A Week in the Life of a DCT: OMFS at Rotherham with Katie Crawley

So here is another entry for this year's DCT competition by Katie Crawley...

Katie, a DCT1 in OMFS at Rotherham
Hi, I’m Katie and I’m currently a Dental Core Trainee in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Rotherham General Hospital. This post appealed to me for many reasons; first and foremost, the chance to gain a huge amount of clinical experience to stand me in good stead for my future career (although I haven’t yet decided what this will entail!). Secondly, I chose a post in a District General Hospital, in the hope of gaining lots of hands-on experience in extractions and minor oral surgery. Finally, after finishing Dental Foundation Training in a dental practice, I fancied a change of scenery! The chance to be part of a bigger team and learn a whole new set of clinical skills was exactly what I hoped for.


I’m on-call this week, so I arrive in the hospital for an early 8am start. After a quick catch up with the consultants and other DCTs, we start the morning ward round. Next, I complete a couple of admin jobs; discharging inpatients and booking outpatient appointments for A&E attenders are first on the list. However, it isn’t long before the on-call phone rings. There is a patient in A&E with a large submandibular dental abscess who will need to be admitted for treatment. I take some bloods, prescribe intravenous antibiotics and gain consent to drain the abscess and remove the offending tooth in theatre under general anaesthetic!


My main task today is organising the placement of a tracheostomy for a Covid positive patient on a ventilator. I discuss the case with the consultants, book the emergency theatre and complete the consent form. The phone is constantly ringing today, so I only get 5 minutes to grab some lunch – thank goodness for the on-site M&S! Next, I head to theatre to assist with the tracheostomy. This procedure involves surgically creating a hole in the patient’s windpipe, so they can be gradually weaned off the ventilator. After finishing in theatre, I am called to manage a couple of lacerations in A&E, before handing over for the evening.


Wednesday gets off to a pretty quiet start, so I head to clinic with one of the consultants; two-week wait referrals, skin cancers, cysts and troublesome teeth are all on the list today. I am then called to see a two-day old baby on the postnatal ward. He has a mobile neonatal tooth, which I must remove due to the risk of aspiration. Understandably the new Mum is very concerned, but her baby does her proud and doesn’t even cry! I head home after the evening handover and my dinner is already on the table; amazing housemates are essential when you’re a DCT!


Every Thursday starts with an hour of teaching – today we learn about head injuries from one of the A&E consultants. After that the on-call phone stays mysteriously quiet (touch wood!), so I wander down to theatres to see what’s happening. I assist with a coronectomy and the removal of a basal cell carcinoma skin cancer. Later, I handover to the DCT on nightshift. Last on-call shift this week – tick!


This Friday I am on cover, meaning I help the other DCTs with their workload. As the on-call DCT has everything under control, I work on my audit which is looking at how we manage dental trauma in A&E. I also have a much needed catch up with the other DCTs. Later, I assist my registrar with the repair of a fractured mandible in theatre. We reposition the broken fragments and stabilise them with small metal plates. Once we are finished, I head home. I am off this weekend, so it’s time for some rest and relaxation, before it all starts again next week!

Hopefully I have given you an insight into the typical week of an OMFS DCT. As I hoped, this post has already allowed me to hugely improve my clinical skills, but it has also given me so much more… Arguably the most important things I have learnt are actually related to teamworking, communication, leadership, working under pressure, prioritisation and resilience. All of these valuable skills are easily transferable to other roles, hence a DCT in OMFS is often compulsory for entry into specialty training. 

So, if you are even thinking about applying for Dental Core Training, I would say ‘Go for it!’. It definitely feels intimidating and at times overwhelming, as a brand new DCT who has just finished FD, however it becomes much easier once you gain a little confidence. You soon learn that everyone around you is there to help and give advice – you are the trainee, not the trainer! 

There are so many opportunities around, beyond those you would typically expect – for example, observing the vascular access team to improve your cannulation technique or shadowing the medical registrar to learn about a range of medical problems. Even within OMFS you may see conditions and procedures which are rarely encountered, so it’s important to make the most of every opportunity. It’s also a great time to enhance your CV by getting involved in audits, teaching, quality improvement projects and research. But it’s not all work… Luckily there are also lots of opportunities to balance the hard times with lots of socialising with your colleagues and fellow DCTs. Regardless of your long-term career aspirations, you can learn so much from a DCT post – so give it a go!


Do you have any questions about DCT or the competition ? Let me know in the comments below. 

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