5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Specialist Training

So as I enter my 3rd year of Specialist Training in Special Care Dentistry, I'm reflecting on the things I wish I had know when I started my training...

1. How to Use ISCP

So similar to the ePDP of DFT, there is an online portfolio you have to complete as part of speciality training. The difference is you have the pleasure of paying for this portfolio system (currently £130 per year!) on the Integrated Surgical Curriculum Programme

Being the first trainee in my post for my ES, we had some fun trying to figure out how to work the platform, by adding placements, meetings and other details on there. A few trial and errors and 2 years later I would say we are probably on top of things, but it would have been lovely to have some training on how to use the platform! 

It is useful to record everything in one place, from Work Based Assessments to conference attendance, to reflective PDPs, to multi-source feedback. At least it gets rid of lots of pieces of paper in a folder portfolio. 

2. Expenses and Other T&Cs

Wherever you end up working, you need to be aware of your contract and its terms and conditions. 

It took me about a year to realise I was entitled to some expenses. The expenses you are entitled to as a trainee include:
  • Study Leave expenses for approved courses
  • If you relocate for your training post, you can claim for reimbursement for moving costs and fees
  • If you travel to sites other than your base, you can claim excess travel 

3. Support for Trainees

There is support there for trainees. Training to become a specialist isn't easy and you have to juggle lots of things as well as cope with some serious exams! 

While your Educational Supervisor is there for support (and I could not fault mine, she is fantastic!) there are other forms of support out there to access including the Professional Support Unit which can provide one on one mentoring and coaching as well as support for trainees who are returning to training after a break. 

4. Training Can be Flexible

A question I get asked all the time, how long is your training pathway? 

So depending on your speciality, training can range from 3 to 5 years (mine is going to be currently 3.5 years). But you can do training part-time (at least 0.6 WTE) depending on other commitments and you can take time out of programme (OOP) to complete research, undertake Masters, complete other roles such as fellowships or non-clinical work, or for family reasons. 

I completed a Fellowship with the Office of the Chief Dental Officer during my first year of training which really complemented my overall career development and I would highly recommend - this is why my training has been extended by 6 months. 

5. Work Based Assessments 

So similarly to other training grades, you need to complete WBAs throughout your training. Something I had to wrap my head around a little since I didn't have to complete these during my core training year! You have to complete not only the correct number of assessments, but on a range of procedures and domains e.g. you can't just do all WBAs on taking out teeth (even in oral surgery training!). WBAs include:
  • Direct Observation of Procedure (DOPs)
  • Case Based Discussions (CBDs)
  • Clinical Evaluation Exercise on Consent (CEX)
  • Multi Source Feedback (MSF) 
  • Assessment of Audit (AoA)
  • Observation of Teaching (OoT)
  • Procedure Based Assessment (PBA) 

And everything else you need to know about Specialty Training is in HEE's GOLD GUIDE. Also make sure you take a look at your own specialty's curriculum to ensure you cover what you need to know in your training post!

Do you have any questions about speciality training? Please leave them below

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