How to become a Specialist in... Paediatric Dentistry with Richa Rughani

Next in the series of How to become a Specialist... is Paediatric Dentistry with the wonderful Richa Rughani, StR in Paediatric Dentistry based in Belfast. 

Why Paediatrics?

My own experience of healthcare as a child inspired me to work in paediatrics. I’ve always wanted to help children reach their full potential and play a role in their lives during their formative years so when I found out that dentists could specialise in paediatric dentistry it was the obvious path for me to follow! 

As well as this, paediatric dentistry is a combination of everything I most enjoy – from being able to deliver treatment under GA, with inhalation or chairside, to the various fields of dentistry within it such as trauma management, oral medicine, surgical procedures, and restorative work. Finally, working with children brings out the best in me and I have the most fun with them.

How long is the training?

There is national recruitment for both specialty and consultant training posts in paediatric dentistry. It takes three years to complete specialist level training and trainees will then sit the Tri-Collegiate Diploma of Membership in Paediatric Dentistry (MPaedDent) examination administered by the Royal Colleges of Surgeons. Aside from national recruitment, you can also become a specialist by completing a three year DClinDent in Paediatric Dentistry which is privately funded and will also allow you to sit the MPaedDent examination.

It takes a further two years to complete to consultant level and this requires trainees to successfully pass the Intercollegiate Specialty Fellowship Examination.

What is a typical week like?

A typical week will vary between units and, to some extent, whether training is in a community dental service or hospital. Generally speaking, a typical week will include:
  • Theatre sessions where treatment is completed under general anaesthesia. This may be comprehensive care or extraction lists
  • New patient assessment clinics and review clinics
  • Treatment sessions, some of which may include the use of sedation
  • Joint clinics with other specialities
Traumas and emergencies are also common and if working within a hospital setting ward patients may also require review.

Top Tips for applying

1. Know your why

Why do you want to specialise in paediatric dentistry? Applying for speciality training and training itself is extremely tough and requires serious dedication and persistence. Specialising, irrespective of the speciality, is also a huge commitment and can be tough with very real sacrifices that may need to be made, so having a clear “why” is what gets you through these times. Your reason for wanting to specialise in paediatrics is unique to you and the genuineness of your passion will come across in your interviews.

2. Have some experience in paediatric dentistry, not just in being with children. 

Ideally, gain this experience by doing a year of paediatric dentistry DCT, working as a clinical fellow, or in community dental services. Not only will this give you a taste of the speciality before you make a commitment, but it will also help you have foundations for speciality training.

3. Look at the personal specifications 

Look at versions that that have come out over the last few years and try to meet as many requirements as possible. It changes every year so try to have a broad range of areas that you’ve covered. Audits, quality improvement projects, and even case reports involve a lot of work so make sure you do them on topics that you really enjoy.

4. Know the speciality

Keep up to date with the latest hot topics, research and the best way to do this is by attending conferences, webinars, and reading journals. The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry website, conferences, and regional meetings are always an excellent starting point!

5. Find a mentor

I found having a mentor very helpful and talked to many paediatric dentists to find out their best tips and tricks.

Finally.... give it your all, and then you’ll know that whatever the outcome is, you did your best.

Do you have any questions about Paediatric Dentistry or applying for specialist training? Leave them in the comments below.

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