Life as a foundation dentist.

By Tara Bharadia

Taking that first step out of the Dental school and into the working world can feel really nerve-wracking. You are excited at the prospect of a pay cheque, but feel apprehensive of what is to come. That is how I felt walking into my new job for the first day…

I was relieved to have passed Dental school but the next step can be a daunting one. Even though I made contact with my practice early, nothing can prepare you for the first day.

What scrubs will I wear, what do I take for lunch, what will my nurse be like? You go armed with questions, concerns, but when you get there, it really isn’t as scary as you first thought. Like most FDs, I spent my first few days shadowing my ES, getting to know the practice, people, equipment and reading a lot of paperwork! Everything from safeguarding and GDPR to local rules and referral guidelines.

From the second week, I had my patients booked in. All check-ups and scales, an hour for appointments and x-ray equipment in the room! While I was glad to no longer need to wait at the x-ray department in the DH but taking bitewings takes getting used to and if definitely something I struggled with.

Appointments went fast but writing the notes seemed to take an age and I quickly worked on my templates which have really made my life easier (I make mine on a Google document so that I can edit them anywhere and use a contents table to make it easy to navigate), but always remember to personalise them to the patient and write in the present tense! I have learnt that I don’t mind exams, but they are tiring as you are talking most of the day and much prefer treatments.

Something I found the hardest was decision-making. You underestimate how many decisions you make as a dentist, but there are easily 50 decisions you have to make, just for a check-up! It can be hard to trust yourself and your clinical decisions, as well as build confidence with treatment plans, but you do get better and will continue to improve during your whole career. Imposter syndrome definitely sets in, as your patients see you as an actual dentist, and you may not feel 100% there yet – but taking it a day at a time, as talking to your ES when you need it really helps – it is what they are there for!

I have also learnt that dentistry is not your life and that is great! You have to work out your own boundaries with a work-life balance. Some of us will be working on social media, portfolios and exams from day one. But for me, I love dentistry as a career and have goals, but when I come home, I try to switch off and fill my life with my other ambitions.

At the moment, I am learning sign language, teaching adults to read and experimenting with baking. Enjoy your time as a foundation dentist and get excited for what the future brings!

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