Changing your approach to dentistry
Simon shares his thoughts on the value of continuing postgraduate education following his recent completion of the FDGP(UK) diploma in restorative dentistry.
I currently work in the West Midlands region where my week is split between two private practices. I qualified from dental school three years ago and, having done my VT year in Birmingham, started in NHS practice.
I first heard about the FGDP(UK) diploma in restorative dentistry from colleagues who recommended it highly. I’ve always wanted to expand my knowledge of dentistry and improve my skills, so I decided to take the leap straight after VT and I’ve never looked back. Following recommendations, the course was always on my radar as something to achieve so I applied and luckily got a position. The skills I have learnt from this course have been invaluable.
I did look at alternative courses but what appealed to me about the FGDP diploma was the reputation of the FGDP(UK) as an education provider and also the feedback from past attendees.
Steep learning curve
I started on the diploma course straight after my VT course and I would say to anyone that is considering it to not be put off by a fear that it is too much to take on. When I first started, I admit I did feel out of my depth, but what I actually realised was just how much there is to know about dentistry and how much we can improve as clinicians.
The support system whilst completing my diploma was second to none – if I had any questions during the course the mentors were on hand. It’s always interesting to reflect on your practice – to consider what you would have done two years ago and what you do now. My professional growth from this restorative diploma, whilst being quite steep, has really helped me along my career. And it has certainly opened doors that I do not think may necessarily have been accessible without the diploma.
Course topics were wide ranging and included periodontal management, understanding occlusion and getting to grips with the more advanced restorative cases as well as refining the basic dentistry that we learnt at dental school.
One of the best aspects of doing a postgraduate course was the tutorials where we were able to bring in and discuss active cases with the tutors and fellow students. Receiving this guidance at such an early stage of my career from senior mentors of things to look out for and next steps for patients was so important to me.
I found the balance of the MJDF, the restorative diploma and clinical practice at the same time a bit tricky at first! Life was put on hold for a while. But as I started to develop and as the course started to progress, I found a comfortable work-life balance. Usually I would dedicate a weekend where I would sit down and study for the course. One aspect of the course is clinical cases, so during my clinical practice I was able to document clinical cases that I was working on in my daily routine and this helped with the course.
You become used to the assignments and the case write ups and the important thing is that whilst doing this you are reading evidence-based research and that has a massive effect on your clinical practice. So, I would say to anyone who is considering this course or similar, that it will help you after you have completed the qualification as well as during the qualification. It also helped improve patient communication because you are able to explain issues to patients and back this up with evidence-based practice, which I think is invaluable.
Taking on a postgraduate course has changed my approach to dentistry. It has given me structure to work from, where I can now build upon my skills. It has also set me up to complete a masters programme following on from the diploma and it has opened different pathways within my career. I would highly recommend for any young dentist considering some postgraduate education to apply – you won’t regret it!
For more information visit www.fgdp.org.uk.