My name is Diana, and I’m currently approaching the end of my DFT year. Dental Foundation Training was a big jump from my final year of dental school.
My final year of dental school was affected by COVID-19, which meant that we saw less patients and participated in a lot of online learning. On average, we saw two patients a day during dental school, and sometimes three in our outreach clinics.
During my Dental Foundation Training, I initially started by seeing five to six patients a day. By the end of my training, I was seeing up to 15.
Systems of support
During dental school, we had a huge support system. We were surrounded by many tutors and colleagues who we could always approach for advice.
During Dental Foundation Training, we had an educational supervisor who was responsible for guiding us throughout the year. Some educational supervisors are more supportive than others, but if you’re unsure about a treatment, they’re who you go to for advice.
In a large practice, you have other colleagues who you can go to for advice, but again, they’re usually busy with their own patients.
Pace of work
During Dental Foundation Training, you’re required to work at a faster pace in comparison to dental school. During dental school, we used to have two hours for a full, thorough check-up.
In practice, your educational supervisor wants you to aim for 15-20 minutes per patients by the end of the year – although they do give you extended time for check-ups initially (around an hour).
During dental school, I would usually take a whole appointment (2.5 hours) to complete a filling. However, during Dental Foundation Training, you’re expected to complete a filling within 30 minutes – or even less. It seems daunting, but you do speed up with time.
Working with colleagues
As a foundation dentist, you have a designated nurse that you work with every day. This allows you to speed up considerably, as they know exactly how you work.
During dental school, you usually work with a fellow dental student who nurses for you. In these cases, it can be quite time-consuming to get materials from the stock room, and you’ll work with many different people which takes some time to get used to.
Therefore, having your own nurse as a foundation dentist allows you to be more efficient, and as a result, quicker.
Writing up notes
During dental school, all of our notes were written on paper. This varies from dental school to dental school.
Writing up notes tends to be very time-consuming. This was something that was completely different during foundation training. We were able to type up our notes and had pre-made templates available, which sped up the process considerably.
Different work environments
Working as a foundation dentist, in the same room with the same people day after day, can be quite isolating.
During dental school, you’re surrounded by many friends and colleagues. This is something I really missed once I started my foundation year. It’s important to ensure that the environment that you work in is positive.
Overall, moving from dental school to Dental Foundation Training is a big jump. However, with time you get used to the fast-paced environment. It can be difficult and stressful at first, but by the end of your foundation year, you’ll be left thinking: “How did I ever take two hours to do a check-up?!”
With all of this in mind, good luck with your foundation year!