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The value of Foundation Training

As university students, we often don’t realise how big of a difference we can make in people’s lives. Dentistry is a unique path, it allows you to continue learning throughout your career, gaining knowledge that will help you further support your patients.

Jamie Everett
Jamie Everett Foundation Dentist - Brecon Dental Care

I believe your Foundation Training (FT) can be an incredible asset in this journey, where you will experience the realities of general practice in a safe environment. FT allows you a space to transition from the heavily supervised environment of university to the real world, where the quality of your work depends solely on your abilities.

The importance of Foundation Training

FT is an incredibly useful opportunity to further enhance your skills and learn more about general practice, whether you’re interested in practising in the NHS or private practice. Especially at the early stages of your career, it’s important to have a supportive network around you. Part of your educational supervisor’s job is to assist you whenever you question your abilities or need a second opinion.

Especially at the early stages of your career, it’s important to have a supportive network around you.

This year will allow you to build your skills, without worrying about financial risks, while surrounded by professionals that can provide support and reassurance. Depending on your supervisors, you’ll be able to practise a wide range of skills you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. Thanks to my experienced supervisors, I'm able to provide a full range of treatment under the NHS on a broad spectrum of patients. You will also spend one day most weeks at a study day, where you will be able to learn from people outside your practice and enhance your skill set.

If you feel incredibly confident in your abilities, this might feel like an unnecessary career delay. However, I believe it’s an important opportunity to learn and be reflective on your work. You will have to constantly consider where you could improve and will do so in an environment built to support you.

How to get through it

Before I started FT, I wish I had known how different general practice was going to be to university. Going from a very sheltered environment to a real-life practice can be difficult, you will need to be very adaptable and ready to learn new approaches. Don’t be surprised if some techniques and workflows are different to what you learnt at university. Some material brands you are familiar with may not be available to you, and you will have to find practical ways to work around this.

It’s vital to not put pressure on yourself to have everything figured out immediately.

It’s important to remember that it’s normal to doubt your abilities and question your skills at first. Remember that this feeling is fleeting and by the end of the year you will feel much more confident. Try and think of your year in sections, until Christmas you’re more likely to doubt yourself but as the months progress, your confidence in your instincts will grow and by summer you’ll be able to get through issues without panic. It’s vital to not put pressure on yourself to have everything figured out immediately. Your supervisors are there for this exact reason. Allow yourself space to learn and make mistakes without being too self-critical.

You will also have to become comfortable with getting paid for your work. So far, all your work has been free through your university, so it might feel overwhelming operating on patients with previous private work done and being asked to reproduce that type of work. However, trying to live up to more seasoned dentists’ standards will only bring you more stress. You will learn how to be confident in your abilities and how to balance being accommodating with knowing how to say something is outside your current capabilities and recommend a colleague.