The majority of dentists choose to become self-employed general dental practitioners (GDPs), but some aim to become consultants in the hospital dental service or enter other salaried posts, e.g. in the Community Dental Service (CDS) (known as the Salaried Primary Dental Care Service (SPDCS) in England), corporate practices, the armed forces or academia.
A dental graduate entering general dental practice starts in a one-year salaried post as a vocational dental practitioner (VDP). From here, progression is possible to the role of associate or partner in the practice. Many dentists eventually go on to own and run a practice as general dental practitioners (GDPs).
Self-employed dentists are not ordinarily entitled to benefits such as paid annual or sick leave and they also have responsibility for the management of staff, budgets, tax, equipment and premises. However, they may have the freedom to arrange their own working hours and choose their specialist areas of interest. In general practice, a reputation for competent work is crucial for attracting and retaining patients and ensuring the success of the business.
Hospital dentists follow a defined career structure and training pathway and have to obtain recognised postgraduate qualifications in order to progress to senior posts. The four main specialisms in the hospital dental service are:
In the CDS/SPDCS, experience is gained as a community clinical dental officer (CCDO) with further opportunity to gain postgraduate qualifications by part-time study. CCDOs may wish to become senior dental officers (SDOs), with a special responsibility in areas such as epidemiology or treating patients with special needs.
In the armed forces, cadetships at undergraduate level lead to commissions, and dental officers share in many aspects of service life.
Dentists working in universities with dental schools and teaching hospitals can, with relevant postgraduate qualifications, progress to a senior lectureship or professorial post.
To maintain registration with the General Dental Council (GDC) , dentists are required to complete a minimum of 250 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) over the course of a five-year cycle. It sounds a lot, but it should simply be a formal framework for what you're already doing.
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