Why I have left the College a legacy in my will

Dr Shelagh Farrell FCGDent, a College Founder and Ambassador, talks to Professor Nairn Wilson FCGDent, President Emeritus of the College, about leaving a legacy to CGDent.

Nairn: Shelagh, may I begin by thanking you on behalf of the College for your tremendous support for the College as a Founder, one of its first Fellows, Ambassador and now one of its first legators. Such exceptional support is hugely appreciated and of immense importance to the College as it grows and develops. Also, thank you for agreeing to answer the following questions:

Why have you considered it important to support the College with both a Founder’s donation and a legacy?

Shelagh: The Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP(UK)), from the time of its foundation in 1992, always had the ambition of forming a College – Royal College of Dentistry. At the time, we promised the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS Eng) that the Faculty would remain part of the College for 10 years, filling a void left by the Faculty of Anaesthetists which had separated away to form what became the Royal College of Anaesthetists within a matter of a few years. Despite attempts to leave after 10 years, FGDP(UK) remained part of RCS Eng for 28 years.

The income of most, if not all, Royal Colleges comes from its members who pay subscriptions and fees to sit their examinations and benefit from postgraduate qualifications. Over the years, FGDP(UK) changed its qualifications to reflect the ways in which dentistry had moved on; for example, with the increasing use of implants. It is time to change again to create career pathways for all members of the dental team, which are challenging but achievable, thus enhancing standards in the provision of dental care.

When FGDP(UK) was established, it had one office on the ground floor of the RCS Eng. In a short space of time, it was obvious that more staff were needed to support and promote the Faculty’s activities and examination system. The Faculty was then allocated a redundant animal house on the top floor of the RCS Eng building. This became the Faculty offices for the remainder of its time at the RCS Eng.

The new College needs to acquire suitable premises in the process of becoming the Royal College of General Dentistry. This requires money and that is why, besides giving a Founder’s donation, I have left the College a legacy in my will.

N:  What would you like to say to colleagues who have not yet joined and donated to the College?

S: Some colleagues say that they will join the College when it receives Royal status. This, however, creates a “catch 22” situation. Unless the College expands its now growing number of Full Members, Associate Fellows and Fellows, it is unlikely to receive Royal status. Hence, I would urge colleagues of all ages, specifically younger colleagues to join, support the College and, in the process, benefit from a worthwhile career pathway, with mentoring, which will add to their enjoyment of dentistry and enhance their professional fulfilment.

N: In what ways has dentistry in the UK been compromised by not having its own, independent Royal College?

S: The UK has three Royal Surgical Colleges based in London, Edinburgh and Glasgow, all with Faculties of Dental Surgery. Over the years there has been great competition between these Faculties to promote themselves and increase their influence and income both home and abroad. But more important is the opportunity they have to advise and influence (or not) governments, albeit that general dentistry, let alone members of the dental team are not well, if at all, represented in their memberships. Governments listen to Royal Colleges. When the College of General Dentistry becomes the Royal College of General Dentistry, dentistry will at long last have its own independent, UK-wide, collegiate influence, speaking for the whole of the profession. Dentistry, specifically general dental practice, which provides more than 90% of oral healthcare, certainly needs this, as it seems to me at the moment that this core provision of dental services is at the lowest ebb that I have seen over the last 50 years.

N: Shelagh, two more questions. Firstly, what do you see to be the immediate priorities of the College?

S: Recruitment is clearly the way to increase the membership and the influence of the College. Dentistry is the only major healthcare profession which has not got its own Royal College. The majority of dentists are in practice, even if they are specialists. All these dentists, together with the members of their dental teams, need to come together to strengthen their unified voice, to improve standards, and to enhance the care provided to the general public.

N: And finally, what would you like the College to achieve by 2030?

S: I would like to see the College granted Royal status, with the majority of the profession being part of the membership, reaping and continuously improving the benefits the College can provide, enhancing their enjoyment and fulfilment in the wonderful and great career that dentistry can bring. I also hope that the College, then Royal College, will have suitable premises where members, politicians, the media, members of the general public and others can contact and meet staff to enable the College to realise its potential as the much-needed collegiate home for general dentistry.

N: Shelagh, very many thanks for your insightful and thought-provoking answers to my questions. Hopefully, this interview will encourage others to follow your lead as an inspirational Fellow and legator.

With renewed thanks for your exceptional generosity to the College.

Any member wishing to make a legacy to the College is encouraged to contact Abhi Pal, President of the College, or Simon Thornton-Wood, Chief Executive of the College, at [email protected] or Nairn Wilson, President Emeritus, at [email protected].

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Orthodontics in general dentistry – an unknown, unknown

Specialist orthodontist Professor Ross Hobson, discusses the complexity and importance of correct assessment and diagnosis of a patient before orthodontic treatment.

Why is Orthodontics important? And why is it important to correctly assess and diagnose the malocclusion before starting out on restorative or orthodontic treatment?

Firstly, it is important to understand that tooth movement occurs throughout life as a natural phenomenon. This mainly affects the lower arch resulting in a reducing arch length, collapse of the inter-canine width and crowding of the anteriors. This is a combination of mesial drift (the process that is thought to allow for interproximal wear occurring due to an abrasive stone age diet), facial growth occurring throughout life and soft tissue age changes (reduction in muscle tone and flexibility). The combined effect on the dentition is similar to blocking the end of a travellator, in that the forward moving teeth crowd up against the ‘barrier’ of the lips.

This crowding results in reducing the ‘Envelope of Function’, a concept first described by Pete Dawson, and ‘Pathway Wear’, described by Greggory Kinzer. The combination of continued tooth movement, the dynamics of the Envelope of Function and Pathway Wear, means that a patient’s anterior tooth position changes with time but the patient’s pattern of function or parafunctional movements do not. 

The lower teeth moving forward at a greater rate than the uppers is a natural phenomenon and the result of this constricts the Envelope of Function resulting in the wear of upper and lower incisal edges. This can lead to chipping of the incisal edges and continued wear occurring.

Too commonly there is failure to correctly diagnose the underlying orthodontic problem. The uppers are restored but the undiagnosed occlusal forces result in failure of the composite. Then porcelain is used and the lower anteriors begin a destructive cycle of incisal wear, with significant loss of lower incisor crown height and overeruption of the lower incisors. Eventually, becoming an extremely difficult problem to correct.

Then there are skeletal and dental malocclusions that can further complicate restorative care eg increased overbites due to skeletal growth, anterior open bites and significant anterior-posterior and transverse malocclusions. Some may be accepted and ‘ignored’ but many will influence the outcome and success of care, dooming some to predictable failure.

In orthodontics there are many ways of achieving a good treatment outcome, fixed, lingual and aligners all can do ‘The job’. However, in some circumstances one appliance type may be better suited to achieving the desired outcome. So, it is important to know the advantages and limitations of the different types of appliances. BUT you must be aware that there is no such thing as a ‘magic’ brace that moves teeth faster or can avoid some implications of orthodontic treatment eg need for extractions.  What is essential is understanding the treatment options available to the individual patient and the advantages and disadvantages of the treatment options – including no treatment.

Understanding orthodontics, the identification and cause of malocclusion and knowledge of how it can be corrected or managed as part of general dental care is essential for all dental practitioners.   Some may be encouraged to go on to learn basic orthodontic techniques to achieve small changes that can be life changing for practitioners and their patients, and others will wish to further develop their orthodontic skills to much higher levels.  This is the basis of the College’s postgraduate training and qualification in primary care orthodontics – to build on current knowledge and skills, with progressive development with skilled mentoring.

Whatever level of skill you wish to attain, it is all based around a sound knowledge of assessment and diagnosis, without identifying a problem, it is an unknown, unknown….

Professor Ross Hobson Leads the College’s Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Care Orthodontics and is hosting a three-part CGDent webinar series exploring the possibilities and limitations of orthodontic treatment with fixed braces. The live webinars are free to view for all dental professionals and College members have free access to the recordings and CPD.

The next intake on the CGDent Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Care Orthodontics will start in April 2023.

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What’s in a name? The importance of professional depiction

In support of National Dental Nurses Day on 22 November 2022, Dr Debbie Reed FCGDent explains why Dental Nurses should claim and gain recognition through the professional depiction of their important role in the dental team.

For the past 10 years or more I have been writing about the importance of professional depiction and professional identity1-5.

Over the past few months there has been much reporting of dental ‘deserts’6-9. Earlier in the Autumn, the then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, declared that the solution to ‘dental deserts’ was to ensure all members of the dental team, not just dentists, “are using their qualifications to their full extent by undertaking particular procedures“10.  However, recent studies, have highlighted that dental nurses, part of the group being relied on to ‘use their qualifications’, are reported to be leaving the dental sector, due in part to dissatisfaction with their role, a consequence, according to a number of those leaving, to the lack of recognition and a general lack of value afforded to dental nurses for the contribution they make to patient oral health11.

So now, more than ever, it seems opportune to bring the matter of professional depiction and identity to the fore once again, as a means through which dental nurses can claim and gain recognition. Critical to achieving recognition is giving consideration to how dental nurses refer to themselves and the importance of slipping into the habit of reducing their professional title to that of ‘nurse’. 

There are four key reasons for ensuring the professional name of ‘Dental Nurse’ is routinely used, and as dental nurses, why we should take the lead in using our correct professional title, as well as encouraging others to follow our example.

Firstly, and most obviously, it is illegal for any Dental Nurse to style themselves as a ‘nurse’ because nursing is a separate and distinct occupation. It should be borne in mind that the term ‘nurse’ is a protected title for a specific role regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Secondly, by failing to use the full and proper title Dental Nurse, which was granted through legislation12 and protected through regulation by the General Dental Council13, dental nurses are missing an opportunity to ensure that patients and the public at large are reminded of dental nursing as an occupation. Also, missing an opportunity to encourage the public to:

  1. recognise the occupation of Dental Nurse, and
  2. start to acquire an understanding of the distinct role that dental nurses play in oral health and dental treatment.

Thirdly, it is important that we as dental nurses ensure that our colleagues working within the dental sector also use the correct title, Dental Nurse, rather than conflating the professional role, in doing so in turn they will routinely acknowledge the Dental Nurse role, and the valuable work being carried out by the dental nurses working with them in the dental team.  It also provides other dental colleagues an opportunity to demonstrate an understanding that the Dental Nurse, who, like them, is a regulated professional, and like them, deserves to be recognised by their professional title. In order to retain the best people in dental nursing, and to provide the quality of support that the other dental clinicians deserve, there needs to be recognition and respect, demonstrated by the use of the correct professional title, for the valuable contribution that dental nurses make to patient oral health.

Finally, recruitment of other dental nurses. By using the protected and regulated occupational title ‘Dental Nurse’, the occupation will be recognised by patients and others, and potentially by those leaving school and seeking to understand the range of dental and healthcare related occupations that might be potentially available to them as career choices. To enable Dental Nurse recruitment, it is necessary that potential recruits recognise that the fulfilling and rewarding career role of Dental Nurse exists and is potentially available to them.  The first step to raising awareness is for those potential recruits (and the public in general) to hear the name of the Dental Nurse occupation, as distinct from other healthcare roles.  This will be particularly important in the future if all those interested in healthcare careers are taught together to achieve T-Levels. Dental nursing, and other Dental Care Professions (DCPs), need to ensure that their occupations are known to these T-level students, that is if the dental occupations are to successfully compete and attract the most capable of those leaving school into the dental sector when they finish compulsory education.

So what is underpinning this?

As a Dental Nurse it is interesting to reflect on the General Dental Council (GDC) Standards For The Dental Team (2013) 2.3.1 which states that:

 “You should introduce yourself to patients and explain your role so that they know how you will be involved in their care.”13

The way in which this GDC standard is observed and the necessary information presented provides an opportunity for dental nurses to ensure that they and their role is known, and that they are depicted professionally, and a message is conveyed in that depiction about the status, professional agency and esteem of their dental care professional occupation.

In the past, other health care professionals have found it useful to present themselves, as well as their role in the treatment of patients, by depicting their knowledge using language which elevates their position to that of professional colleague.

This simple action has been crucial in the negotiation of professional status within society. As dental nurses we understand that by developing an audible professional voice, like other health care professional groups, dental nurses are able to help society to construct an understanding of the importance of what we do; our professional identity, and why what dental nurses do is so valuable.

Who am I?  What do I do?

So… if someone asks about what you do as a Dental Nurse, what do you tell them?

Being able to describe or depict the knowledge that is necessary in respect to a routine action is critical.   Often tasks are so routine to us as dental nurses that we do not take time to consider their importance or significance, or the skills involved in carrying them out, never mind trying to articulate that information in a clear and positive way.

If we could consider for one minute a “routine act” carried out by most dental nurses – the act of receiving the patient in the waiting room and escorting them to the surgery for treatment. 

This act involves a number of specific and significant elements, such as asking the patient to consider their medical history.  This task requires the Dental Nurse to have considerable professional knowledge and understanding related to the questions posed, the underpinning conditions being explored, the implications to the treatment if particular answers are given by the patient and the ability to respond to a particular query or uncertainty the patient might have related to the question being asked. 

In addition, in carrying out the “simple” task of meeting and receiving the patient, the Dental Nurse requires considerable knowledge and understanding related to patient anxiety, how that might be exhibited by the patient, along with the professional skill and ability to support the patient to deal with that anxiety sufficient to proceed to the surgery.  During the process of receiving the patient the Dental Nurse is monitoring the patient for other signs related to more general aspects of health and well-being which may be being communicated and providing insight into the potential impact on any treatment to be undertaken. 

The previous described are vital tasks which require professional skill and considerable knowledge and understanding. Remember, just because you make it look easy – it does not mean that the tasks are not complexed, and moreover achieving excellence in Dental Nurse practice requires a significant depth and ability to think critically. 

Accurate professional depiction

Professional depiction requires professional confidence and there might be a number of reasons why this is inhibited, why as dental nurses we might be cautious or reticent about choosing to professionally depict ourselves.  However, accurate professional depiction is not about self-aggrandisement but about appropriate recognition and acknowledgement of the contribution that we make. Few dental nurses or dental professionals work for purely altruistic reasons, most choose their professions with the intention of building a professional career through participating in a fulfilling and meaningful occupation, which is recognised, respected, valued and rewarded. If dental nurses are neither recognised nor valued then the dental work force is likely to be depleted of the brightest and most capable individuals, who will seek professional fulfilment and meaningful work elsewhere.

Conveying and depicting Dental Nurse practice cannot be achieved effectively without reference to the research and theoretical concepts, which underpin it.  Thus, routine Dental Nurse work is now starting to evolve towards evidence-based Dental Nurse practice.  No longer is it sufficient for dental nurses to defer to a colleague’s direction and decision without understanding the theoretical and evidence base for that decision14.

The future…

Despite the current challenges, dental nurses have much to look forward to, from the outcome of Advancing Dental Care, and the related Dental Education Reform Programme (DERP)15, to the newly launched CGDent route through which dental nurses can gain recognition for their advanced levels of practice.

Most notably, the complex nuance of dental nursing has been skilfully captured within the recently published Dental Nurse Career Pathway16.

CGDent has been forward-thinking and responsive, producing a framework through which dental nurses can gain recognition and parity of esteem for their significant achievements commensurate to the level of expertise and standing within the dental community, across the various stages of their career. 

To those dental nurses seeking to be valued for what they do and what they contribute, visit CGDent17 to find out more about the Faculty of Dental Nursing and Orthodontic Therapy and how you can start your journey to gain professional acknowledgment, and be part of a Dental Nurse community.  After all dental nursing is a profession that is looking to the future, and the CGDent Dental Nurse Career Pathway is a perfect vehicle to get us there. 

Bibliography used in the compilation of this blog:

1.            Reed, D. (2018) ‘What Is Professional Voice?’, British Dental Nurse Journal, Spring: Edition 2.

2.            Reed, D. (2014) ‘The Stories we tell about ourselves can change the Professional Image of Dental Nursing’, Dental Nursing, Dec.

3.            Reed, D. (2011) ‘Novice to Expert’, Vital, Spring.

4.            Reed, D. (2010) ‘Professional Depiction’, Vital, June.

5.            Reed, D. (2009) ‘Speak up DCPs: Professional Voice’, Vital, 7, pp.24-27

6.            Sutton, N. (2022) NHS “dental deserts” persist in rural and deprived communities – LGA analysis. Online: available at https://www.local.gov.uk/about/news/nhs-dental-deserts-persist-rural-and-deprived-communities-lga-analysis

7.            The Dentist (2022) England’s ‘dental deserts’ and the urgent need to level up access to dentistry. Online available at https://www.the-dentist.co.uk/content/news/england-s-dental-deserts-and-the-urgent-need-to-level-up-access-to-dentistry

8.            The Week (2022) The crisis in dentistry: why has finding an NHS dentist become so difficult? Online available at https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/uk-news/958125/the-crisis-in-dentistry-explained 

9.            Public Policy Exchange (2022) Eliminating Dental Deserts: Ensuring Access to an NHS Dentist Across the UK. Online 27th October 2022.   Available via https://www.publicpolicyexchange.co.uk

10.          Hansard (2022) Health and Social Care Update – 22nd September 2022. https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2022-09-22/debates/1D1D386B-0440-4DE7-A810-D13A968EC920/HealthAndSocialCareUpdate?highlight=dental%20deserts#contribution-1756705C-4F88-49D0-9EC6-EB69D5C9528F

11.          Morley, C. (2022). Dental Nurse Recruitment and Retention:  Health Education England Northwest. Unpublished

12.          Dentists Act (1984) Section 36c.  Available online: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1984/24/2006-07-28?wrap=true&view=extent

13.          General Dental Council (2013) Standards For The Dental Team. GDC: London. Available online https://standards.gdc-uk.org/Assets/pdf/Standards%20for%20the%20Dental%20Team.pdf

14.          Government of Health and Social Care, the Welsh Government, the Department of Health Northern Ireland, Public Health England, NHS England and NHS Improvement and with the support of the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry (2021) Delivering Better Oral Health; An Evidence-Based Toolkit For Prevention. 4th Edition. Available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/delivering-better-oral-health-an-evidence-based-toolkit-for-prevention#full-publication-update-history

15.          Health Education England National Health Service United Kingdom (2021) Advancing Dental Care Review: Final Report  https://www.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/advancing-dental-care

16.          College of General Dentistry (2021) Career Pathway For Dental Nurses. Available online at https://cgdent.uk/career-pathways/

17.          College of General Dentistry (2022) Our Memberships. Available online at https://cgdent.uk/membership-eligibility-2/

Dr Debbie Reed FCGDent, is a Dental Nurse and Associate Professor and Director of Advanced and Specialist Healthcare at University of Kent. She is Chair of the College’s Career Pathways Dental Nursing and Orthodontic Therapy Group and Vice Chair of CGDent’s Faculty of Dental Nursing and Orthodontic Therapy.

How do we create a positive patient safety culture?

In his recent CPD seminar, delivered for the College at Dentistry Show London, Jason Wong MBE FCGDent, Deputy Chief Dental Officer for England, discussed contemporary concepts relating to patient safety, and in this blog, examines recent developments.

For some years I have spoken about the culture of fear and anxiety that has gripped the dental profession in the United Kingdom and how it has wide ranging impacts including its effect on the culture in clinical practice, limiting access to care and wellbeing of the dental workforce.

In a nutshell, what I was asked to speak about by the College of general Dentistry at the recent Dentistry show London, is how we, the dental profession, are attempting to initiate steps to move away from the current blame and fear culture to a fair and learning culture, and how this will improve patient safety.

I have always had an interest in this area, and from my time as a Local Dental Network Chair in the Midlands, and with my Leadership fellow Dr Priya Chohan and Oral Surgeons Professor Tara Renton and Dr Edmund Bailey, published an article in the British Dental Journal which concluded that there is a lack of knowledge concerning Patient Safety Incident reporting and a culture of fear affecting the profession.

Coincidentally, one of the first things I was asked to work on when I was appointed as Deputy Chief Dental Officer for England was whether wrong tooth extraction should still be classed as a Never Event by the NHS.

On 17 June 2021, I brought together key stakeholders from across dentistry to discuss the significant potential for patient safety improvement. The group’s discussions concluded with a commitment to work together in collaboration with the profession, to better embed a culture of fairness, openness and learning with regards to patient safety in dental settings.  

At the core, we knew that we needed to address the issue of what to record and what to report. We have looked at the available literature and have concluded that barriers to recording and reporting patient safety issues in dentistry is not just an England problem or even a UK problem, but a worldwide one.

At the same time, we welcomed the introduction of the Learn from patient safety events (LFPSE) service, which will support patient safety improvement across all dental care settings. We are encouraging recording of Patient Safety Events but there is still some work to align the system so that it is more user-friendly for dental practices.

Using LFPSE to record and share details of Patient Safety Events means that we could be participating in a profession-wide effort to support national safety improvement work. We recognise that most dental care is delivered in safe settings by caring practitioners, and that the profession has a safety record of which it can be proud.

However, there is always more to be done to ensure that we are delivering the best possible care for patients. Whilst event reporting is a vital tool for information gathering, patient safety engagement, and shared learning, further work is needed to facilitate a just culture for patient safety in dental settings.

Maintaining consistent, constructive, and fair evaluation of Patient Safety Events will facilitate a supportive and safe learning environment for all colleagues. Consistent evaluation will also aid local safety improvements, while assisting continuing professional development and encouraging personal reflection.  

It has been a major advantage to align our work with the rest of primary care and the NHS Patient Safety Strategy, so that dentistry does not work in a silo.  We therefore have NHS officials attend our meetings and we attend their strategy meetings, and the work that our group has carried out has been well received by the NHS.

However, defensive dentistry is rife, a lack of clarity about what is best and acceptable practice means that there is significant cognitive dissonance alongside the anxiety and fear.

What is patient safety?

Patient safety is the avoidance of unintended or unexpected harm to people during the provision of health care. We support providers to minimise patient safety incidents and drive improvements in safety and quality. Patients should be treated in a safe environment and protected from avoidable harm.

In the CGDent/Dentistry Show London presentation, I examined the principles contained in official publications, several well-known books as well as the patient safety syllabus from HEE’s e-Learning for Healthcare (e-LfH) programme.

Project Sphere

Regional HEE Clinical Leadership Fellow and Dental Therapist, Jyoti Sumel, also presented at the Dentistry Show London this year. Jyoti leads Project Sphere, a project aimed at improving patient safety recording. The Project Sphere working group wants to initiate a culture change, a change that will see dental care move from a perceived blame culture to a learning culture.

They are encouraging the entire dental team to get involved: the safety of patients requires a team approach and is the responsibility of every individual. Project Sphere currently has wide ranging aims to improve systems for learning, recording and workforce support.

The Project Sphere group is fortunate to have both support for their work from both regulators and indemnity. With their support there is a real opportunity to affect the change they want to make.

Clinical leadership

Recent studies of organisational culture and patient safety emphasise the role of senior leadership. Senior leaders can support learning and communicate the importance of safety over other organisational goals. Effective leaders show active engagement with patients and staff and this has a bearing on safer patient care.

Dentists, dental nurses, and dental care professionals can all play an important part as clinical leaders. Clinical leaders make sense of patient safety problems, mobilise resources and put solutions in place. They also create a just culture which encourages colleagues to speak up when things go wrong, rather than fearing blame.

So how do you start to cultivate these principles in your practice?

Here are my top ten tips:


  • Be genuine and build a vision for the whole practice
  • Be a genuine learning practice
  • Create a safe working environment
  • Build relationships – show genuine concern for interests of co-workers and patients
  • Lead by example

Communication culture

  • Optimal communications – try using freely available digital platforms to improve communication
  • Help to make traditions
  • Celebrate wins
  • Clear job description & expectations – identify strengths

System culture

  • Continue to develop comprehensive systems tailored to your setting

Have fun if possible but do build a system that everyone can work to.

Project Sphere – the future

Project Sphere will continue its work this coming year and will continue to socialise the concepts that I have been discussing in this blog. The College of General Dentistry has kindly agreed to publish some guidance for the workstream, the first of which involves lone working and the circumstances that surround it in dental settings. The Project Sphere group are working with the indemnity providers on a consensus statement to reassure clinicians, as well as guiding them to the best place to obtain advice. Hopefully the early positive signs from the impact of their work will continue to develop. As for culture change, that will take some time but the journey has to start somewhere and we hope that this will be the start of many positive changes in dentistry.

Free webinar for all dental professionals

Dental professionals are invited to join a free webinar to learn more about creating a positive patient safety culture, with Jason Wong. The webinar, Creating a positive patient safety culture in dentistry, takes place at 7pm on Tuesday 10 January 2023.

The webinar, hosted by the College and available through ProDental CPD, is free to view live for all dental professionals, but prior registration is required. College members will have free access to the recording afterwards. 

Shaping Faculties for the whole dental team

It has long been a vision for the College to form distinct Faculties for the different professions within the dental team. Faculty Chairs, Louise Belfield, Bill Sharpling and John Stanfield, update us on the progress they have made so far.

Louise Belfield, Chair of the Faculty of Dental Nursing & Orthodontic Therapy

I am delighted to announce the formation of the inaugural board for the Faculty of Dental Nursing and Orthodontic Therapy.  Combined, Dental Nurses plus Orthodontic Therapists make up around 50% of the dental workforce, and it is our privilege to represent our registrant communities at the College of General Dentistry.

Our Board brings together a wealth of knowledge and expertise, along with a broad range of experience in general dental practice and beyond, including practice management, NHS and private practice, civilian and military, workforce, postgraduate education, academia, and research, as well as representation from the United Kingdom nations.

Our Board members are:

  • Louise Belfield (Chair and member of the College Council)
  • Debbie Reed (Vice-Chair)
  • Jane Dalgarno
  • Angie Heilmann
  • Amanda Knight
  • Kathryn Marshall
  • Sharon Morrow

All of our Board members are passionate volunteers, dedicated to the advancement of career opportunities, recognition of achievement, and parity of esteem for our Dental Nurses and Orthodontic Therapists.

Developing our new Faculty board presents some unique challenges, and with those come unique opportunities. Perhaps more than other registrant categories, Dental Nurse training is varied and diverse; there are multiple qualifications that can lead to GDC registration, and they are typically delivered outside of Higher Education Institutions, which can funnel graduates into well-established career pipelines. Combined with the lack of an obvious direction for career development once qualified, these factors can make the waters of career advancement rather muddy. Therefore, a key objective for our inaugural Faculty board is to implement the newly developed Career Pathways framework, led by our Vice-Chair Debbie Reed.

We have also prioritised development of the Faculty membership pathways for Dental Nurses and Orthodontic Therapists. Our newly developing Faculty membership criteria uphold the highest clinical standards and are relevant and accessible to our community of professionals. It is also important to note that for the first time, all levels of membership and fellowship of the College are open to all dental professionals, and we encourage our eligible members to consider application. Our Career Pathways framework can support our members to meet the different levels of Faculty and College criteria.

However, our Faculty is only as strong as its membership. It is imperative that we work together with our members at all stages of their careers, including trainees and newly qualified members, to develop the Faculty in a direction that serves our community. We are determined that both registrant categories within the Faculty have equivalent voice, and as such we are especially keen to engage with our community of Orthodontic Therapists.  We know that amongst our Dental Nurses and Orthodontic Therapists there are many experienced, talented, highly achieving professionals who have made significant impact on patient and public health, and the dental profession. Our ultimate aim as a board is to provide means to fully recognise those contributions, in parity with other registrant categories, and to provide support and guidance for our members to realise their career ambitions to their fullest potential.

Louise Belfield AssocFCGDent is a dental nurse, research scientist, lecturer, Health Education England Dental Clinical Fellow, and National Examination Board for Dental Nurses Trustee. Louise is a member of the College Council, the Professional Affairs Committee and the Membership Admissions Panel.

Bill Sharpling, Chair of the Faculty of Clinical Dental Technology & Dental Technology

It has been a pleasure to be involved in the College of General Dentistry since its very early days, after registering as a supporter in 2018. In 2020, I was invited to join the College Advisory Strategy Group and I built a team of Clinical Dental Technicians (CDTs) and Dental Technicians (DTs) who were keen to work together for the greater good of the College and the profession. I Chair the CDT and DT Working Group that has contributed to the development of the Career Pathway and Professional Framework and am a member of the College Council.

As soon as the opportunity arose to progress the creation of the four College Faculties, work began on assembling what would become the Board of our own Faculty, the Faculty of Clinical Dental Technology and Dental Technology (FCDTDT). It is worth noting that the actual final title of the Faculty is still under discussion by the Board and has not yet been finalised.

The Faculty Board members are:

  • Bill Sharpling (Chair and member of the College Council)
  • Steve Taylor (Vice Chair)
  • Mike Brindle
  • Lee Butler
  • Tony Laurie
  • Jiri Matl
  • Caroline Persaud
  • Emily Pittard
  • David Reay

The Board are a great bunch with a real mix of experience and huge amounts of enthusiasm to see real progression for our CDT and DT professions. Each member has shown such dedication to their role and have all taken on specific positions to enable progress. With such a small group it is not possible to replicate the structure and member roles of the full College Council but we have hopefully been able to cover most elements with this select group.

Each of the devolved nations has representation should it be needed. Mike, Jiri and Caroline have made themselves available to consider issues relating to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively. Tony and Steve are overseeing the faculty’s CPD activities and Emily is the Early Careers representative. Membership admissions will be managed by Lee and David with Caroline and Mike having the extra responsibility for Career Pathways activity.

The Board has met a couple of times and is scheduled to meet at least three times each year just ahead of Council meetings. Each meeting will have a principal theme. So far, the schedule has included CPD, membership levels and Career Pathway work. During the CPD meeting, Board members were joined by Robert Dyas from ProDental CPD and good progress was made regarding arranging a CPD programme for both DTs and CDTs.

DTs and CDTs are encouraged to join CGDent and once they have done so, will automatically also become a member of the Faculty. Members will be able to apply to join the Faculty at a certain level which is dependent on qualifications and/or experience. The level that one can join then determines the post nominals that a Faculty member is entitled to use. Members will also be able to join a Certified Membership Scheme which will enable them to be supported and mentored at the same time as progressing through the Career Pathway, mapped against certain criteria.

These are very early days for the Faculty, but with the continued support from the Board and the guidance and direction from the College, progress will continue to be made and the profession will see significant benefits for the long term.

Bill Sharpling FCGDent is Associate Dean (CPD) and Director of the London Dental Education Centre (LonDEC) at the Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences, King’s College London and Honorary Professor at RAK College of Dental Sciences, UAE. Bill is a member of the College Council and the Careers and Training Committee.

John Stanfield, Chair of the Faculty of Dental Hygiene & Dental Therapy

Throughout the formation of the College of General Dentistry, the creation of Faculties supporting each of the dental team groups, with membership levels that are attained by progression through the Career Pathway, has been a key vision.

The work that has been ongoing in a multi-threaded stream, has now allowed us to start to form the faculties.  To this end, we have appointed an inaugural board to the Faculty of Dental Hygiene & Dental Therapy which will guide the Faculty until we have enough members to have elections.

The Board members are:

  • John Stanfield (Chair and member of the College Council)
  • Frances Robinson (Vice Chair)
  • Sarah Hill
  • Laura McClune
  • Sarah Murray
  • Fiona Sandom
  • Miranda Steeples
  • Deborah Stratford
  • Kirstie Thwaites

The Board, as you can see, brings together a huge amount of experience and qualifications to lead us forward in this historic and bold move for the profession.  Our tasks, as we go forward, enthuse each of us, knowing this can only improve our standing both within the dental profession and that of the general public.

Our Faculty has to grow, we require members to become part of our community, to set and raise standards, and to have input into how the Faculty and the College are run.  We have our voice on the College Council, with full voting rights, this task has been appointed to me until we vote for a chair of the Faculty who will then join the Council. 

Previously I had been involved with FGDP, both as a member and vice-chair of the DCP committee and as the editor of ‘Team in Practice’.  However, we couldn’t be full Members, nor did we have any voting rights.  I took on this role to support the vision of a College that would represent the whole dental team with an opportunity for all to be full Members.  We all have the same chance to be admitted to the community as Members, Associate Fellows and Fellows of the Faculty and the College.  Many have already been admitted as Associate Fellows of the College and we have just had our first Faculty member admitted as a Fellow of the College – my congratulations go to Fiona Sandom.

Currently, the Board is working on adapting the Career Pathways in Dentistry Professional  Framework to meet the needs of our constituents, mapping this against the expected career stages.

The Faculty will be expected to contribute to College publications, standards and guidance, to any of the press releases which involve our members and to this end we will be bringing on board those of you with particular experience and expertise.  We are very aware of the increasing academic achievements of our constituents and the research they are carrying out and want to make the most of this.

Joining the faculty and the college brings with it certain benefits:                                              

  • Recognition of postgraduate training and experience, your pathway from Safe Practitioner to Accomplished Practitioner
  • CPD via ProDental CPD (over 1000 hours)
  • Primary Dental Journal
  • Certified Membership Scheme
  • Belonging to a community of like-minded professionals

John Stanfield AssocFCGDent has over 40 years’ experience as a dental hygienist, and works in private dental practice in Cheshire. He was Editor of the FGDP’s Team in Practice journal and Vice-Chair of its DCP Committee, and now serves on the College’s Membership Affairs Committee. John is also a member of the College Council.

Career pathways in general dental practice – filling the big void

In this article, originally published in the British Dental Journal, members of the College’s Career Pathways programme explore the need for defined career structures in the oral healthcare team and explain how CGDent’s Career Pathways aims to fill the big void. 

Those who carve out a career in primary dental care have been almost unique amongst healthcare professionals in not having defined career structures to support their professional development, notwithstanding the multitude of training opportunities open to them.

There are many causes for this: the high level of autonomy in general dental practice; the limited overall regulation of post-qualification training in primary dental care; and the limited support for both career enhancement and resulting reward from the NHS. Yet the vast majority of NHS dentistry takes place in general dental practice. Existing structured career pathways in dentistry have been successfully and comprehensively created under the auspices of the Faculty of Dental Surgery of each UK Royal College of Surgeons. However, these have been designed almost entirely for supporting dentists undergoing Specialist Training.

There has been a pressing need to create some form of structure that is fit for modern careers in general dental practice for the following reasons:

  • Providing recognition of professional development and training for all dental professionals working both in NHS and private practice, and salaried services;
  • Promoting job satisfaction and workforce retention;
  • Inspiring public confidence in the post-qualification professional development of dental professionals;
  • Complementing NHS workforce development plans;
  • Engaging the oral healthcare team holistically – not just individuals in isolation.

However, a delicate balance also needs to be struck between a structure for career development, minimising regulatory burden, and allowing for the flexibility and independence that have been an attraction for many in general dental practice.

The College of General Dentistry, the successor organisation of FGDP(UK) since July 2021, has been working for the last two years to create pathways for dental professionals which will allow for such a balance. Furthermore, since oral healthcare provision requires the involvement of the whole team, the pathways have been designed with all members of the team in mind.

Our starting point has been the definition of career “inflection points” for an individual’s professional journey. We have purposely not adopted terminology which might have currency today, but might well change as trends and policies evolve. In other words, we have gone back to first principles: what might we expect or wish a person to be able to do, as their skills evolve over a career?

Our next step has been to design a Professional Framework of capabilities that would be expected for each of those career stages. We convened Working Groups for each dental professional group: dental hygienists; dental therapists; dental nurses; dentists; dental technicians. Each group has drawn together these capabilities under five domains, which has resulted in a total of 22 skills. The five domains have been identified as:

  • Clinical and Technical
  • Professionalism
  • Reflection
  • Development
  • Agency

The result: our recently published College of General Dentistry Professional Framework. This publication lays out a blueprint, addressing a gaping void that has been present in primary care dentistry. Individuals are encouraged to use it in reflecting on their own progress, and organisations to adopt it in support of their teams, and their workforce planning and development.

Our own next step will be the introduction of our Certified Membership Scheme, soon to be rolled out. This will be the means by which an individual demonstrates they are practising with the capabilities defined for each career stage, and achieve recognition through College post-nominals. Unlike assessments of the past, this will not be based on examination. It will be a journey over two years along an individualised reflective personal development plan, where support from a Facilitator is provided. Gateway qualifications from a range of accredited providers will form part of this journey and our Scheme will enhance the value of these qualifications. The components of Certified Full Membership for dentists, demonstrating capabilities of an Experienced Practitioner, is illustrated below – allowing awarding of the post-nominal Cert MCGDent. This will typically, but not exclusively, appeal to those who have recently completed Foundation Training. Parallel pathways are being developed for each stage of the pathway and, most importantly, for all oral healthcare team members.

We think this is a fresh and unique approach to career progression, and we believe it is consistent with the needs and aspirations of the next generation of dental professionals. The time has now come for the profession to seriously consider the future of careers in primary care, and this College is mapping a bright future for the whole team.


  • Abhijit Pal, President – College of General Dentistry
  • Janet Clarke MBE, Chair of Trustees – College of General Dentistry
  • Roshni Karia, Chair of Certified Membership Scheme Working Group – College of General Dentistry
  • Avijit Banerjee, Chair of Careers Pathway Programme Board – College of General Dentistry
  • Shamir Mehta, Chair of Careers Pathway Reference Group – College of General Dentistry
  • Simon Thornton-wood, Chief Executive of the College of General Dentistry

The Version of Record of this article is published in the British Dental Journal, and is available online at https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-022-4907-1

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My journey to College Fellowship

In March 2022, the College launched its landmark new route to fellowship based on experience, and invited dental professionals to apply. We asked four members who recently gained Fellowship through the new “by experience” route, to tell us about their professional journey and how their experience led them to Fellowship.

Anoup Nandra FCGDent

Q. Can you tell us about yourself and your career?

A. I graduated from Birmingham Dental School in 2002 and completed my vocation training in London. I returned to Birmingham to become an associate in a mixed practice, Edgbaston Dental Centre, becoming a partner in 2006. Later in 2014, I set up Rock Dental, a private practice.

I’ve been fortunate to have amazing colleagues around me, and together we have pursued various forms of post graduate education. Over the years I’ve completed restorative training at the FDGP/RCS, along with implant training at the Eastman. I became involved in vocational training early in my career, and through this was encouraged to complete a certificate in medical education. Most recently, I have started an LLM in medical law. I guess I could be described as a bit of a dental geek!

I still have a huge passion for clinical wet fingered dentistry with my main interests being surgical dentistry and restorative dentistry. Over the years, I have learned about the management side of the business and how to adapt to the changing climate in dentistry.

Outside of dentistry, I can usually be found playing cricket somewhere, or watching my children play cricket!

Q. Why did you decide to apply for Fellowship of the College?

A. Very early on in my career, I embarked upon the FGDP career progression pathway with the ultimate aim of Fellowship being a personal ambition of mine.

Throughout university and my early career, I was mentored by amazing clinicians, many of which were Fellows, or had encouraged me to aim to achieve Fellowship in the future.

On multiple occasions I enrolled onto the FGDP fellowship programme, but for various reasons I simply did not have the time to begin. Life got in the way, and I had almost given up on having the time to complete my Fellowship.

When the College of General Dentistry was formed, naturally, being a huge supporter of the College, I transferred over my membership and joined the College. At this point, I was approached by one of my mentors who suggested that I look at the “by experience” route. I looked at the criteria, and realised that, over the years, I had gained quite a bit of the required experience, and now, I would meet almost all the criteria. Naturally, I jumped at the chance and the rest is history!

Q. Which three of the five fellowship domains does your professional experience meet?

A. Although meeting the requirement of only three domains out of the available five was required, I attempted to meet the criteria of all five.

For the Clinical Domain, I was able to use my MSc in Implant Dentistry along with evidence of having worked as a referral practitioner to meet the requirements.

I satisfied the criterial for the Teaching, Learning & Assessment Domain as I had completed a PG Certificate in Medical Education and could provide evidence of my role as an educational supervisor / trainer in the West Midlands Deanery for at least four years.

To meet the requirements of the Leadership & Management Domain, I used a reference from my practice accountant showing that I had been a principal for at least ten years, along with evidence of my practice meeting the BDA Good Practice Scheme over the last three years.

As evidence in the Publications & Research Domain, I used my Master’s research dissertation.

For the Law & Ethics Domain, I was able to demonstrate that I had completed the first two years of an LLM in legal aspects of medical practice (to certificate level) and was able to provide evidence of having completed at least 60 expert witness reports.

Q. What would you say to others who are considering applying for Fellowship through the experience route?

A. For all of you that meet the qualification criteria, the Fellowship is a great way of supporting your College and a way of recognising all the effort you have put into your career over the years!

To anyone considering applying for Fellowship through the experience route, I would say go for it! Give it a go, you will be amazed, as I was, how much relevant experience you will have gained over the years. The process of collating all the evidence itself is valuable – you will find that you have probably achieved so much more than you realise! The application route is fair and allows you to use a wide range of evidence to support your case. The College is also incredibly helpful in guiding you through the process and making sure that you are directing your efforts correctly.

I remain grateful for the guidance that I have been given over the years by my mentors, and by my peers. Although achieving the level of a Fellow was a personal goal, I think it also reflects the support I have received when following this structured career pathway over the last 20 years. I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone considering this route.

Wendy Thompson FCGDent

Q. Can you tell us about yourself and your career?

A. I have been a general dental practitioner based in Cumbria for ten years, but dentistry is actually my second career.

I started my working life as a Fast Stream Scientist at the Ministry of Defence, after graduating from the University of Warwick with a degree in microbiology. At MOD, I delivered policy and big projects, such as being project planner for the new aircraft carriers and establishing the missile defence centre (a government-industry partnership).

After my family and I decided to move back to Lancashire, I spent some time working for Lancashire County Council on partnerships and community engagement. During this period, I decided to do some serious soul searching about what I valued and wanted out of life.

That was when I decided to embark on a new career and go back to university. Luck was on my side because UCLAN is not far down the M6 from home and they had just set up a new BDS course with University of Liverpool. It’s now ten years since I graduated and I still love treating patients. But just treating patients five days a week was never going to completely fulfil me. As a foundation dentist, I undertook an audit about antimicrobial prescribing, which due to my background became something of a route map for dental antimicrobial stewardship. It wasn’t long before I became a member of the NICE antimicrobial stewardship guideline development. And then someone said ‘You should do a PhD!’. Ha! Me? A PhD??

Anyway, next stop was a PhD at University of Leeds with Prof Gail Douglas, supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) through a doctoral research fellowship (the first GDP to receive one). In hindsight, my PhD had the most ironic title – “Antibiotic prescribing towards a reduction during urgent dental care in England”. The pandemic hit just a few months after I graduated and antibiotic prescribing rose dramatically.

Throughout my PhD I continued to deliver clinical dentistry, as a GDP in Bradford, and feel that my academic work really benefitted from my clinical work (and vice versa). Following my PhD, I moved to University of Manchester as an NIHR clinical lecturer in primary dental care . The post is essentially 50% academic and 50% clinical dentistry (as a GDP in Kirkby Lonsdale). My first week coincided with the national COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020. What an interesting time to start a new job – especially when your research interest is antibiotic prescribing and urgent dental care!

Over the years, I’ve taken on various national and international roles, including the College’s lead on Antimicrobial Resistance, a member of the College’s research panel and a College Ambassador.

Q. Why did you decide to apply for Fellowship of the College?

A. Fellowship of the College has a kudos; it’s a mark that you have achieved a certain level of expertise and breadth in your career. College Fellowship is valued in academia and demonstrates I have a broad influence within the profession. I went for the Fellowship by experience route because I could see that I would meet the criteria needed to qualify and it would be a straightforward process.

Q. Which three of the five Fellowship domains does your professional experience meet?

A. I chose the Publications & Research Domain, the Teaching, Learning & Assessment Domain and the Leadership & Management Domain. I managed to achieve the gateway criteria in all three domains which meant I didn’t need to provide a full portfolio of evidence.

On taking up an academic post at the University of Manchester, the New Academics Programme (NAP) is provided which leads to Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). Having submitted my NAP portfolio in January, I was pleased when my FHEA was confirmed as I could use it as part-qualifying for the Teaching, Learning & Assessment domain. The other part was providing evidence that I have been a visiting lecturer on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses at UCLan since 2015.

For the Leadership & Management Domain, I was able to reference my international work, including as a Fellow of the International College of Dentists (ICD). In addition, I referenced my work with the FDI World Dental Federation; I am a member of its science committee and chair of its antibiotics working group and early career research network, as well as lead author of its white paper on the essential role of dental teams at tackling antibiotic resistance which I’ve  repurposed as an online course (free via the FutureLearn website).

The Publications & Research Domain was achieved through evidencing my PhD.

Q. What would you say to others who are considering applying for Fellowship through the experience route?

A. Do it! The journey to fellowship has been hard work and enormous fun. Working towards gaining Fellowship through the experience route is a great way to plan out your career progression as you work towards broadening your skills, becoming a more rounded dentist, and enabling you to have a lasting impact on the profession.

Peter Martin FCGDent

Q. Can you tell us about yourself and your career?

A. After growing up in Portsmouth I moved to Liverpool to study dentistry, graduating in 1986. I became a father as an undergraduate and went into practice as an associate in a high-needs part of north Liverpool where I stayed for five years working almost entirely in the highly pressured NHS.

After this grounding and helping a colleague setting up a practice, I became a practice owner, buying a single-handed practice in St Helens in 1992. I was invited to be a Clinical Assistant in Orthodontics and expanded the practice by becoming a Vocational Trainer in 1998. After much toil and sacrifice, including a partial Denplan conversion in 2000, the practice grew. A part-time salaried position in a Dental Access Centre for three years helped to pay the tax bill.

I continued in Vocational Training and then Foundation Training and became a postnominal collector. I achieved membership of the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK) in 2002 and MFDSRCS(Eng) the following year. In 2004-6, I was in Cohort 1 of the DipRestDent at MANDEC. Lots of CPD and tutoring later, I still work in St Helens with a five-surgery practice, have a grown-up daughter, and live with my partner, while spending my little free time walking, quizzing and living a simple life.

Q. Why did you decide to apply for Fellowship of the College?

A. As mentioned above, I like to collect letters after my name. I received an email from the newly formed CGDent with details of the fellowship by experience path (having already been awarded AssocFCGDent because of my Postgrad Diploma), realised that I could tick the relevant boxes and applied. It is a nice feeling to be told that I am officially a senior member of the profession, despite still having a degree of imposter syndrome after more than 35 years in practice.

Many of my closest friends at Dental School had sat FDSRCS (the main means to have a career path prior to the FGDP) and developed specialist hospital careers before “specialties” existed. A feeling of inferiority was natural – it was implied that GDPs were lesser beings by our hospital-based undergraduate teachers – but it was also motivational.

 I have experienced many changes in dental practice – the expectations in 1986 were a job as an NHS dentist, possibly practice ownership, until retirement. Now we have huge opportunities to acquire skills and training and to enjoy fulfilling careers – the letters after our names massage egos, but the real joy is in knowing we have progressed in ways earlier generations couldn’t.

Q. Which three of the five fellowship domains does your professional experience meet?

A. The Domains I chose were Clinical; Teaching, Learning & Assessment; and Leadership & Management.

Having a large appetite for CPD meant I could demonstrate externally-verified clinical skills via the DipRestDentRCS(Eng).

To demonstrate my commitment to education I showed that I was awarded a PGCert in Teaching & Learning in Clinical Practice in 2017 and was Postgraduate Tutor in the Mersey Deanery/HEENW for 11 years. I was a Vocational Trainer/ FD Educational Supervisor for 20 graduates and a letter from Anne, one of my former Training Programme Directors was needed to verify this. I am also a member of the Faculty of Dental Trainers RCS(Ed).

Having been a practice owner since 1992, served on an LDC and experienced new contracts imposed by the NHS, the invention of the CQC, changes to employment law, the rise of the corporates and imposition of clinical governance, I had some experience of leadership and management in dental practice. This was accepted as satisfying the Leadership & Management Domain requirements. I also had membership of the BDA Good Practice Scheme and obtained a Postgraduate Certificate in Dental Health Service Leadership & Management from the FGDP(UK) in 2010.

Q. What would you say to others who are considering applying for fellowship through the experience route?

A. The application process was straightforward and open, not like my experience of the assessment for Fellowship of the FGDP(UK). The criteria are clear and I believe, highly suitable for the purpose of demonstrating the range of skills and experience expected of “senior” practitioners. I would advise anyone with a suitable career history to apply and for those at an earlier stage to use the domains as a guide to career development.

Kaushik Paul FCGDent

Q. Can you tell us about yourself and your career?

A. I am a General Dental Practitioner in the Midland and London areas and the Clinical Director for MyDentist for the North West and Central regions, covering 150 practices.

Previously to this, I was an associate dentist at High Street Dental Practice for the past 11 years and have been a Foundation Dentist Trainer in general practice. I was also a Tier 2 Oral surgery Provider involving sedation in various practices within the Midlands region. I work part time at the Birmingham Dental Hospital as Speciality Dentist in Oral Surgery and as Clinical Lecturer in Oral Surgery at the School of Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham.

In these clinical roles, I am actively involved in the delivery of General Dental Services along with Minor Oral Surgery services.

I completed my BDS in India and then undertook the IQE examination in 2005 to register to work in the UK. Following this, I completed a Diploma in Conscious Sedation from Newcastle University and my MFDS and MJDF from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and Royal College of Surgeons of England respectively. I gained the Certificate in Dental Practice Appraisal and Certificate in Minor Oral Surgery from the FGDP, along with a MSc in Oral Surgery from UCLAN.

I also hold a Post Graduate certificate in Dental Practice Appraisal and Leadership and Management. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy having undertaken a PG Certificate in Education.

I have a great passion for teaching and am actively involved in teaching, assessments, career planning and supporting undergraduate teaching and recruitment within Dental school and in Dental Foundation training and have taught on the MSc programmes at Warwick University. I’ve also tutored for the MJDF and am now on the Advisory Board for the MFDS examination with the RCSEd. I am currently involved in shaping the delivery of local dental services in the Staffordshire and Shropshire area as a member of the local LPN.

 I have been closely involved in mentoring and have worked as a Clinical Practice Advisor for 18 practices and as the CPD tutor within the Rodericks Group. Further, I have worked closely with the deanery to support colleagues through design and delivery of individualised mentoring pathways for clinicians with varied needs.

Outside of work, I relish food, traveling and shopping. I support a number of charities and am passionate about equality of opportunity for all.

Q. Why did you decide to apply for Fellowship of the College?

A. The fellowship of a college usually signifies a recognition of years of work and dedication to one’s professional career and also to the wider profession. Having been associated with the College from its inception and indeed from the times when it was FGDP, it was but natural that I seek to be a member and when the opportunity arose, aspire to be a fellow of the College. The “by experience” route allowed me to showcase years of work and use it to gain the fellowship.

Q. Which three of the five fellowship domains does your professional experience meet?

A. I applied for the fellowship under the Clinical; Teaching, Learning & Assessment; and Leadership & Management Domains. In the Clinical Domain, I was able to meet the gateway criteria based on achieving a Masters in Oral Surgery, along with other qualifications. Similarly, my teaching experience allowed me to meet the gateway criteria for the Teaching, Learning & Assessment Domain. My work as a clinical director and as a clinical advisor within corporate dentistry meant that I met the gateway criteria for the Leadership & Management Domain.

Q. What would you say to others who are considering applying for Fellowship through the experience route?

A. I think it is a fantastic opportunity for practitioners who have diverse and enhanced careers in general dental practice, to be recognised for it through the fellowship by experience pathway. Additionally, gaining fellowship associates them to a College that is progressive, inclusive and recognises all members of the dental profession. As a young College that is seeking to enhance and widen its membership and scope, this is the time for members of the GDP community to contribute through their experience and skills and make a difference in the dental landscape.

Congratulations to new Fellows Anoup Nandra, Wendy Thompson, Peter Martin and Kaushik Paul, and to all those who have been awarded Fellowship of the College of General Dentistry.

Dental professionals can apply for admission to Fellowship of the College – the mark of accomplishment in dentistry – by two routes: Fellowship by Experience and Fellowship by Equivalence.

To apply for Fellowship by the Fellowship by Experience route, you will need to submit a CV and detailed evidence showing how you meet the eligibility criteria for three of the five fellowship domains. The domains are: Clinical; Teaching, learning & assessment; Leadership & management; Publications & research; Law & ethics. We have “Gateway” criteria which require less evidence and will be processed more quickly, if you meet all these requirements.

Full details about routes to Fellowship and how to apply are available here.

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What have we achieved one year on?

As we approach the College’s first-year anniversary, CGDent President Dr Abhi Pal looks back at all that we have achieved and considers our exciting plans for the future.

On 1st July 2022 the College of General Dentistry (CGDent) will mark its first full year of operation since its formal launch, and I mark the conclusion of my first year as President. The transition from the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCSEng) was five years in the planning and brought with it the hopes and aspirations for a whole profession. The transition period posed a number of challenges and I commend the hard work of the College staff and give thanks to the support of the College Council, our Trustee Board and our many members for helping to achieve a successful first year.

The first task for the College was the transfer of staff and the membership from the RCS, and automatic recognition of Faculty of General Dental Practice UK (FGDP) membership, fellowship and all FGDP qualifications for the purposes of our own College membership and fellowship. I am pleased to say we have achieved this successfully, despite significant technological challenges.

In line with our inclusive approach to membership, the College now welcomes all members of the dental team with relevant postgraduate qualifications as members. The category of Associate Fellow has been created, designed to be a stepping-stone to Fellowship. We have also launched our criteria for Fellowship by Experience, designed to give recognition to individuals with experience who have demonstrated achievement in a wide range of areas. Membership has also been opened up to non-registrants with relevant qualifications, such as dental academics.

Membership of the College speaks to the professional development of individuals through post-nominals: Full Members (MCGDent), Associate Fellows (AssocFCGDent), and Fellows (FCGDent). In addition, we have expanded our package of membership benefits for all members. These include a discount arrangement with the UK’s largest indemnity provider, Dental Protection, which recognises the high level of commitment to professional development of College members and fellows. College membership also gives access to the wide range of online educational content provided by ProDental CPD. Indeed, the College has now hosted 20 live webinars so far on everything from leadership and professionalism to managing traumatic dental injuries, and from sustainable dentistry to how to get the best from your career. They’re all available for members to view free of charge via ProDental, which will also issue you with an electronic CPD certificate and keep a record of your learning.

The College continues to be the publisher of authoritative guidance and standards documents, originally published by the FGDP(UK), covering areas such as Clinical Examination and Record-keeping, Dental Radiography, Standards in Dentistry, Research in Primary Dental Care, and Training in Implant Dentistry. The College continues to publish Implications of COVID-19 for the safe management of general dental practice, which was developed with the FGDP, and has just released its first sole-published guideline, Mentoring in Implant Dentistry, which was developed with the Association of Dental Implantology and has been endorsed by the British Association of Oral Surgeons, Association of British Academic Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the UK and Ireland Section of the International Team for Implantology.

We continue to deliver high quality postgraduate training through our Postgraduate Diploma in Restorative and Aesthetic Dentistry, Postgraduate Certificate in Non-Surgical Facial Aesthetics and our recently launched Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Care Orthodontics which is delivered through IAS Academy.

The College has secured representation on over 25 committees and working groups across the UK developing national dental and oral health policy. Our College Council is now formed of 25 members from across the UK, as well as internationally. Most importantly we have representation on Council from not only dentists, but also dental nursing, dental hygiene, dental therapy, and dental technology.

The national makeup of the College is reflected in the work that is carried on by our regional groups. We have had very successful Study Days in Birmingham, Glasgow and Gateshead during our first year. The College Council will no longer meet exclusively in London but also in other UK cities from time to time, in order for the Council to engage with our local members.

At the British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show in May, I was delighted to meet many members and prospective members of the College. The plans for our Career Pathway was met with great enthusiasm and we also obtained some very useful feedback. The College also provided Core CPD seminars from some of our notable speakers.

Over the past few months I have been invited to speak to groups of final year undergraduates from various UK dental schools about Transition to Practice. It was a wonderful opportunity to engage with our colleagues who will be the future of the profession to discuss career planning and the College’s role.

Earlier this month, we held the College’s first Fellows’ Reception at Barber-Surgeons’ Hall in London where we unveiled our Professional Framework which will underpin the College’s Career Pathways.

Proud as I am of everything we’ve achieved so far, we can look forward with even more enthusiasm and anticipation to the next 12 months, during which many other projects and initiatives will come to fruition. These include the launch of the College’s Career Pathways and Certified Membership Scheme, designed to provide a long-needed pathway for professional development in primary dental care for all members of the dental team. We will be launching Phase One of the scheme in the autumn of 2022.

Publication of the second edition of our guidance on research for primary dental care professionals, and of our new Standards for Dental Photography, is anticipated in the forthcoming year. PDJ issues on oral surgery, digital dentistry, aesthetic dentistry, and dental trauma will be published. Upcoming live webinars include social inequalities and dental school applications, periodontal-systemic links, LGBTQ+ inclusion in dentistry, and many more.

Finally, I hope you will be able to join in some of our planned conferences over the next year. These include CGDent Study Days in Birmingham on 1 July and Glasgow on 2 December, 2022. We also have the first CGDent—Quintessence Publishing International Conference in London on 24–25 March, 2023.

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Two dentists, one award and 6,000 subscribers

Award-winning early-career dentist, Pouya Zohrabpour, features in the College’s new film and tells us about the innovative educational work he has been doing to support dental students and young dentists.

I remember the day I was studying with my friends for our final exams of dental school and we received an email saying that all our in-person exams have been cancelled because of the Covid-19 lockdown. This was right at the start of Covid. Being one of the Covid year graduates was a very odd experience and I never thought the start of my career would pan out the way it has. I am now a first-year associate dentist and have been lucky enough to start and work on many additional projects related to my dental work.

With my friend Dr Ali Gowie, I run a dental YouTube channel and Instagram account called Two Dentists. This was something we started during the lockdown as we both got bored of watching long one-hour webinars and wanted to create highly educational videos which were professional, concise and easy to understand. So much of dentistry can be complicated but we felt that if we did enough research, we could script videos and break down difficult concepts into bite-sized videos for young dentists and dental students.

Our first few videos, which have been some of the most popular on our channel, focused on the new patient examination. We have made videos on seeing your first patient as a dental student, best way to take a dental history, dental examination, essential diagnoses, radiology and treatment planning.

We have since expanded and released a variety of other videos such as our series on dental photography and Loupes, which have been very popular. After launching and committing to releasing one video every week, which we maintained for a full year, we have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback received from everyone. My proudest moment of our YouTube journey was when a friend of mine sent a photo of a lecturer at the University of Bristol (where I graduated) showing my radiology video to a group of final year students.

The Youtube channel has allowed us to collaborate with many dentists and be in a continual state of learning. We have been lucky to be able to collaborate with Dr Shivam Divani who is the creator of the My Dental Care App. The app aims to educate the general public on the importance of good oral hygiene and to show you how to protect your teeth and prevent dental issues. With Dr Divani we created a six-part video series which accompanies the text and images in the app. These videos have also been released publicly on our YouTube Channel.

My progress on the YouTube channel was one of the factors that led to me winning the FGDP Foundation Dentist of the Year last year – which I am extremely grateful for. I am now extremely proud to also be an Ambassador for the College and to fulfil my role in spreading awareness of the new Career Pathways to support young dentists like myself.

In my foundation training year, I had to decide if I wanted to do Dental Core Training or not. This decision was based on speaking to my friends and colleagues but I found it difficult to make a decision as everyone had different opinions and I was unsure of the pathway I wanted to go down. I am sure many others have been in this position and this is where I believe the new Careers Pathways programme can come in. As a young dentist, having a career pathway which has been mapped by a professional body and shows clear steps in progression gives me security in knowing that I am on the right path for me to expand my knowledge and become a better dentist. Whilst doing so, it’s great to know that my progression will be recognised by the College and I can work my way up to becoming an ‘accomplished practitioner’. I believe the Career Pathway will be a must-use programme for every young dentist who is currently in general practice looking for a structured pathway for continual professional development, enabling you to move forward and enhance your career with confidence.

We plan to launch the College’s Career Pathways in dentistry, underpinned by the Professional Framework, in June 2022. Look out for details in the June issue of our monthly newsletter – sign up to receive it.

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Transforming oral health: A fellow’s journey

Dental Hygienist, Frances Robinson AssocFCGDent, has recently completed the Clinical Oral Health Transformation Fellowship with HEE. As the first ever dental care professional in any clinical fellowship role, Frances explains what was involved.  

A fellowship is a position, often combined with clinical work, that focuses on the learning and development of the individual taking part. Fellowship roles in the healthcare profession aim to expand opportunities for aspiring leaders; helping them gain the necessary experience and skills for future system leadership roles. As such, there are a range of opportunities to be involved with projects and programmes and to work in settings outside a clinician’s normal exposure. There can be specific goals of writing, submitting, and publishing papers, attending meetings and conferences, and working on particular projects, as well as networking. The balance of these is dependent on the host organisation.

I have just completed a one-year position with Health Education England (HEE) as their Clinical Oral Health Transformation Fellow. HEE’s purpose is to support the delivery of excellent healthcare to patients, by ensuring that the workforce has the right numbers, skills, values and behaviours. Thus, the areas I worked on related to the development of the oral health work force.

I was the first dental care professional (DCP) to be awarded the clinical fellowship, these roles are typically fulfilled by a dentist. I am extremely grateful for this innovative appointment both for my personal development and the development of my career, but also for other DCP colleagues, for now it has opened up new realms of opportunities for us to progress in system roles.

I applied for the role because of the potential to gain experience working in the public health sector, whilst allowing me to work clinically at the same time. Having completed a Masters in Dental Public Health in 2017 – spurred on by my interests in health inequalities research – I felt this position would be an excellent opportunity for me to develop my career.

At the CDO stand with Sara Hurley and other fellows at the BDIA showcase

During a fellowship there is flexibility to align the projects undertaken to individual interests, whilst working for the greater aims of an organisation. This means there is a real opportunity to tailor a role to where there is the most personal or organisational benefit. My aims for the year working with HEE were to work on projects that I’m interested in, for example oral health inequalities, oral health empowerment and promotion, increase my skill mix and exposure to multidisciplinary team working in primary care, as well and develop opportunities for leadership and management for all members of the dental team.

I am currently writing up multiple papers to be published; one evaluates the success of a pilot that aimed to reduce the number of paediatric patients sent to secondary care for dental extractions under general anaesthetic. A subsequent paper will evaluate the success of the “return to work” therapy scheme, a programme aimed at supporting Dental Therapists who have not been using their full scope of practice, back into therapy work by providing them with training opportunities, supervisor support and a practice placement. I will also be helping to write a concept paper for a Dental Hygiene postgraduate training programme.

During my time with HEE, I have had the chance to sit on various working groups like a “Managed Clinical Network” and interact with external organisations such as Public Health England, academic institutions, professional societies and local councils.

A clinical fellow may also have the opportunity to attend courses and gain qualifications that are not linked to their clinical work; I was selected to complete an Institute of Leadership and Management, level 7 qualification through HEE. I received three days of training with UMD Professional and then completed a research element which involved interviewing my colleagues at the HEE dental office.

Furthermore, I am currently completing a “Becoming an Expert Educator in the Healthcare Professions” course with the University of Nottingham. These additional skills and qualifications are important for demonstrating tangible outcomes from the year.

It has sometimes been a trying year due to the pandemic – working from home during a fellowship has meant less interaction with colleagues and difficulty integrating into an office very different from a clinical setting. Natural communication with colleagues is often stilted when working virtually. I subsequently created ice breakers for meetings with my peers to stimulate organic conversation!  

There are other fellows across the country with HEE and in other organisations for example with the Chief Dental Officer, General Dental Council, Care Quality Commission and NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I). We have a clinical fellow networking group where collaborations across work streams can be facilitated and a journal club takes place. This has given me the chance to network with new professionals across medicine and dentistry which has been really enjoyable! The fellows try to see each other in person despite being spread out across the country– the most recent of which was at the BDIA Dental Showcase at ExCel London.

As I was the first fellow at Health Education England to be a DCP I was – and still am – in a unique position to be an advocate for DCPs, working hard to make our voices heard across a variety of settings. I was asked to do a presentation at the BDIA conference on workforce and skill mix. I focused on the skill mix in our systems, policy, planning, commissioning, leadership and management. I am passionate about DCP representation in all of these areas as I truly believe that if we are represented throughout the system we will have a more empowered workforce. If you’re interested in taking up a Fellowship position, keep an eye on NHS jobs, HEE jobs, FMLM for dentists and your professional society pages.

Presenting at the BDIA showcase

The College of General Dentistry has a unique structure with exciting opportunities to create connections between different dental professionals against an academic backdrop. There are no other organisations in the industry now that represents all dental registrants in this way. The careers pathway programme will be able to support individuals navigating their fields; there will be guidance, support networks and mentors available to enhance learning and progression. I personally am very excited to have a structure in which to work, with industry recognition of the level attained. I know that many DCPs have much to offer the wider industry with postgraduate qualifications and extensive experience in many areas, as well as evidence of enhanced learning. The College will enable these efforts to be verified through a framework where all dental professional are assessed equally. This certainly is an exciting time for us all.

Frances Robinson chairs the Dental Hygiene & Dental Therapy Group on the College’s Career Pathways programme.

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