Foundation Dentist and CGDent NextGen Ambassador, Dr Choudhury Rahman, describes his experience transitioning from undergraduate studies to Foundation Dental Training, along with tips on how to make this change smoother and get the most out of the year!

As I sat down waiting for my first patient as a qualified dentist, I debated how to introduce myself. Dr Rahman, or just Choudhury? I felt the same nerves I did when I saw my first patient as an undergrad, a sense of imposter syndrome. Am I really a dentist now?

When I think back to this time last year, running up to finals, wishing it would be over with, I never thought I would have learnt as much as I have now, in just a few months of FD training. Nothing quite prepares you for general practice.

The pace at which you learn and develop is unbelievable. From seeing three patients a day in the undergrad clinic to 20-30 in general practices, along with vast quantities of treatment. When people tell you that you’ll do more treatment in a month of FD vs the whole of undergrad, they aren’t joking.

Of course, the experience you get will depend on where you work. If you’re fortunate enough to work in an area of high needs like mine in Rochdale, you will get bags of treatment – lots of caries, restorations, extractions, and root canals. However, you may also work in an area where you can do more aesthetic work, or somewhere with great oral surgery experience.

Here are my tips on how to make the transition smoother and get the most out of your FD year:

  1. Spend time making good treatment plans

    Sit down with your Educational Supervisor (ES), discuss cases with them, and get help with deciding what treatment to do. This will be your biggest learning curve, deciding independently what treatment to do and when. The more experience you get doing this, the better you will be at planning by yourself over time. Remember, you don’t have to make it at your initial appointment, you can always bring the patient back for this.
  1. Don’t worry about how long you need for treatments

    Want to spend three hours doing a molar endo? Or two hours on some posterior composites? Do it. FD year is when you get the chance to spend as long as you want on the treatments you want to do. You aren’t paid by Units of Dental Activity (UDAs), you’re paid a fixed salary. Use the time you have to provide good, high-quality treatment, and then you can focus on building speed towards the later stages.
  1. Push yourself with complex treatments

    You will have the support of an Educational Supervisor by your side throughout the year. They are there to help you and guide you. Take on that difficult molar endo, and plan for that surgical extraction. It’s your one year where you have help at every step of the way if you need it.
  1. Build a good relationship with everyone at your practice

    From the receptionist, the practice principal, and of course, your nurses. If you build a good bond with your team, and look after them, they will look after you!

Overall it’s been a tremendous experience. I have been very fortunate to have an amazing practice and a supportive ES. FD training is a unique and enjoyable experience. You can practice all the things in dentistry you love, not worry about UDA targets or lab bills, and push yourself with challenging cases knowing someone has your back. But one thing is for sure, you will get out what you put into this year. If you put in 100%, you will get so much out of your FD year.

One last thing I recommend is to become a member of the College of General Dentistry. I’ve been told by many colleagues, at this stage of your career, the world is your oyster. It can be difficult to navigate and work out exactly what you want to do. Should I do Dental Core Training (DCT)? Is MFDS really worth it? What postgrad training course should I enrol for? These are all questions a mentor will help you answer when you enrol on their Certified Membership Scheme, which is crucial at this stage of your career.

Author bio

“I Graduated from University of Manchester in 2023 and am currently doing my FD Training in the Greater Manchester North Scheme. I’m also a NextGen Ambassador for the College of General Dentistry. My clinical interests include Oral Surgery and Prosthodontics. I aspire to become a well rounded GDP, able to provide full mouth rehabilitation including placement and restoration of implants. Outside of work, I enjoy running and 5-a-side football.”

Dr Choudhury Rahman