Moving away from your comfort zone

IMG_0002Hear about Phil Teggart’s journey through the Core Curriculum at The Dawson Academy.

‘I’m glad I came out of my comfort zone! Learning with the Dawson Academy you’re encouraged to use the skills you’ve acquired straight away. And you can!

‘For me, it encourages me to aspire to the patient care of the highest quality and ethical standards, developing and enhancing many of the key and advanced skills of a general dental practitioner.’ – Phil Taggart

I qualified in dentistry with commendation in 2000 from the University of Dundee in 2001, having already gained a first class honours BMSc intercalated degree in 1997. After completing my vocational training in Aberdeen, I moved back home to Northern Ireland and have worked in general dental practice ever since. I have completed the MJDF postgraduate diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons of England and am working on the final part of my MGDS qualification with the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland.

I work full time in a general practice in Lurgan, County Armagh. I have been there for seven years now and in my time there I have enjoyed two cycles as a vocational trainer.

My interests lie in restorative dentistry, especially occlusion, and adhesive dentistry. I also enjoy working with anxious patients, helping them to overcome their fears of the dental experience.

I recently completed the Dawson Academy course held over a one-year period in Magherafelt, Northern Ireland with Dr Ian Buckle. I attended the Dawson alumni retreat in San Sebastian and have started the Dawson Academy core curriculum with Dr Buckle and colleagues.

Outside of work I enjoy spending time with Sharon my wife, and working on my golf swing.

Why choose Dawson?

The first time I came across the Dawson Academy was when I attended a meeting of the IAAD (Irish Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry) in 2015. Dr Buckle was the key speaker that evening and I was very impressed by how he was able to bring together patient history, examination and diagnosis with an understandable respect of occlusion. I found the treatment planning and treatment steps logical and was very impressed by the standard of treatment he provided.

Prior to this I was unsure how to apply my improving knowledge of occlusion to help me tackle restorative treatment. I was delighted to be offered a place on the one-year course in Northern Ireland and the clear, consistent, comprehensive approach to history taking, records and examination really helped make occlusion clear to me.

Building on that foundation, Dr Buckle coaxed me out of my comfort zone by encouraging me to take bite registration records and mount my study models on my articulator. Since that day, my articulator has gone from an ornament gathering dust on my shelf to an important tool in my diagnostic and treatment planning process. Now it is a device I understand how to use and get the most out of.

Why take this course and why is it different from the rest?

I found that what I was learning on the course related very closely to the needs of patients I was seeing every day in practice. Sometimes you go on a course, get all fired up about the new skills you’ve learned and then a suitable case doesn’t appear and by the time it does you are unsure if you still have the skills or maybe you need a refresh.

What is great about the core curriculum is from the very outset you are encouraged to go out into practice and use the skills you’ve acquired straight away. And you can! Really, it is the best way to develop by starting the very next day.

For example, the photography session in module one helped me make great strides forward in the quality of my clinical photography after a very short time. Literally going back into practice the next day I could see my photography improving right away.

How has it changed you?

The course has given me the confidence and skills I need to assess new cases and more complex cases in a much more comprehensive and efficient way. I have a much clearer understanding of the principles of occlusion and their application in clinical practice. I am more confident communicating with patients about treatment options and in establishing end point goals for treatment.

The whole process is more predictable but ultimately the outcomes have improved for both the patient and myself.

Any advice for other dentists and specialists not yet signed up with Dawson?

The Dawson Academy approach is one that puts the wellbeing of the patient at the heart of everything it does. For me, it encourages me to aspire to the patient care of the highest quality and ethical standards, developing and enhancing many of the key and advanced skills of a general dental practitioner. The outcomes should be happier patients, staff and of course dentists.

I would highly recommend the Dawson Academy Core Curriculum to practising dentists whether newly qualified or many years qualified; there is much you can gain from the course that will improve the outcomes of care for both you and your patients.

For more information on the Dawson Academy, visit

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