The Hidden Costs of Specialty Training

So you want to be a Specialist? Great... but are you aware of the potential costs....?

I am in my final year of specialty training in Special Care Dentistry and the financial sacrifices I have had to make in order to pursue this has often been tough! Ultimately, in the end I am sure these will pay off, as once you finish training you have specialist skills and therefore are likely to be remunerated appropriately for this. But if you are considering specialist training, you should take the financial implications into consideration when making your decision or which pathway you wish to pursue. 
So what are the costs..? 


One of routes of specialisation is to undertake a University funded Masters in Clinical Dentistry (MClinDent) or Masters. 

An MClinDent course is a postgraduate qualification in Dentistry and many programmes prepare you to take the Membership in Restorative Dentistry or other specialist examination at the Royal Colleges. These courses can be full-time (2-3 years) or part time (4-6 years) but will have associated tuition fees will will vary depending on the university and course. 

You should also note that if you are completing the MClinDent outside of a Health Education England funded speciality programme (which there is a move for all MClinDents and MScs to be done in order to standardise funded training pathways across the country), it is not just the tuition fees you will have the factor, but also the loss of income for the days you will be completing the programme where you would have been earning money working. 

This cost can be substantial; for example, my Masters in Special Care Dentistry amounts to currently around £30,000 I have to self-fund. Fortunately, some of these qualifications you will be eligible to apply for a Government Postgraduate Student Loan, but it will only cover up to around £10-11,000 worth of the fees. 


So similar to the ePDP of DFT and DCT, there is an online portfolio you have to complete as part of speciality training... but the difference is you have the pleasure of paying for this portfolio system on the Integrated Surgical Curriculum Programme.

This amounts to currently £130 per year, and it tends to increase every year. So this amounts to a significant sum over your 3-5 year training programme! 


So you come to the end of your training.... and then you have the pleasure of sitting your exit exams which can be a pretty large sum depending on the college and the membership exam. For example, my Membership in Special Care Dentistry Tricollegiate examinations currently costs £1500
And god forbid you have to resit elements if you don't pass them, this of course then incurs fees again, not to mention travel and accommodation if you need to travel to complete the exam. One of the advantages of virtual exams during the pandemic does mean these costs are not necessary, but they should be planned for as most colleges prefer to complete their exams face to face. 


And finally travelling to your placements. This might be more significant for some people but programmes will have rotations or placements in different hospitals and clinics which might not even be geographically close! For example I travel between sites in London and Surrey for my training. 

There is also other aspects of training that you might need to travel for; exams as mentioned above, study days, other meetings such as your ARCP if you are required to be there in person. While some of these will be eligible for reimbursement under your study budget or expenses, others will not. You cannot claim for expenses for example which are incurred for examinations. 

Ultimately, specialty training for me will be worth the long hard work and expenses that it incurs, but it is important to be aware of the costs involved before you commit to a training programme. Because of the costs of speciality training, many trainees look for supplementary sources of income such as working weekends or have family who can help out, but the costs associated with training should never be, in my opinion, a barrier for someone to pursue specialisation if they really want it! 

Do you have any questions about speciality training ? Let me know in the comments below. 

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