Wednesday, 11 April 2018

PG Diploma in Special Care Dentistry RCSEd: My Experience

Back in March, I sat my PG Diploma in Special Care Dentistry (which I have mentioned in a previous post). For those of you who want to know a little bit more about the exam and how to apply keep reading!

You sit the exam at the Royal College in Edinburgh - An excuse to explore this beautiful city!

What is the PG Dip in SCD?


The PG diploma was developed recently with the Edinburgh Royal College to formally recognise the expertise of dentists who work with Special Care patients. Often the diploma can be taken during specialist training but it is not necessary to sit the exams. 

Who can apply?


There are some requirements to sit the exam:

  1. GDC registration
  2. A minimum of 2 years post-qualification
  3. A minimum of 1 year of experience of full time postgraduate experience working with special care patients (or part time equivalent if completed over 4 years)


Format of the Exam


There are 4 parts to the exam:

  1. Log book of clinical experience relevant to special care dentistry (50-100 cases over a 6 month period)
  2. Case presentations x 2 of special care patients (in differing categories of patients)
  3. A written SBA exam
  4. Unseen cases x 7 


Ready to go into the exam! Candidate 1!!


What was the exam like?


So after submitting my cases and portfolio (which was a lot of work - if you want to view my portfolio click here, I can't share my cases online due to consent issues) 3 months prior to the exam date, I made my way up to Edinburgh to sit the exam. 

The exam was held over 2 days (they sometimes have them over 3 days) so I stayed a few nights. There was only me and another lady sitting the exam!

Day 1


Firstly, was the written exam. It was good to get it out the way. On the RCSEd website you can find a full curriculum to go through when you are revising but the exam was 150 single best answer questions covering topics including:
  • Medical conditions and dental manifestations
  • Medication interactions, classifications and contraindications
  • Pathophysiology of diseases
  • Audits, research and clinical governance
  • Epidemiology
  • Embryology 
  • Mental Health 
  • Immunology
  • Theory of sedation and GA

After a couple of hours break and recharge, we then had the first of the oral exams where the 2 examiners asked questions about our logbook and our clinical cases. Although it was a bit intense, they were my patients which I knew well. Tips I would give include:

  • Know how to justify your treatment plan
  • Know your patients conditions and medications side effects
  • Be ready to discuss problems you experienced and how you overcame them
  • Know alternative treatment options and why you didn't chose them
  • Dental impact of conditions that your patient has
And that was day 1 done! Phew! 


Day 2



After a good nights sleep the final hurdle was the unseen cases. This was the part as a student I used to feel most anxious about, but surprisingly on the morning I didn't feel that anxious. I think the reason why was because you have the same people examining you as Day 1 and during the first oral exam I felt like I had almost built up a rapport. Plus it was the last bit of the exam left! Here are examples of sorts of patients came up in the unseen cases (there were 7 in total). 

  • Dementia patients
  • Parkinson's patients 
  • Physical disabilites
  • ADHD/challenging behaviour
  • GA/sedation options
  • Bleeding e.g. NOACs
  • Transplant patients
  • Oncology patients 
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sleep apnoea

And with that, I was done... and I'm pleased to say I PASSED!! Woohoo, now I have more letters to add after my name - but more importantly, a formal recognition of the skills I have learnt during the past 2 years working with special care patients.

To read more about the exam, see the RCSEd website



Are you thinking of taking the diploma? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below. 



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