Congratulations, you’re a Foundation Dentist! Guest Post with Navpreet Kaur

It's my pleasure to welcome this guest post from Navpreet Kaur reflecting on what she would've wanted to know at the beginning of her Dental Foundation Training year...

Ahead lies an exciting, tumultuous yet rewarding path which starts off with your foundation year. Having just completed my Foundation year successfully, I am sharing some tips that I wish I knew of. 

Know Who to Contact

During your foundation year, you’ll have lots of people around you for support. However, the important thing is that you know who to approach for certain matters. 

Your Educational Supervisor is responsible for:
  • Day to day issues 
  • Overseeing your clinical needs 
  • Completing DOPS, ADEPTs and tutorials (see below)

Your Training Programme Director is responsible for:
  • Pastoral issues 
  • Issues that you may not want to discuss with your ES 

Don’t forget the support staff especially the lovely admin team who help you when you’re locked out of the portfolio! 

Know the Coursework Requirements

For my scheme, the Autumn term was the heaviest for coursework. This includes:

  1. E-learning modules – get this done as soon as possible as there is lots to do and the sooner you get it done, the better 
  2. Mini-molar endo – by December you have to submit a multi-rooted root canal case that you have completed. December seems a long time away however, you easily get caught up in the hustle and bustle and before you know it, it’s Christmas! Not to forget that most patients need to be dentally stable in order for us to complete a successful root filling, so RCT usually comes at the end of the treatment plan. Start looking early! 
  3. Record card review – a review of your records. Remember, your clinical records are a legal document and need to be clear, concise and contemporaneous. I had a general template saved on the computer for specific procedures which acted as a reminder and saved lots of time. 
  4. Multi-source feedback – feedback from colleagues at your practice 
  5. Start looking for your audit project early – although the deadline isn’t until Spring time, ideally you should aim to complete two cycles of your audit 
  6. Keep an eye out for possible case presentation patients 
There is more coursework to come after Christmas, but I found the Autumn term the busiest. 

Know the Clinical Requirements

This isn’t much different from dental school and there are rough guidelines on how many procedures you should complete. If you notice yourself falling behind, get help! Ask your ES or associates in practice to send some patients your way. Some additional things are: 

DOPS (direct observation of procedural skills) – your ES observes you undertaking a simple procedure on a patient such as a simple filling or radiograph

ADEPTs (a dental evaluation of performance) – again, your ES observes you undertaking treatment on your patients 

Keep up with the Portfolio

The portfolio is used to monitor your progress and help you identify areas for your improvement. Make sure you log all of your clinical activity, tutorials and reflections meticulously. I kept a tally in my surgery and if you’re nice to your nurse, she’ll do it for you! You have to complete certain sections before the end of the month and after a certain date, they will get locked. For the first few months, I created reminders for myself to complete this but it soon became a habit. 


Loupes are a fantastic addition to a dentist’s armamentarium. I cannot emphasise the difference they make to the quality of your clinical work and posture. It’s a huge expense when you’re straight out of dental school and when the GDC’s annual retention fee has burned a hole through your wallet but they are worth it! 

It’s OK to Feel Overwhelmed 

If like me, you went straight from school to University and have never had a full-time job, DFT will be exhausting. Don’t be alarmed if for the first few months, you come home and just fall asleep. The first few months of DFT will be physically and mentally exhausting.

You will:
  • Be working full-time
  • Possibly have re-located 
  • Learning clinical and non-clinical skills at an incredibly fast rate
  • Getting used to a new environment and finding your role
  • Meeting new people
  • Completing coursework
  • Keeping up to date with the e-portfolio 
  • Having a personal life 
Be kind to yourself and take time out. Speaking of which, take annual leave throughout the year rather than saving it all for the end. This helps prevent burnout. Remember that your fellow FDs on your scheme are going through the same thing, connect with them – sharing a problem is a problem halved! 

Don’t be Afraid to Try New Things

At dental school, you may have only used one type of obturation system or just one type of post system. Chances are, your ES will have access to equipment that you’ve not used before. Here’s your chance to use it! Of course, observe first and then give it a go. 

Learn to Reflect

You’ve probably done some in dental school but be prepared to do a whole lot more. Initially, I saw it as a tick-box exercise and just wanted to get it over and done with until, my ES introduced me to the Gibbs’ reflective cycle. I urge you to take a step back after a long day and use the Gibbs’ reflective cycle to think about your day. It helps you make sense of the things that happened, what role you played, what you could have done better and what you excelled in – it’ll help you become a better clinician. 

When Should I sit the MJDF/MFDS Part 1?

The MJDF part 1 has two sittings: October and April. I would definitely recommend sitting this exam in your FD year as the knowledge you require is very similar to your finals. I chose to sit the exam in April (which got postponed due to the pandemic) because I wanted to completely focus on finding my feet as a FD. Some of my friends sat the exam in October and passed and were glad to have done it earlier on. 

Do you have any questions about getting into Dental Foundation Training? Please leave them below

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