Just like a doctor or a lawyer the dental field is a very professional and highly regarded career path. You may be interested in dentistry and wonder how you can take steps to become a dental professional yourself. Our latest blog post explores some of the routes that need to be taken and what it takes to become a dentist.
The first step is a sound education with good GCSEs and A-levels (or equivalent.) Picking the ‘right’ courses at this early age can already give you a good head start in your dental career. For example science – particularly biology is an important subject that could be studied.
To become a dentist you normally need a degree which is offered at a number of universities. The course is intense lasting around 5 years. There is often high demand for dental degree places so expect to work hard both before and during your degree. Completion of your degree will lead to a Bachelor in Science award.
Some people will decide to go further in academic study and proceed all the way to PhD level undertaking extensive and pioneering research.
If you actually want to be a dentist however, after graduation from your degree, you will need to register with the British General Dental Council. This is the dentists’ professional body which all dentists are a member of. The GDC is responsible for the conduct and ethics of all registered dentists and failure to adhere to their high standards will call your membership into question as it can be seen as bringing the industry into disrepute.
To work in the NHS as a dentist, further standards and training are required, comprising of the Dental Foundation Training or the Vocational Training. This consists of practical experience under close supervision for one year after the student has graduated.
Once the dentist has gained experienced then the paths open to them are abundant. Some decide to move into hospital dentistry while others work in a practice as an associate dentist. There is also always the option that someone can go self-employed, do further study, or ‘mix and match’ any of these options. As a person gains more and more experience they may choose to specialise or go into specific parts of dentistry allowing them to become experts or leading figures within those areas.
Being a dentist isn’t just about a good education and practical experience. It is not a shocking statement to say that dentists work with people. Due to this, dentists must possess great inter-personal skills and be able to deliver high quality care in a way this is understandable and knowledgeable for their patients. Similar to doctors, dentists must have a strong grasp of diagnosing and clinical skills to allow them to fully carry out their role to the best extent. An interest in people and their health / welfare is also an essential element of this profession. Many dentists will go on to work in big practices and manage teams of people. Comprehensive managerial skills are required, as well as an eye for good business ethics and development.
Being a dentist is a very rewarding career with great opportunities and benefits. Do you have what it takes?
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