Sunday, 20 November 2016

10 ways to make the most out of DCT

So this time last year I had just begun my Dental Core Training (DCT). The year flies by so quickly, so for those of you doing DCT, how can you make the most of it?



1. Ask for help

You applied for this additional year of training in order to develop your skills.... so you will be thrown into situations you would've never thought of being able to manage yourself. Whether that be your first night on-call in A and E, or reimplanting an avulsed tooth on a 9 year old, you need to know when to ask for help.

It's likely that initially you'll be asking for help all the time. There's nothing wrong with that, as time goes on you will learn and be more confident in managing these situations. I remember my very last day of my DCT, my consultant asked me to do a biopsy of a white patch. If you'd asked me right at the beginning of the year I would have no idea where to start but by the end of the year I had enough experience to feel perfectly capable to perform the procedure by myself. But without asking for help initially, I would never had got to that stage!


2. Research

In a lot of DCT settings there will be opportunities to get involved in academia and research. Ask consultants and other staff if there is anything you can get involved in and ask early as often these projects can go on for some time...if you leave it towards the end of the year you may not have enough time!

Or even better, think of research you can lead. Again going back to my first point, ask for help! Writing up papers isn't easy and you'll need lots of guidance!


3. Posters

There will also be lots of opportunities to create a poster. If you're thinking of specialising, posters are a must!

There are lots of different options for posters: case presentations, audits, research projects, questionnaires. You should look at what conferences are coming up and if they are looking for posters because if you do the poster before, sometimes it doesn't quite fit with what societies are looking for. 

To read about some of my previous posters click here and here


4. Presentations

During DCT you can also develop your presentation skills. This may be in the form of giving presentations at your local group (we used to take it in turns to do lunch and learns each week), regionally or even nationally. 

As part of your deanery, there may be days where you can present a case or an audit and I would encourage you to do this! Again, it looks good if you want to specialise, but also builds your confidence and improves your presentation skills. During my DCT, as well as the lunch time presentations, I presented an audit at a trust audit meeting, at our local departmental meetings as well as at a London Deanery DCT presentation day. 


5. Teaching

Depending on your post, you may be able to get involved in the teaching of other members of staff. This might be dental undergraduates or other staff like trainee nurses. This could be a good opportunity if you think you'd like to become involved in teaching in one way or another e.g. undergraduate teaching, DF trainer. 

Teaching also helps you see things with fresh eyes and ask questions on why you do things. It's easy to get into habits and routines and forget why we might place an elevator in a certain position or how you might take a secondary impression. When someone asks you specifically why you're doing that it refreshes your own knowledge.


6. Networking

As part of your DCT you will come into contact with lots of different clinicians, some will be very prestigious professionals who you can learn so much from. Get to know them, ask their opinions not just clinically, but professionally in terms of career advice. They will have a wealth of knowledge to share!


7. Keep a hand in primary care

During my DCT I still kept up my skills in dental practice by working at weekends. I can imagine if you have long hours in Maxfax this may be difficult but even spending a couple of weeks locuming somewhere would be great. 

This keeps up your experience working in dental practice (as it's very likely you'll end up there in the end), can keep your speed up, understand how a business works as well as keeping that performer number active!


8. Make the most out of working in a large health care setting

Working in a hospital whether its a district general, a university teaching hospital or in a community setting has it's perks. You will work within a large team and be surrounding by a support network of staff. For example, when a patient is being challenging you can call other members of staff for help.

You can also learn from other departments or staff members; ask to shadow on other departments or work with other members of staff. For example, my oral surgery GA list ran alongside a special care list. A few times when we finished early or the list was cancelled, I asked to assist with the special care list instead (which is something I'm really interested in). 


9. Get second opinions

Again, you will be surrounded by many different clinicians with different levels of experience and opinions. Ask them what they would do! Even if you're pretty sure what your clinical opinion is, it's interesting to learn the different approaches to the same situation and you could learn some useful tips!


10. Record your clinical work

Make sure you record all your clinical activity! When you apply for other posts like more DCT posts, speciality training posts or posts in the community, they frequently ask for numbers for certain procedures. Make sure you record the procedure and whether you observed, assisted or performed with/without supervision.

Also if you are doing any form of sedation, download the SAAD logbook and get your cases recorded. You need to have at least 20 cases and then you can perform sedation in other settings! 


Most of all, make sure you enjoy your year! You have fantastic support throughout the year from the deanery, your peers and your local hospital team. Make the most of all the opportunities that arise during the year!



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