A young dentist’s guide to national recruitment

shutterstock_273362396Oliver Jones presents a guide for final year dental students.

The words ‘national recruitment’ bring fear to all those current final year dentists. This quick guide was written to really put everyone at ease by giving an outline of the process and some key points to look over.

What do I need to know?

GDC principles: these are nine core ethical principles in Standards for the Dental Team that professionals must adhere to at all times. This is a must read, and these principles underpin any scenario or situation judgement test you may be given.

Communication skills: these are at the heart of any professional relationship, and you can never have enough practise with them.

Law and ethics: there are many aspects here that may crop up in scenarios. Consent is one of the most important topics to be covered as it can be brought up in a variety of ways. These include: valid consent for an adult with capacity, valid consent for an adult without capacity and valid consent for a child. Confidentiality is ‘a set of rules or a promise that limits access, or places restrictions on certain types of information’. Applying this to a dental setting, it refers to information about the patients – either in the notes, or from what they have told you.

Complaints will often arise due to a breakdown in communication, or from a failure to meet the patient’s expectations. Knowing the cause for a complaint is essential in being able to resolve it.

You must always put the safety of the patient first, and take action if this is at risk. This can include raising concerns about a colleagues safety to practice, or if you have concerns about a child or vulnerable adult.

Safeguarding of adults and children is an extremely important aspect of dentistry, the whole team need to be aware of how to recognise the signs of abuse and the appropriate action to take.

Clinical governance: what separates a good dentist from a great dentist is what they learn from their mistakes and how they improve from them. Clinical governance is a way of improving the quality of patient care and learning from mistakes.

It can include aspects such as a clinical audit, an adverse event analysis, a risk analysis, or even a patient satisfaction survey. All of these are looking to improve the quality of your care to your patients.

How to analyse a scenario

You will have two scenarios on the day, both lasting 10 minutes with five minutes prep time.

Communication scenario: this has a medical actor as the patient, and two examiners who will be marking you. The medical actors are good, they have been known to come in with bruises and cuts on their faces in previous years.

As the title suggests, they are really focussing on your communication skills here, and how you address the issues raised by the patient.

Professionalism, management, leadership scenario: this will be with two examiners who you will talk through the scenario with. The examiners may push you and ask ‘is there anything else you would like to add?’ – don’t panic if they do this, it just means there is more time left and they don’t want any awkward silences!

Try and divide this scenario up into immediate actions you would do that involve the patient, and late actions, which involve the clinical governance issues.

Pick up on key points – everything written in the scenario is there for a reason. What is the main complaint? This needs to be addressed first. Patient age can indicate motivation and influence the treatment you would offer. Think about anxiety and motivation for treatment. Are they a regular or irregular attender? Are there any legal issues? Consent, confidentiality, negligence, and whistleblowing? Are there any important aspects to the medical or social history?

My top 10 tips for success

  1. Practise, practise, practise! This the key to doing well. You need to be comfortable speaking through scenarios, so time yourselves and practise with your friends
  2. Communication skills – make eye contact, act professionally, pick up on the patient’s body language, be patient and controlled
  3. Think rationally – they are looking and judging whether you will be a safe foundation dentist. If you are struggling for words take your time, it’s better to have a silence than to say something silly
  4. The easy marks – introducing yourself, checking medical history, clear communication, involving the patient, seeking a second opinion, knowing when to refer – do not forget them
  5. Know the nine GDC principles – these underpin all aspects of dentistry
  6. Impressions count – try and act confident, even if you’re not feeling it, it will reassure the patient and examiners. Dress smartly and be polite
  7. Show empathy and sympathy – active listening, involving the patient, encouraging questions and adapting to patient responses will all show this. Try and show some emotion
  8. Have a plan – have a rough guide to follow to bring you back on track if you get lost
  9. Make notes – these will help to jog your memory and ensure you don’t forget any points you have thought of beforehand
  10. What would you do? Imagine you are in the situation and think ‘what would I actually do if this happened to me?’ It sounds simple but it really does work.

Oliver Jones graduated from The University of Sheffield with a BDS (Hons) in July 2015. He is now completing his FD year in Portsmouth at a small family-based practice learning the ins and outs of NHS dentistry and enjoying living down by the sea.

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