Expert dentist shares career advice for new graduates

Olivia Mitchell shares her career and development advice to newly qualified dentists.

Following graduation, dentists will apply for a role as a foundation dentist, where they will be mentored through their first year in practice. Newly qualified dentists will see patients on a daily basis, starting with longer appointment times to avoid time pressures and will perform basic treatments such as examinations and taking X-rays. This will gradually develop into undertaking more complex procedures like fillings, gum treatment and extractions. By the end of the year, young dentists will be expected to see patients throughout the day and work towards the standard appointment time, meaning they will have to manage their time well.

Newly qualified dentists are expected to have strong clinical skills, but communication skills are equally as important. Dentists must be emotionally intelligent, have empathy with patients and the ability to listen to them; a vital part of being a dentist is about having an inherent passion to help people, in addition to the technical aspect of the job. When people visit the dentist they can be extremely anxious and it’s the job of a dentist to turn that around, put them at ease and provide them with excellent treatment.

What’s more, applying for foundation dentistry roles is a competitive process, and as graduates generally have similar degree qualifications, first impressions really count. Qualifications confirm a person’s technical ability but don’t demonstrate their communication skills. Interviewers are looking for candidates who stand out and have other interests outside of dentistry. Charity work, sports and community involvement all help showcase who you are as a person and they all require skills such as being able to communicate efficiently, and the ability to work as part of a team.

Life-long learning

It’s important that candidates show their personality and ability to effectively interact with others when applying for a job in dentistry. Being proactive, such as networking with professionals in the dental industry and getting out and visiting practices, can help show your enthusiasm.

A passion for learning is also essential. True learning starts once you have qualified and you don’t ever stop learning throughout your career, whether it’s from your peers, experience with patients, or how to use new technology. The dental industry is always changing and developing, and young dentists must show a real interest for life-long learning, proactivity and passion for adapting best practice to improve their patient’s wellbeing.

When practising as a dentist, graduates must demonstrate professionalism at all times and recognise that they’re no longer students. They will be working on the front line in a patient-facing role, so they must be at their best every day and always on time.

Dentistry comes with its challenges and rewards. At the start of a career, giving advice and treating patients can be daunting, but it is essential that dentists never show the patient that they are anxious. That is why on-the-job training and having mentors is so important to help build confidence. Once the nerves have passed, the sense of achievement when a patient is happy and has received a successful treatment is overwhelming, and that feeling is what newly qualified dentists need to strive towards.

For more information on Bupa Dental Care careers, please visit:

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