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Life after dental school

For many of us, the motivation to study hard and commit to dental school is spurred on by the career opportunities afterwards. Here you will find some routes that are typically taken after graduation. See our alumni profiles to get some tips and advice about the path that past UCC alumni have taken. If you would like to contribute your experience after graduation, please fill out this questionnaire.

Dental associate

A typical route after graduation is becoming a Dental Associate in an established general dental practice. This role gives you the opportunity to hone your skills and be exposed to a larger variety of patients and procedures than you see at university. Typically Associates earn 40-50% of their treatment costs, with the other 50-60% covering rental, equipment, staff and material costs. For many specialty positions, a minimum of 2 years experience as an associate is required.

Dental Foundation Training/Vocational Training (VT)

Many students choose to further their dental training by completing 1-2 years of DFT in the UK. While it is not a requirement for Irish students, some students feel that the extra time under supervised training enhances their skills and gives them more confidence before working privately. All applications must be made via the recruitment portal hosted by London Deanery using the nationally agreed application form.

Be sure to check the London Deanery Website and their applications portal and the COPDEND Website for up to date details.

This blog is also helpful [link].

For the 2013 Applicant Guide, see this link.

For the COPDEND detailed pdf on what to expect with DFT, see this link.

Important Dates: 

Applications open – first monday in September

Applications close – first monday in October

Selection interviews – typically in the 3rd week November

Offers – second week of January.



Dr. Burke usually makes you aware of the VT process. There are 3 options: Northern Ireland, Scotland and England.

Northern Ireland was done by a process of interview which composed of stations like an OSCE. You have to travel up to a hotel in Belfast and everybody applying does it at the same time (its on for 2 days and you’ll have to go to one of them, it’s alphabetic I think). Station 1 was a communication station where we were given details of a patients chart and medical history etc. and had to write a referral letter to another dentist. Thats followed by the “interview” part which isn’t an interview in terms of asking about yourself its more like an OSCE exam where they have a checklist of things they want you to point out. For example, they had bitewings left on the table, I had to put them up on a viewer correctly and point out any caries I felt I saw. Next station was being asked how I’d handle a conflict in the workplace.


It’s the same idea for England applications. The interviews occurred in about November, again in the form of an OSCE which was more clinical focused with actors playing patients. The markers just sit and watch while you diagnose and discuss treatment options with patient. It’s handy to go to London Deanery website and get their marking scheme and person specification sheets in advance so you can try make sure you tick as many boxes as you can. After that you rank every area in England in order of preference and they rank every candidate by what mark they got. The better you do the more likely you are to get your first choice.


Scotland was different, they put a portal online almost like Facebook where you can go and view all of the trainers profiles and ask them can you go interview. There’s a 3 week visitation period where you can visit them. It’s handy as you get to meet the people and see the practice before you rank where you want to go. You can rank 8 places, the trainers rank 8 candidates and they match up the best, like speed dating. There’s talk of a revamp of the Scottish process.

Starting work in Ireland

Before you leave Cork, you will need to get a few things:

1. Letter of good standing from the Dean – request this from the Dental School Office

2. Transcripts of all years which state your graduation date – request from Exams Office

3. Approval from two staff to be your referees when you need them

4. Degree certificate (on graduation day – it will be in latin; you can request english copies from NUI)


To work in Ireland, you will need to:

* Indemnity insurance – e.g. with dental protection

* Dental council registration

* Register as self-employed by filling out a TR1 form with the revenue

* Open a separate bank account for your work related accounts

* Join the dental panel to provide the social welfare dental scheme

* Get a GMS number, by calling your local health office to provide the medical card dental scheme

* Get a credit card terminal e.g. AIB/BOI, Elavon, Paymentsense etc

* You can opt to join the Irish Dental Association (it’s free for first year out)

* Find a job 😉

Working as a GDP in the UK

If you are interested in working either privately or on the NHS as a graduate dentist, there are a few important documents and registrations that you will need:

  • Your degree certificate in English
  • References
  • General Dental Council registration
  • Indemnity Insurance
  • National Insurance Number
  • Performer Number
  • Criminal Records Bureau background check

See our guide for more information: Working in UK Checklist


Postgraduate specialisation in areas such as Orthodontics, Periodontics, Prosthodontics, Endodontics and Oral Surgery requires a number of additional training years post-graduation. Depending on the dental school and specialty, these courses may be full-time or part-time. Details of the postgraduate training available at UCC is available here.

Working abroad


Read this article by dental protection [link]



Since December 2012, Irish dental schools (Cork & Dublin) have been granted approval to sit the National Dental Examining Board (NDEB) Exams without the requirement of equivalency. The NDEB exams are available 3 times annually (March, May, November) and may be taken 3 months before graduation (and for 5 years after). At the moment (June 2013) there are no test centres set up in Ireland/UK so applicants must travel to Canada to sit the exam. The total fee is approx Ca$2200. For detailed information, see this link.

Study Material

Make sure you go through all the sample questions available on the NDEB website.

You can also join the facebook group “NDEB (Canadian Dental Exam)” where students discuss questions and answers.

Readings: Dental Decks and Kaplan

Important Dates: 

Registration – end Sept for Nov, end Jan for March, end March for May

Written Exam – day 1 – mid Nov, mid March, mid May

OSCE – day 2 – mid Nov, mid March, mid May

Offers – 6 weeks later approx

Military dental officer

For detailed information, see this link.