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Whats it like being a... foundation dentist working in a community setting? Shyam Karia

Blog Author Shyam Karia

Blog Date 29/04/2019

​Shyam Karia is a foundation dentist (FD) working in a community setting in Bedford. He tells us about his day…




My alarm goes off….

At 6.45, 6.55, 7.10…- I can't snooze my alarm anymore and I finally work up the will to heave myself out of bed!

My mornings consist of getting ready and then sorting out a quick grab and go breakfast to be enjoyed during my 1-hour commute to work by car.

As my foundation year has gone on, I've learnt to appreciate this commute. It allows some 'me time' where I can listen to music, meditate, and then just enjoy the surprisingly pleasant drive into work.


I'm responsible for…



Being an FD within a community practice, I mainly see the same type of patients as those you'd find in a GDP setting, but on occasion, I see some cases can be a little more challenging.

These may include patients with special care requirements, complicated medical histories, severe anxiety or phobia and even a few referrals from GDPs.

There are numerous opportunities to attend paediatric and special care GA lists, attend domiciliary care visits, conduct inhalation sedation, work on mobile units and spend time shadowing numerous different specialists.

While I love all of these aspects, it is the wealth of support around me that makes working in community dental services special.

Doing Special care dentistry can be daunting for many (never mind for an FD!) but there is no better time to gain experience treating challenging patients than in your dental foundation training, when everyone is at your side to support you.


I got the job…

shyam-karia-graduation-650px.jpgWhen applying for DFT, like most dental students, I had a preconceived notion of what community dentistry was like. It's unfair but I think that this is the reality.

Community dentistry is misunderstood. Clinics are thought to be drab and old fashioned and people always seem to assume that paediatrics form the main patient demographic.

Moreover, we weren't allowed to visit the practice, and so I chose my job based on who my educational supervisor would be.

I had no idea what to expect and there was a little part of me questioning whether a placement in community could match that of general practice.

Fifth year ended, summer flew by and it was in the first week of September when I started my new job, that I discovered just how little I really knew about what community dentistry is like.

I recommend that all fifth-year dental students have an open mind when applying for DFT and consider working in a community setting. You may be pleasantly surprised. 


The best part of my job…

Two parts here…number 1: urgent care appointments. Very little trumps seeing a 10/10 pain whittle down to 0 in about 15 minutes. Number 2: the genuine 'thank you' that some patients give you at the end of their appointment.


The worst part of my job…

Treating patients with wild and extreme expectations of what I can accomplish!

As a newly-qualified dentist the ability to confidently say 'no' to patients is still something that doesn't come naturally as I'd wish. Fingers crossed, with experience this should get easier.  

After work…



As much as I enjoy dentistry, I wouldn't want it to become my life. I enjoy playing in the local squash leagues, learning Kung Fu and bits of Jiu Jitsu, skiing (the next goal is snowboarding!) hiking and anything else outdoors. 

I recently spent two weeks running a voluntary dental clinic in the rainforests of Honduras with another FD.

We were part of a small team (7 teams in total) stationed in a remote part of the country.

Picture this: middle of the rainforest, no notes, no complaints, no GDC and only extractions. You quickly learn to find pleasure in simple things.


My Plan B

Hands down, has to be a chef in my own little restaurant. 

Shyam Karia, foundation dentist



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