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After graduation

Immediately after graduation, the majority of UK graduates undertake Dental Foundation Training (DF1) or Vocational Training in Scotland (VT) in order to work in an NHS general dental practice.

In the NHS, Foundation Dentists (FDs) or Vocational Dental Practitioners (VDPs) spend a year in approved practices whilst undertaking training. DFT/VT can provide new graduates with a broad overview of career choices and a good understanding of the NHS system.


Dental Foundation Training and Vocational Training introduce new graduates to general practice and give them a protected environment to work in for a year. Each FD/ VDP has a trainer/educational supervisor in the same practice. In some practices, two dentists may share this role. The trainer provides the FD/VDP with supervision and help whenever it is needed, as well as meeting with them for regular tutorials. The trainer takes responsibility for the acts and omissions of the FD/VDP in NHS terms, but the FD/VDP, as a registered dentist, will be liable for their conduct and for patient wellbeing.


During your DFT/VT year, you will usually spend four days a week practising dentistry, and one on ‘day release’ at the study day course, plus regular in-practice tutorials with your DFT/VT trainer. Another option is a Longitudinal DFT scheme. These provide the opportunity to combine working in primary dental care and secondary care. Effectively, participants combine the DFT/VT year and the Dental Core Training Year 1 through this programme. This is currently done on a weekly rotation.


You should receive information about the DFT/VT system either at the beginning of your final year or just before your university summer break, as the application process commences at the start of the autumn term.


The information is provided by your dental school with involvement from the Health Education England (HEE) regional office/postgraduate dental deanery. There may be information packs and/or a presentation to explain the system. You can also find details on regional DFT/VT schemes by visiting the HEE regional office/postgraduate deanery websites, details of which can be found on the COPDEND website.


The recruitment process for DFT in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is different to VT in Scotland.


Further information

Written specifically for final year students, our Getting your first job guide gives in-depth information about DFT/VT and longitudinal schemes. Updated every year, this book contains useful advice about the recruitment process and what to expect in your training year. It also gives information about what to do if you are not successful in gaining a DFT/VT place. All final year student members are posted a copy at the start of the autumn term.


We tour all UK dental schools with our interview skills lecture in the autumn term.


For students applying to DFT in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we also run a one-day intensive workshop to help you prepare for the interview.


Alexander Holden, a former foundation dentist in the South Yorkshire Deanery, gives advice about the transition from student to foundation dentist.