on a part time basis.

Dental Core Training

Dental Core Training (DCT) is a UK-based training program for dental professionals who have completed DFT or equivalent. The program is designed to provide a structured learning experience that develops clinical and non-clinical skills in preparation for specialty training. DCT usually lasts for one year and provides trainees with the opportunity to work in a variety of clinical settings.

DCT is a great option for specialisation and allows for progression while working in general practice. The time spent in DCT can also be used to build a portfolio career, which often requires experience of research, QI and teaching which is easier to gain through DCT. At the end of DCT, trainees may choose to apply for specialty training in a particular area of dentistry or continue working in general dental practice. DCT roles offer unrivalled personal growth which will serve you personally as well as throughout your professional career.

Postgraduate qualifications

Starting as early as your first-year post-qualification, you may consider further studies to progress your career. Membership of the Faculty of Dental Surgery (MFDS) is a postgraduate diploma which is undertaken as a first step on the career pathway for dentists. Achieving this diploma shows that you have gained the standard and level of experience expected after two years of full-time work.

The syllabus for the MFDS exam is based on the Dental Foundation Training Curriculum, and a large part of the knowledge and experience necessary for the exam will therefore be acquired during vocational or dental foundation training. For more information about the MFDS listen to our podcast 'Chairside: conversations about careers in dentistry'.