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Academic posts for Dental Foundation Training

Deciding on a Dental Foundation Training (DFT) post can be difficult as each scheme offers different experiences, and you are still setting a path for your future career.

Neha Meta
Neha Mehta Dentist

During your undergraduate studies you will gain research experience, which might spark an interest in following an academic path. Academic posts offer a protected environment, without committing to the obligations of an Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF).

What is an academic post?

Taking the leap towards a set career path as an undergraduate can be daunting. If you are considering an academic route and leaning towards an ACF, an academic post can be an attractive step to ensure it is the right path for you.

Academic posts can be one year or two years long. They provide the same amount of protected time; however, one-year posts carry out one research day per week and two-year posts incorporate them every other week. There are also varying levels of flexibility on the academic projects you will be involved with. Some posts focus on a set wider project, where you develop your own side research, and others are more flexible with your research area.

Academic posts generally tend not to have any added assessment; however, your clinical requirements also won’t be reduced so you must work efficiently to meet your DFT targets. During the year, you will have to give a presentation detailing your research to the training programme team and the director of the academic post. Each post allocation has a description of its ongoing projects, so you will need to take them into consideration when making your decision.

I have enjoyed having an element of academia associated with my DFT.

Why consider an academic post?

Academic posts have many advantages. The experience of working on a big, centred trial provides great skills that will make you stand out from the average candidate. During your undergraduate career, it is easy to take the amazing clinicians and researchers you are surrounded by for granted. Through an academic post you can explore your interests, while still gaining first-hand experience.

One of the best things about an academic post is the research project. Mine is an educational based intervention project called “Raised in Yorkshire” where we educate sixth form students on dental hygiene, diet, and when to go to dentist. They then bring this information back to school and educate peers. We perform health assessments pre and post intervention to see whether this is sustainable and helps to improve oral health.

While I am unsure whether I want to apply for an ACF, as it is a three-year commitment, or if I would prefer the direct speciality training route, this post allowed me to focus on my interest of working in public health. I have enjoyed having an element of academia associated with my DFT, and I still have the freedom to decide further on if this is the career path I want to take. Gaining an insight into academia has been extremely beneficial and this wider project has allowed me to feel like I am having a positive impact on public health, which is something that I wish to continue in the future.

The process to apply for an academic post follows the same route as all DFT posts.

How to apply

There are many things to consider before choosing an academic DFT post. These posts are typically associated with universities, so you will have to consider whether you are happy to live in these cities/areas. I recommend reaching out to faculty members and anyone who has chosen an academic post to gather more information. They will be able to explain what experience you will need and the best things to mention in your application.

The process to apply for an academic post follows the same route as all DFT posts. You will need to apply through Oriel for the DFT programme and, once accepted, you then need to apply in Oriel for the academic programme. This happens a few months after the DFT application process, after you have sat the SJT. This is a. This is a separate application process, and you will have to answer questions about previous experience, prizes, publications, why you are interested in the post and your future aspirations, along with providing references.

Once you have submitted your application, you must benchmark the Situational Judgement Tests and, when this is accepted, you will be invited for an online interview and offered a post. This process has a closer timeline than regular DFT, where the offers come in around June. Once you accept your academic post offer, you withdraw from national recruitment. The application process itself will help you decide if this is something you are interested in. It is better to apply, get more information, and then decline, rather than missing an amazing opportunity.