The majority of Dental Core Trainee (DCT) posts are in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMFS); however this field involves the combination of medicine and dentistry, which can feel quite daunting to begin with.
Nonetheless they provide a great learning experience and can really help you to develop as a clinician, even if you don't want to head down the route of dual qualification long-term.
Every post is different but here are some tips for making the most of your experience:
1. Before you start
Some deaneries run mandatory "dentist on the ward" courses. These provide an excellent opportunity to gain an understanding of managing ward patients and emergency admissions.
They run through practical considerations such as clerking, managing facial trauma, cannulating and suturing. Although every hospital has their own policies and paperwork, this course is a great way to voice your anxieties about the post and to prepare yourself for the job.
It is well worth reading up on OMFS in advance. There are some excellent succinct pocket books that you can take with you when you start your post. Here are some of the current texts on this topic (these are available to loan from the BDA Library):
- Dentist on the Ward 2017 (7th ed.) – Sadler & Cheng 2017
- On Call in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (2nd ed.) – Payne et al. 2015
- Oxford Handbook of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery – Cascarini et al. 2011
2. At the beginning of your OMFS post
Think about what you want to gain from the post. Make sure to discuss this at your initial educational supervisor meeting and find out if there is anything that your supervisor would recommend you do. For example, if you're worried about taking bloods your supervisor may suggest for you to shadow a phlebotomist. Log these as part of your Personal Development Plan.
Keep a record of your surgical experience. This may be important if you wish to apply for specialist training at a later stage, as well as being a nice record of what you've managed to achieve in your post. You can do this by hand or electronically; for example, the Royal College of Surgeons have an elogbook, which can be used online or via an app.
Familiarise yourself with your workplace, and introduce yourself to the staff on the ward and in A&E. Being on good terms with these people will definitely make your job much easier, particularly when you have no idea where to find the cannulas, or know who to contact to arrange an urgent scan.
Keep organised! Always have a notepad and pen with you to help jog your memory so you can appropriately prioritise jobs. Allow yourself extra time to find places and try to be there early, particularly for ward round, so that things can run smoothly.
Team work is crucial. Try to help each other out where possible; for example offering to assist a busy on call DCT if your clinic has been cancelled. The job can be emotionally demanding at times but having a good support network of colleagues really helps.
3. As you progress
Arrange regular meetings with your supervisor to monitor your progress and ensure you achieve your goals.
Get involved with audit, quality improvement and research projects. OMFS departments can provide you with lots of opportunities to boost your CV and get involved with unusual things that you may never encounter again.
As with many things in life, the more you put into your OMFS post the more you will get out of it. It can be overwhelming to start off with but going in with a positive attitude and preparation will help you succeed
Oral Surgery Registrar
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