Sector Soapbox Modern Dentist’s panel of resident associations outline the burning issues
Improving performance in Fitness to Practice (FtP) In recent years, society’s understanding and acceptance of mental health issues has greatly improved, but there is still a long way to go before that journey is complete. I’m still quite new to the General Dental Council (GDC), but I think it’s fair to say that this comment could equally apply to the GDC. The substantive part of my role is to improve how we perform in Fitness to Practise (FtP) across the board, and, in the context of mental health and wellbeing, it’s on my agenda to enhance how we support those going through the process.
The ‘enforcement’ element of our role is a vital part of the GDC’s work, but we understand the experience of going through FtP can be a stressful one. This is why we must do all we can to minimise that stress wherever possible and offer support to people who may need it. We are keen to improve how we communicate with people going through FtP because we know that what we say and how we say it has the potential to have a big effect. Work is underway to better understand this and to revise how we communicate - I look forward to this being implemented in the near future. One area in which I think improvements have already been made is the support we provide when concerns are identified. For example, we have spent quite a bit of time talking to third party organisations about what they can offer, and there’s now a really good page detailing this on our website – https://www.gdc-uk.org/ professionals/ftp-prof/support.
We have also worked with charities Samaritans and Mind to deliver training to our teams working on the front line. The training has helped them to better understand mental health issues and to identify possible signs of distress when interacting with people. Where possible, issues have been identified and the training helps them to understand the best ways to communicate in order to provide more effective support. These are just a few areas where I feel our work to improve FtP is taking shape, and I look forward to talking about further developments soon.
Executive Director, Fitness to Practise Transition General Dental Council (GDC)
Advancing dental education Although originally from Manchester, I graduated from Liverpool University in 2014 and completed my foundation training in Liverpool. I undertook and passed the MJDF examination in June 2016 and was appointed as the Early Careers Board observer for the FGDP in September 2017. I have worked in general practice in Liverpool since graduating, and currently live in South Liverpool with my partner Chris, who is also a dentist. As a new graduate, it is easy to feel that you ‘know it all’ having just passed your finals and likely having excellent theoretical knowledge. However, after a short time in general practice it becomes clear that this is not the case! Successful completion of your foundation year shows that your skills have developed
42|Modern Dentist Magazine
somewhat and you are deemed safe enough to branch out on your own; this is when your dental career truly begins. Dentistry is an ever-changing and rapidly progressing field. In my opinion, if you do not keep up with changes and progression, you will be left behind. It is extremely important both for yourself and for your patients to keep up-to-date with advances and changes; this in itself allows me personally to feel confident that I am providing my patients with the best quality care. Dentistry is such a competitive field, and anything you can do to make yourself stand out can only be a good thing. The best thing about the MJDF examination is that it is a nationally recognised qualification – to pass you have to demonstrate a certain level of knowledge. Having completed the examination does not necessarily make you a ‘better’ dentist but shows future employees that you have a good-quality skill-set and are willing to learn and progress in your career. Completing a recognised qualification can open up many
career opportunities, whether that is working in general practice or progressing onto specialist care. Many principals in general practice will use this as a marker for candidate quality. With so many people applying for the same jobs – any extra qualifications you have can help to show that you are the best candidate for the job! The FGDP(UK) motto is ‘advancing dental care’. This is the reason that I became a dentist. Continued education and development allows me to provide the bestquality care to my patients on a day-to-day basis, as well as allowing me to progress through my career and open up many different opportunities.
Associate Dentist, Garston Dental Practice and Early Careers Board observer Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP)