Dental core training, is it for me?


Oliver Jones presents the fantastic opportunities that DCT posts offer for enhancing skills.

Whether you are looking at what to do after foundation training, or you fancy a new challenge outside of general practice, dental core training (DCT) offers a fantastic option.

I have been undertaking DCT posts after my foundation year and would like to shine some light on what they are and what you can gain from them.

What is dental core training?

Dental core training provides hospital experience across a variety of dental specialties including maxillofacial, oral surgery, restorative dentistry, paediatric dentistry or oral medicine.

Posts are mostly for 12 months and are offered in either teaching hospitals or district hospitals across  the UK.

What can I gain from a DCT post?

As with any job, you really do get out what you are willing to put in and there are an abundance of opportunities with a core training post.

With any of the DCT jobs you can expect to:

  • Manage complex clinical cases
  • Manage medically compromised patients
  • Work in a large multi-disciplinary team in secondary care
  • Learn enhanced clinical skills within the specialty of your post
  • Learn first-hand from consultants within their field of expertise
  • Undertake clinical audits and academic work.

Most importantly, it is a chance to experience the way in which secondary care services are delivered and have a chance to provide them yourself.

If you are considering whether you want to specialise within a field of dentistry, DCT posts can give you an insight into that specialty that you are unable to gain elsewhere.

How does it differ from primary care?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a hospital job is an easy option, there are different pressures faced in secondary care:

  • It can be slower pace than general practice, but there are still waiting time targets that need to be met
  • It can be challenging managing all the difficult cases that are referred in
  • Hospitals are hierarchal and it can feel like returning to dental school
  • Your pay will not be the same as those working out in primary care.

For me, the challenges above were seen as something that could be overcome and were outweighed by my interest for the specialty. But this is something that should be carefully considered before applying.

Restorative core training

For the past two years I have been completing restorative DCT posts, which encompass endodontics, periodontics and prosthodontics.

Within the restorative core training posts, I have had the ability to provide specialty care to patients including:

  • Oral rehabilitation for patients who have undergone treatment for head and neck cancer
  • Replacement of missing teeth for patients with hypodontia
  • Constructing conventional and implant retained removable prostheses
  • Treating different presentations of tooth surface loss
  • Endodontic care including re-root treatments and apexification of immature teeth.

You should have a careful think about your future plans and try and tailor the posts to suit your needs. All training posts will provide you with chances to improve your clinical skills in that specialty, and take them back to primary care afterwards.

How do I apply for dental core training posts?

DCT posts are advertised, and applications are completed though the Oriel website, similar to foundation training.

The job descriptions for posts and applicant guides for dental core training can be found on the Copdend website. I would highly recommend looking at this resource if you are considering applying.

Applications for DCT posts opened in January on the Oriel website and then interviews at the selection centres occur in March.

What are the DCT interviews like?

The interviews are very similar to the new format of foundation training national recruitment interviews. At the selection centre, you will be faced with three 10-minute interviews and then a 100-minute situational judgement test paper, both of which will assess qualities in relation to a person specification, which can be found on the Copdend website.

The interview stations are designed to assess:

  • Clinical communication – this station involves an actor and is used to gauge how well you can communicate with a simulated patient
  • Clinical governance and risk management – this is a hugely important aspect of dentistry and you need to be able to show your knowledge of why it is necessary. Being able to think of examples which show your involvement in clinical governance exercises is always useful
  • Clinical scenario – this station is designed to assess how well you could cope with pressure and prioritise clinical needs.

I really hope that this article has highlighted the fantastic opportunities that DCT posts offer, not just to those who are considering specialty training, but also to those that want to enhance their skills and take them back to primary care.


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