Careers In Special Care Dentistry: RCSEd Study Day

Thinking of a career in Special Care Dentistry? I recently attended a study day with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh which helped me understand what options there are out there in Special Care....

Routes to Specialisation

There are 2 main ways to specialise in Special Care Dentistry:

1. Special Care Registrar Training (SPR/STR)

A 3 year training pathway which may include opportunities to do a Masters in Special Care or the RCS Diploma (see below). 

These posts at the moment are released on Oriel on a regional basis but it is planned by 2018 to be a national recruitment process much like some of the other specialities e.g. orthodontics. Posts can be purely based in the community, in secondary care or a mixture of both. Following the 3 years training you will then take Royal College Exit Exams to become a Specialist (as well as completed a portfolio, competencies etc.). 

2. Special Care Academic Clinical Fellow

As above, another 3 year training pathway but divided into 75% clinical training and 25% academic. The target following any ACF post is to secure funding for a pHD and become an academic. 

The day to day timetable is very similar to an SPR. These posts are usually funded by the university rather than a deanery. 

The Royal College of Surgeons Diploma

The Royal College of Edinburgh offer a Diploma in Special Care Dentistry for those who wish to grow their portfolio and qualification in Special Care Dentistry. The diploma is available to those who can demonstrate experience in working in a special care environment for 1 year e.g. community. The diploma consists of 4 parts:
  • Log book of clinical experience relevant to Special Care Dentistry 
  • Case presentations x 2
  • 7 Unseen Cases Exam
  • Simple Best Answer Exam

The exam takes place twice a year, the next sitting is in March. For more information see the RCSEd website

Where do Specialists work?

Of course this doesn't just apply to specialists; there are plenty of clinicians with lots of experience in Special Care Dentistry who are not on the Specialist Register, especially since SCD is the newest dental speciality! In general, there are 3 environments that specialists can work:
  • In general practice (NHS or private)
  • In community dentistry/salaried dental services
  • In secondary care e.g. dental hospital
Often, specialists may divvy up their time in more than one environment. They can also be involved in other areas of dentistry e.g. commissioning, education. Broadly, most SCD specialists work within the NHS; however, there are skills SCD have that are highly valued in the private sector too e.g. sedation skills. 

SCD is a unique speciality as it encompasses all areas of dentistry. This means that specialists will have a broad range of skills in all areas of dentistry: from surgical extractions to molar endodontics! 

Many thanks to those who spoke on the day not just about careers, but some common topics that I experience (and often need help with!) throughout my day to day life in community! 

Is a career in special care dentistry for you? Are you on a specialist training pathway? Let me know in the comments below. 

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