COVID-19 diaries with Nikita Joshi: Fear for the Future

This COVID-19 diary with Nikita Joshi, final year dental student at UCLan, discusses her concerns with the changes in recruitment for DFT...

Nikita, 5th year dental student at UCLan

As people, we are programmed to fear the unknown. The fear of experiences unlived that may affect our future. This is especially true academically. You can prepare for many interviews but not be prepared for one specific interview, sending butterflies fluttering in and around your stomach! This is exactly what I am feeling for the upcoming DFT ‘interview’.

Finding out via social media, you have to ask, Is this valid? Is this reliable? However, when ‘rumours’ are confirmed by your tutor, it is even more confusing. Do ‘rumours’ hold any truth? Is this definite? Still without any official guidance, but with recognition from bodies such as the British Dental Association, I am less and less dubious about these rumours being false. 

COVID-19 has affected everyone in one way or another: final year students without their graduation, foundation dentists time being cut short, and dentists without patients. I do also feel disheartened with the loss of experience I would have been gaining on clinic, however, there is no point dwelling as you can’t change it. That is just the thing- some things are out of your hands. 

Speaking to a few of my friends and peers, most are worried about the interview being based on only the Situational Judgement Test. Many students feel that they are at a disadvantage which is reciprocated by a recent BDJ article [1], where 91.7% of 183 DCT’s felt like SJTs weren’t fair, realistic or representative of real-life situations.

The sole SJT element is daunting, especially since the most recent prior such exam was the UKCAT, sat four years ago, for me! It wasn’t too much of an enjoyable experience, and lacked the interpersonal skills needed for the interview, integral to being a dental health professional.

At the end of the day, whatever the interview is like, everyone is in the same boat, and you can only try your best. Preparing by looking at dental SJT questions such as those offered in the book by Siddique, Anand and Lewis-Greene [2], and having a good knowledge of law, ethics and professionalism can only put you at an advantage. For those who can afford it, reputable courses may also be beneficial. 

For me, personally, although I do feel at a disadvantage, without interpersonal communication to go alongside the SJT, I feel a sense of comfort also, that I have the support of tutors, dental community members and friends. Although it may affect a small part of my future, overall, everything will be, as it will be. Although It is easy to have a catastrophic attitude, in these trying times, it is important to remain positive, as we all know, you can’t predict the future.

Do you want to write an entry for this series? Please get in touch! Whether you're a dental student, foundation dentist, dental core trainee, associate, dental nurse, therapist I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Documents mentioned:

[1] Donnell CC, Foley JI. Dental core training: the trainee perspective. British Dental Journal. 2020 May;228(10):782-90.

[2] Siddique Z, Anand S and Lewis-Greene H. The Dental Foundation Interview Guide: With Situational Judgement Tests. Wiley-Blackwell; 2016. 

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