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What route did you take when you left UCC Dentistry?

I moved to Scotland a few weeks after graduating, to partake in Longitudinal Dental Foundation Training (LDFT), based in Edinburgh. This is a two-year training scheme, which combines the full year of Vocational Training with four different 6-month rotations in a variety of hospitals and clinics. The Vocational Training part is carried out in a general dental practice every second week. This means I work in the same practice for the full two years, alternating every second week with a different rotation.
My first rotation was in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Forth Valley Royal Hospital. This was a fantastic experience, as I got to do loads of oral surgery, and it gave me a lot of confidence in carrying out surgical extractions, suturing, managing trauma and dealing with facial swellings. Treatment was provided under LA, Sedation or GA, so there was a good mix. There was always the support of Consultants or Oral Surgeons available, so it was a great environment to learn and improve your skills.

I then spent 6 months in the Paediatric Department of Edinburgh Dental Institute. This was a real eye opener. It was a secondary care setting, meaning all the patient’s we treated were referred to us. This meant we dealt with a lot of difficult cases, basically everything that couldn’t be done in general practice. I learned so much about treating children using evidence-based dentistry, and everything was once again done with the support of Consultants or Specialists. It’s not like Dental School where things are checked at each step, you are given a lot of responsibility but expected to ask for help whenever needed.

I also had two different rotations in the Salaried Dental Service. This is a fantastic service in Scotland, which basically provides treatment for all patient’s who cannot be seen in General Practice. The patients I dealt with included medically compromised, elderly, special needs, substance misusers, homeless and students. This included working in emergency walk-in clinics and also carrying out Domiciliary visits to nursing homes.

I am coming to the end of this scheme soon, and I am then going on to become a Senior House Officer in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery for the next year.

What made you choose the career path you took?

Like a lot of people, I wasn’t too sure what route I wanted to go down after leaving University. What I definitely wanted was to keep my options open, so I always intended on doing some sort of vocational training. It is a shame there is no training schemes to keep young graduates in Ireland, but fortunately the schemes available in the UK are well established and offer great opportunities for developing your skills and learning new techniques in a slightly sheltered environment.

This scheme appealed to me particularly because it offered the opportunity to work in a variety of areas, and it gave me time to decide what career path I wanted to go down.

Did you do anything in 4th or 5th year that helped prepare you for this path?

I was lucky enough during my time in Cork to win a few undergraduate awards, which went a long way in helping me secure a place on this scheme. It is a big advantage to have something on your CV that helps you stand out a bit, so I would say don’t be afraid to enter things like essay competitions or case presentations etc.

I entered a literature review in the Undergraduate Awards which received recognition, and also took part in the Costello Medal at the IDA Conference. I entered the IFPDC Bursary Competition, and while I didn’t win, it showed I was interested and received some recognition.

At the time it was a little bit of extra work to do, but I have realised since how much of a benefit all of those little things were in helping build a CV.

Did you complete any interviews or exams, if so what advice would you give?

I have recently passed both parts of the MFDS exams. This is an exam offered by the Royal College of Surgeons, and it is aimed at testing the knowledge and experience of someone who is around 2 years qualified. It is basically a post-graduate qualification that shows you are keeping up-to-date with your knowledge. Also, while it is not supposed to be mandatory, it is a pretty basic requirement that is looked for when applying for any hospital jobs.

There are two parts to it – the first is all EMQ’s and MCQ’s, and the second part is all OSCE stations. I would recommend sitting Part I as soon as possible, while everything from Dental School is freshest. You can’t sit Part II until you are in your second year after graduating, and the more experience you have for this the better.

The MJDF is an equivalent exam offered by the RCS, which seems to be more popular in England.

Have you enjoyed the career path you chose?

I have really enjoyed it. It has given me a great foundation for my future career, whatever route that will take. I have enjoyed working with and learning from a whole range of different people in different settings, and it has given me an insight into what it would be like to work in a hospital or to work in general practice.

Edinburgh is a great place to live too, as there is always something on. For the month of August the Fringe Festival is on, which was the perfect time to move over! Wherever you move, it is important to have a good social scene, and this course gave me a chance to meet lots of people doing the same thing.

What are the pros and cons about your career choice?

There are definitely more pros than cons. Firstly, it provided a good salary for two years, which meant I didn’t need to worry about trying to decide what I was going to do next for a while. The main benefit though is the broad range of experience it offers in a variety of settings, which has given me a lot of confidence in dealing with the different patient groups. It also gave me a chance to figure out which areas I particularly liked or disliked.

There are mandatory study days, which are basically some lectures or hands-on courses. These were a great way of continually improving my knowledge and skills, but they also provided enough CPD hours to cover me for 5 years. (CPD is mandatory in the UK, with a certain amount required in each 5-year cycle.) The good thing is that these only amounted to around 50 days over the two years, which meant quite often we had a day off each week.

A huge advantage of a course like this is that it keeps all the doors open career wise. You get to prepare for the MFDS exams, and participate in areas like clinical audit and research, which are all boxes that must be ticked on a CV if you are considering going down the hospital route.

An obvious downside is that there is the potential to earn more money as an associate in your early years after graduating, but I wouldn’t swap that for all the advantages a course like this offers.

What advice would you give new graduates who are interested in your career path?

I would advise everyone to seriously consider at least a year of Vocational Training. Even if a hospital career is not what you want, a year working with someone who can provide support when needed is so beneficial. There is so much about working in a General Practice that I have picked up from my trainer, and it is also great that there is no time or financial pressures during your first year of work. Your career is going to be a very long one, so even though you probably won’t earn as much in a year of VT as you would as an associate, the amount you can learn from someone who has been through it all already makes it worth it.

To get onto my LDFT programme, I had to first fill out a long application form. This is the hardest part to get right. As it is such a competitive process, the initial applications are whittled down to around 15 or so applicants, so there is little room for error. They provide a ‘Person Specification’ form, which outlines the characteristics they are looking for, so it is very important to ensure all of these are mentioned in the application form.

The next stage is an interview with a panel of 3, which is made up of a representative from each of the areas you work in. This was very relaxed, but again there are a number of ‘tick-the-box’ areas they expect you to mention here in order to meet the desired criteria.

Following this stage, around 10-12 people are sent through to practice visits. You visit each of the General Practices on the scheme, and have a 10 minute chat/interview with them. This is very informal, but they have the final say in who gets chosen so it is important to try and make a good impression here.

If anyone is interested in this route, I would strongly recommend speaking to someone who has been through it already. There are some staff in Cork Dental School who have been through the same scheme, so it worth going through your application with them before sending it in. I would also be happy to help anyone who is interested.


Topics: DFT/VT, Maxfac



What route did you take when you left UCC Dentistry?

I graduated in 2011. I applied for a DF1 position (Dental Foundation Year 1, formerly called VT) in the North West Deanery (Manchester) in the UK. I then applied for the DF2 (Dental Foundation Year 2) in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and am currently in my final month of this position. I have been successful in applying for the DF3 and start in August, with my specific DF3 position involving 6 months of oral medicine and another 6 months of oral and maxillofacial surgery. DF2 and DF3 positions don’t necessarily have to be in the specialities I chose: you can get DF2 and DF3 positions in community dentistry, restorative and paeds too.

What made you choose the career path you took?

I wanted to do the DF1 in order to be in a salaried and structured job in which I could see as many or as few patients as I liked while developing on my knowledge from college in a pressure-free environment.

Did you complete any interviews or exams, if so what advice would you give?

The interview system for DF1 in the UK changed last year and so the entry pathway I took is now redundant. Whereas I had a ‘workshop’ day where I met all of the trainers in an informal environment before arranging interviews on the basis of who I got on with and which practices I liked, the interview system now is much more regulated. Every candidate receives a standardised interview and, based on the score you receive, can then go on to actually choose which practice they want according to rank.

In my DF1 year I did Part 1 of the MFDS and passed Part 2 the following year. The exam is not as difficult as people lead you to believe (the part 2 being of a very similar standard to the OSCEs you get in 3rd and 4th year at UCC) so if you have any intention of sitting the MJDF or MFDS then have no fear about applying for it in your first year!

During my DF1 year I applied for the DF2 year. The interviews for DF2 in the North West involve two panel interviews and two practical tests, usually a Class IV composite and a suturing test. All the interviewers look for is experience in audit, any publications you have done or are currently involved in, a basic understanding of clinical governance (a load of rubbish but that’s the way it is) and essentially want to see that you have motivation to continue your education and continue to get better. To be honest you don’t even have to have publications to be successful in applying for DF2, but it’s always nice.

Have you enjoyed the career path you chose?

Very much so. The DF1 in the North West is very well run. You have 30 mandatory study days during the year. This has two advantages, the main one being that you get loads of Fridays off, and the second being that the study day usually involves lectures from an esteemed speaker in some aspect of restorative dentistry and occasionally practical days for aesthetic composites, endo and prosthetics where you get to play with new endo rotary systems or expensive composites (courses that would cost a GDP a few hundred pounds easily). I learned loads and the study days are very relaxed so it’s great for getting to know all the other DF1s in the area. The DF1 salary is around 31,000 pounds.

I am currently a DF2, doing Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Royal Blackburn Hospital. For those interested in anything to do with Oral Surgery or Maxfax, Blackburn is widely known as the best place to do your DF2 year in the North West. I see patients in clinics, have MOS sessions, theatre sessions and on-call duties. The hours are very long but I have been given huge experience in MOS under both LA and GA and have done open surgery with consultant supervision for maxillo-facial trauma, spreading infections of the head and neck, head and neck cancer etc. It’s a fantastic program with loads of opportunity for publication too. The DF2 year also has dedicated study days (only 10 in the year) for things like suturing, oral medicine, head and neck radiology, and some restorative topics as well. All DF2s are also allocated a one thousand pound study fund to be used for any exams or courses that you are interested in. The DF2 salary in just over 38,000 pounds.

I would honestly make the contention that doing a job in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (even if you have no intention of ever doing oral surgery or maxfax) should be considered by every one. You gain so much confidence in dealing with every possible adverse outcome in dentistry (how to surgically extract broken or impacted teeth, dental trauma, massive bleeding post-extraction, surgical emphysema, large dento-facial abscesses, etc) that nothing could possibly faze you once you return to practice. You also gain a very good understanding of what constitutes an appropriate referral and what could and should be dealt with in practice.

What are the pros and cons about your career choice?

The pros of following a defined post-graduate training pathway are that is is salaried, provides an Irish graduate with a very easily accessible social network of peers doing the same training, allows skills and knowledge to be consolidated in a protected environment, and allows for huge scope for learning and training that you just don’t get to see as an undergraduate.

The other big advantage is that by progressing through the formal training pathways in the UK, you have the best chance of becoming a registrar in orthodontics, prosthetics, oral surgery, restorative or whatever you want to do in your career. We all know that Ireland is in the doldrums career-wise for the younger people graduating, but the UK is still providing excellent post-graduate training and it’s there to be taken advantage of.

The best part of all is just the craic I had moving away with a few friends. I lived with two lads in my class in city centre Manchester during my DF1 year and we couldn’t have been happier.

The cons of doing the DF1 are few and far between. Financially, you see people in your class earning a lot more than you after about 6 months but other than that you’re laughing, and by constantly adding to your CV and gaining new skills every year, you can’t go wrong. I would encourage anyone in doubt as to what to do with themselves to apply for DF1.

What advice would you give new graduates who are interested in your career path?

Be prepared to be shocked by working in NHS primary care dentistry. You have no idea how good your training is at UCC until you see what’s out there (and frankly when you realise how superiorly you have been trained to the majority of the UK graduates in everything from theory to practical experience). My main advice would be to always hold on to the principles that you learned in UCC because it doesn’t get any better for restorative dentistry than that, trust me.

PAUL RYAN, 2011 Graduate

Topics: VT, Maxfac




What route did you take when you left UCC Dentistry?

Qualified 2007

VT (Edinburgh)

DF2 – 6 months in Salaried Dental Services in Scotland; 6 months in Paediatric Dept in Glasgow Dental Hospital.

MFDS – April 2009

SHO – Edinburgh Dental Institute (Restorative Dept and Oral Surgery/Oral Med)

StR post in Paediatric Dentistry – Edinburgh Dental Institute.

MClinDent in Paediatric Dentistry – 2012

MPaedDent – April 2013

What made you choose the career path you took?

I always enjoyed Paeds more than any other aspect of Dentistry so it was an easy choice for me! I can have fun with the children while I work and because all aspects of Dentistry are involved, there’s great variety in the job.

Did you do anything in 4th or 5th year that helped prepare you for this path?

No. We didn’t do electives at the time but that could be a good way of getting some extra experience working with children in a different environment.

Did you complete any interviews or exams, if so what advice would you give?

Yes. I did interviews for all the posts listed above and have completed several exams (see above). It’s helpful to keep a portfolio with a logbook, exam results, additional experience/qualifications, publications, audits, presentstions etc and keep your CV up to date as you go.

How have you enjoyed the career path you chose?

Yes. It’s been hard work so far but I am looking forward to an easier life now!

What are the pros and cons about your career choice?

Pros- challenging, interesting, very rewarding

Cons- uncertain job prospects in Ireland and UK as a specialist (but easier to obtain a position as a consultant in the UK), children are unpredictable, managing parents’ expectations.

What advice would you give new graduates who are interested in your career path?

Talk to specialists/consultants in practice and in hospital.

Talk to trainees about their roles/responsibilities.

SIOBHAN LUCEY, 2007 Graduate

Topics: VT, Paediatrics




What route did you take when you left UCC Dentistry?

I went straight into practice in the UK as an associate dentist for about 2 years, then did my MFDS and took up a post in oral and maxillofacial surgery for a year and a half in the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital.

I decided during that period that I was most interested in oral medicine and so applied to UCC to go back and do a four year medical degree which I was able to do.

After a year as an intern in Cork (a pretty thankless task) I applied for what’s called over here a ‘career development post’ in oral medicine at Sheffield dental hospital last year. Very luckily for me the specialist registrar in the unit completed her training after 6 months of my arrival and I was successful in the interview for the then vacant training post ( 3 years if you’ve done medicine, 5 years without a medical degree).

What made you choose the career path you took?

I love the interaction with patients and i’m not rushed in taking a decent history. In oral medicine you have to be reasonably patient and inquisitive. The diagnostic process is the same for most patients but there’s huge variation in what you might end up dealing with. You really have to love looking in patients mouths and asking patients questions – that’s something that became a bit of a mantra for me every time I questioned where my career was going!

I also think that if you’re the kind of person that likes lists – i.e. making lots of them or categorising things then oral medicine doesn’t disappoint.
After a year of holding a bleep as an intern I also wanted a 9 to 5 job  (though to be honest its currently more like 8.30 – 6.30) where you know your weekends are your own if you want them to be.

Did you do anything in 4th or 5th year that helped prepare you for this path?

Not a thing!!  My advice – do an elective to broaden the mind or failing that go on a trip unrelated to dentistry  (again to broaden the mind).
I’m sure Dr McCreary wouldn’t mind giving someone with an interest in oral medicine the chance to get more experience with patients.

Did you complete any interviews or exams, if so what advice would you give?

I did the MFDS (I forget what it’s called now) after graduating in dentistry.

Oral medicine is a pretty small community so if you come to the meetings then you’ll get known – check out the British Society of Oral Medicine website which will list all upcoming meetings

There is a yearly ‘winter meeting’ where undergraduates are encouraged to present cases or research and I must say that if an undergraduate travelled from Cork to present a case it would look quite good on a cv. Also its a small informal meeting where the ethos is all about encouraging participation. Even attending lets you get to know some us trainees in oral medicine which can’t be a bad thing!

How have you enjoyed the career path you chose?

Loved it! Being able to go back and study medicine was fantastic. But I must say that I also enjoyed dentistry (apart from root canal treatment!!!)  Wherever I was, no matter what pressure I was under I realised the importance of surrounding myself with good friends and keeping the balance right – never let an exam get in the way of living your life/socialising/developing other apsects of your character!!

What are the pros and cons about your career choice?

Pros – always learning new things; small specialty therefore easy to get noticed as an enthusiastic would-be trainee; you get to talk to patients without the same time constraints of being in practice; working in a hospital environment is more sociable; opportunity to teach undergraduates which is great fun; training in oral medicine is well structured;

*** In the last few years the training pathway has changed such that you no longer have to have both a dental and medical degree to do oral medicine, a dental degree is sufficient. In saying that I would recommend doing a medical degree for oral medicine but you should know it’s no substitute for enthusiasm and drive!

Cons – small specialty therefore no guarantee you can get a training post; training path is long; training can be costly especially if you do medicine – may have to get a loan; may have to move about a bit which can affect your personal life.

What advice would you give new graduates who are interested in your career path?

Get in touch with people via email who are in the specialty.
Ask Christine McCreary about getting more exposure to oral medicine.
Check out the BSOM website and turn up at some meetings – years later you might be sitting across from these people in an interview and they WILL remember you!!


Topics: Associate, Medicine, Oral Medicine



What route did you take when you left UCC Dentistry?

Graduated 2010

VT London deanery 2010-11

SHO oral and maxfac Eastmans Dental Hospital/Great Ormond St Hospital and ULCH 2011-12

MJDF exams 2011-12

General Practice, Geneva, Switzerland 2012

What made you choose the career path you took?

I wanted to improve my skill set-especially oral surgery, so I did VT and SHO job. I decided to go back to general practice to avoid deskilling after a year of maxfac.

Did you do anything in 4th or 5th year that helped prepare you for this path?

Applications for VT, getting as much practise with complicated cases as possible.

Did you complete any interviews or exams, if so what advice would you give?

Don’t underestimate yourself-the UK graduates turn up to the interviews very confident-don’t let them make you nervous!

Never be afraid to give the answer “I would seek a second opinion/ask fo help from senior member of staff”- they want to hire someone who is safe and knows their limitations.

Have you enjoyed the career path you chose?

Yes-great way to travel and pick up new skills.

What are the pros and cons about your career choice?

Learning/working through French (pro and a con!)

Not doing general dentistry for a year while doing Maxfac (con)

Working in amazing hospital and having the opportunities to get involved in papers and audits (pro)

What advice would you give new graduates who are interested in your career path?

DO VT! you do not know everything when you graduate!


AOIFE BAMBURY, 2010 Graduate

Topics: VT, SHO Maxfac, General Practice
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What route did you take when you left UCC Dentistry?

Vocational training in Uk, followed by two years in SHO posts (max fac) and hospital general duties all in the UK. Took my MFDS exams.

Then worked in general practice ( 4 days) and 1 day in OS Dept in Manchester Dental Hospital for four years

Returned to Ireland and bought a general practice. 18 months ago.

What made you choose the career path you took?

I wanted to keep all my options open so I could specialise if I wanted to at some point.

Did you do anything in 4th or 5th year that helped prepare you for this path?

I went to the Cambridge, Uk to a VT roadshow where practices were trying to recruit VT’s.

I didn’t decide which path to take until after my finals.

Did you complete any interviews or exams, if so what advice would you give?

VT, GPT ( general professional training), MFDS exams, Hospital job interview for OS tutor. Lots of general practice interviews.

Go and see lots of different practices.

Have you enjoyed the career path you chose?

Yes, especially the experience in my SHO and hospital OS tutor post.

What advice would you give new graduates who are interested in your career path?

Keep all your options open especially in the first four years


Topics: VT, SHO Maxfac, General Practice
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