Benefits of postgraduate education
Over 4 in 10 general dental practitioners have a postgraduate qualification, according to the BDA Dental Business Trends survey, rising to almost half for under 35s. There was a wide range of postgraduate qualifications that respondents had undertaken. These included qualifications in orthodontics, implants, restorative dentistry, Membership of the Joint Dental Faculties (MJDF) as well as certificates in mentoring, education and practice appraisal.
Clearly there are large numbers of dentists studying for postgraduate qualifications. What particular benefits might they bring to an individual?
One way to increase your job prospects as an associates might be to stand out from the crowd of other applicants by having a postgraduate qualification. Though, ideally it should also be relevant to the practice to which you are applying. The jobs market for associates in many parts of the country has changed over the past few years, with young dentists in particular having to put more effort into finding the right job. Practice owners in London and other metropolitan areas particular have a good choice of applicants for associate posts and having a qualification might help get an interview.
One of the most common issues for associates is the lack of a career structure in general dental practice. Practice ownership may be the goal for many, though it does not suit everyone and with the NHS tendering system in England and Wales, becoming a practice owner there can be very difficult. If you want to progress, having a qualification in an area that is of special interest to you can be a good alternative to practice ownership.
Postgraduate education and relevant qualifications can be important at any stage of a dentist’s career. You might consider expanding your practice into a certain direction and need to gain specific skills for that purpose. You might want to become a dental foundation trainer, supporting young dentists in their first year of their career. Or providing mentoring for peers who have underperformance issues might be something you might like to do. You could become a tutor yourself, passing on your knowledge to dental care professionals or dental students. This may be within academia or you could offer your own courses in a subject matter close to your heart. Training to be an expert witness to provide opinions in GDC fitness-to-practise or public court cases might interest you. In all these areas, competition for jobs is likely to be high, and showing a commitment to furthering your own knowledge and skills certainly looks good on a CV, while in some areas, they will be formally required.
Changing patterns of disease, and in particular the care of the older population who have heavily restored dentitions will, in the next decades, result in a need for more practitioners with appropriate education and training. An increasing focus on skill mix may also provide a further incentive for dentists to be prepared to deal with ever more complex cases.
Enhancing your knowledge
Of course, as well as benefiting one’s career, postgraduate education also offers the chance for intellectual challenge, interacting with peers and having a change of scene from your normal practice. There are a lot of courses to choose from and the BDA can provide information to members on course providers. Postgraduate education for dentists has arguably never been more important. Career prospects and future changing patterns of dental care needs make this a good time to consider the benefits of gaining a postgraduate qualification.
To find all the latest postgraduate courses, please click here.