What is the point of ranking highly in DF1 if you do not get the right dental practice for you?
The DF1 year is a critical one. It is important for clinical experience and will shape your future career to come. The vast majority of DF1 trainees get a say in which dental practice they get. It is down to you to chose a practice that you think will best fulfill your aims.
The difficulty is how do you chose a dental practice out of the ten in your scheme?
This article will cover 5 pointers about my personal experience of choosing and the most important factors that you have to take into account.
1) Forward looking practice
Having a look at my scheme, roughly 50% of dental practices do not have a website. A website suggests that a practice is embracing modern technology. The website can tell you a lot about the dental practice. Here is a good example. Is it updated regularly? Does the dental practice offer specialist treatments? Are the specialists in a field that you are interested in? Does the practice use computer based notes and radiographs? If so what type?
2) Distance to work
I underestimated the importance of this when I chose. In DF1 you can be working from 9am-6pm Monday to Friday. I travel for 1 and a half hours meaning that I wake up at 6:30am and get back home for 7:30pm. You have to weigh up whether the dental practice you are choosing is worth the commute or find a way of renting a house close by.
3) Working environment
This is very difficult to assess without going to the dental practice itself. One good method is ringing up the practice and listening to the way that the receptionist answers the phone. Is he/she abrupt or does she have a nice manner? Do they even pick up the phone at all – if so perhaps this is not the kind of practice that you want to be at. It may even be worthwhile dropping by the dental practice when they are not expecting you. That will be a true test of what the dental practice is usually like.
Would you prefer a city practice or one that is more in the suburbs? Local amenities such as shopping and restaurants can be important especially when looking for a cheap place to eat lunch! Nandos anyone?
5) The VT trainer
The list would not be complete without mentioning the VT trainer. It is important that you google them and find out if they are active in the dental field. Have they written research papers or do they have MSc in a field that you are interested in? I chose my DF1 trainers based on the fact that they have the RCS (Dip) in dental implantology. I was lucky as I got two trainers: Hussein and Kat.
Once you have come up with a list of pro’s and con’s for each dental practice, it will really come down to a gut feeling about how you rank each practice. Malcolm Gladwell author of Blink says that your unconscious mind can make a correct decision within two seconds of processing information. Research hard, decide easy.