DFT vs. DVT... What's the Difference? Guest Post with Taranjit Kaur & Maisha Qureshi

Since the season of national recruitment for foundation and vocational training, I'm so pleased to feature this guest post by Taranjit Kaur & Maisha Qureshi explaining the difference between the options after graduation for dentists in Scotland and in the rest of the UK...

Taranjit Kaur & Maisha Qureshi at their graduation

For all UK dental graduates expecting to work within the NHS, it is necessary to complete a training year, which in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is known as Dental Foundation Training (DFT), and in Scotland, Dental Vocational Training (DVT). Taranjit Kaur and Maisha Qureshi graduated together from the University of Dundee in 2019, but where Maisha applied for DFT and has been working in Essex, Taranjit went through the process of DVT in Glasgow, Scotland. They are now at the end of their training years and looking forward to venturing into associate life.

Initial Application Process

For DFT, applications are made through the Oriel portal, and open in August and close in mid-September. You will be invited to book an online Situational Judgement Test (SJT) for November and usually an OSCE style interview with two stations: Communication and Medico-legal ethics. These tests are used to rank applicants, the higher you score, the more likely you will be to secure the post of your preference. The 2020/21 round of DFT applications will rely solely on the SJT, due to government guidance relating to Covid-19. 

Applications for DVT usually open in September and close in October and no examinations or OSCEs are required. Dental students in Scotland are reminded of all dates and deadlines by their university however if applying from out with Scotland, an invaluable resource is the NHS Education for Scotland (NES) website. NES are responsible for DVT in Scotland however registration is now done through Oriel. Registering is fairly quick process as only basic details and eligibility for application is checked. CV and references are not required at this stage. This part of the process is a bit more laid back than England, and you can more or less forget about it till May.

Ranking and Securing Final Placements for DFT

Applicants for DFT are able to rank schemes from all over England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, from December up until a week before placement in June. You will be able to access some information about each scheme, such as the location for study days. It is important to only rank places you will be willing to go, but keep in mind that always with DFT there are more applicants than positions available, and not ending up in your first choice doesn’t mean you won’t have a great year. 

In June, you will find out which scheme you have been placed in and consequently what rank number you achieved. You will be given the option to decline or accept the scheme, or accept with upgrades, meaning you will automatically be moved to a scheme higher up your preferences if a position becomes available. Once you have confirmed your decision, this cannot be changed.

Within your scheme, you will be given more information about the specific practices. Each scheme organises practice preferencing differently, you may have the opportunity to meet the supervisors or not, and again your rank will determine your final placement. By the end of July, you will be able to contact your Educational Supervisor and organise meeting the team and signing the contract, to start in September.

Open Days and Interviews for DVT

The second stage of the DVT application involves visiting practices and interviewing with potential trainers. Around May, ‘visitation period’ will open for around 2 weeks and allows you to view all the DVT practices and trainers in Scotland. Oriel provides trainer profiles in which you can read what the trainer and the practice has to offer. It is best to upload your CV before visitation opens and have two references ready. 

Most practices prefer for candidates to attend an open day after which they will select people for interviews. Open days for different practices can clash as they are often all held in the first week of visitation as interviews are held in the second week. This can result in a busy schedule and a lot of travelling from one practice to another. It is important to be quite swift as often popular practices have a limited number of slots and these can go quite fast especially in bigger cities. The best advice I would give is to have your CV and cover letter ready to email to the practice to secure a time slot and bring a printed copy to give to the practice at the open day. 

Interviews consist of meeting with the trainer and often other staff. They usually ask questions relating to your CV and try to gauge if you would be a good fit within their team. It goes both ways; this is an excellent opportunity to ask any questions you may have regarding their practice or team. It allows you to view the surgery you will be working in as well as what equipment is available. 

After the interview, the trainer will contact you if you have been shortlisted, which you should consider when preferencing. Trainers and trainees each list their preferences and rank them from 1st (most desired) to 7th (least desired). The practice will not reveal what rank they have placed you on their list and you should not tell them either. NES is very strict in this area and if ranks are revealed, they consider this as cheating. Practices in some rural areas are able to directly offer you the DVT position after an interview in which case the matching stage is bypassed.

Results are then released, and you will be made aware if you have been matched to a DVT practice. If you have not, the clearing process begins, and you can view practices that have also not been matched. Practices are contacted and they may call you for another interview. The Vocational Training year will start in August.

Due to Covid-19 pandemic visitation and open days were not possible and instead all interviews were conducted online. The process will likely return to normal however it is best to check the NES website for updates.

At the end of the day…

For both DFT and DVT, the year progresses quite similarly. You will be working towards becoming more confident and clinically independent while still having the supervision of your trainer, and you will have the opportunity to socialise and network with other trainees and supervisors at your study days. The study days cover a range of topics, and a mix of hands on practical work and teaching, as well as opportunities to present your own work and projects. 

For both of us, it all boiled down to where we saw ourselves settling in the future, and we both wanted to move back closer to home. Over the course of the year we learnt more about how to work within an NHS contract, which varies in Scotland from the rest of UK, and we had opportunities to network and make contacts, which can lead to great friends and mentors. Both of us feel it has been a great step between undergraduate dentistry and ‘the real world’ and despite the unforeseen interruptions, we are ending our training year on a high.

Important Information Sources

For more about the DFT process:


For more about the DVT process:


Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, some aspects of both processes this year will be affected, so please keep yourselves up to date and informed. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!

Thanks for this amazing post Taranjit & Maisha! Please leave any questions in the comments below

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  1. Interesting! But if I do the DVT, would I afterwards be able to practice with a NHS performers number in England, and vice versa?

    1. Thanks, yes you will be able to practice in England you will have to apply to be the performer's list with evidence of completion of DVT, and visa versa

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