We are embarking on the development of structured career pathways for dentists and the whole dental team. It’s a keystone of our vision for the future of Primary Care dentistry.

We plan an approach which is:

  • Patient- and profession-centred: recognising the mutual interest in a trusting and supportive relationship
  • Structured and evidence-based: drawing on the experience of other professions;
  • Consultative: involving practitioners who appreciate the different facets of practice;
  • Authoritative: engaging with the agencies and institutions whose recognition will enhance credibility of the professional standing we represent;
  • Accessible: meaningful and relevant to the dental team and the range of roles that individuals perform;
  • Embracing diversity within our professional constituencies.

The College plans a membership structure that will underpin and foster career-long professionalism, for all members of the dental team, building on these Career Pathways. Our qualifications will be built to support a holistic approach to development and progression.

Our qualifications will be integral to the Career Pathways, and we are working with a range of education and training providers to reach people more effectively.

We have made a start, with an initial structure for testing and exploration, and a programme plan for the months ahead. Our Foundation Members will have an opportunity to get involved in the programme, and we will keep our Supporters up to date as the Career Pathways unfold.


  1. We plan to map Career Pathways for each of the professional constituencies in the dental team, and to do so in a coordinated way that recognises the importance of a team-based approach to patient care.
  2. We plan to underpin our Career Pathways with a “Professional Framework“, which will describe the breadth of capabilities of the practitioner at each stage of their career.
  3. The Career Pathways will define a simple sequence of “career inflection points” – clear steps in a progression- to which specific capabilities will be mapped.
  4. We have developed an initial framework, built on experience elsewhere, and from consultation within the College and with the FGDP(UK). The framework will be tested and populated through a sequence of consultative processes in the coming weeks.

Programme leadership

The Career Pathways programme is led by Janet Clarke MBE, Trustee of the College, and co-sponsored by Abhi Pal, Vice Dean of FGDP(UK). Janet and Abhi have convened a Programme Board together with Simon Thornton-Wood, lead executive for the College.

Kirstie McCulloch has been engaged as Programme Manager. Kirstie brings a wealth of experience in career development and education programme construction.

The Programme Board is now appointing a Reference Group, which will advise and guide the programme in the coming months.

Four work packages are planned, reflecting different constituencies in the dental team, for which we are now appointing Chairs:

  1. General dental practitioners and other dentists working in a primary care setting
  2. Dental Therapists and Dental Hygienists
  3. Dental Nurses and Orthodontic Therapists
  4. Clinical Dental Technicians and Dental Technicians

The Professional Framework

The Professional Framework describes the knowledge, skills and other attributes that primary care dentists and other dental professionals may aspire to at different stages of their career.

A Professional Statement describes the typical level of performance by a practitioner in each of those attributes, at one of those career stages

Our initial Framework identifies five “domains” to describe knowledge, skills and other attributes:

ClinicalThe capability to diagnose, to advise and to treat
ProfessionalismThe conduct and behaviour to engage patient trust and confidence
ReflectionAwareness of personal impact, abilities and limitations
DevelopmentCommitment and capability to improve the service to patients
AgencyThe ability to resolve solutions independently and through others

Each career stage will be accompanied by a description of the capability (identified in the Professional Framework) that is expected of the practitioner at that level.