Introducing Dentex’s First Foundation Dentists and Beyond Event

Az Hyder was a fitting host for our inaugural Foundation Dentists and Beyond talk – here he shares why he masterminded this event to address a gap in knowledge for undergraduates, plus his key advice for newly qualified dentists

Here at Dentex we are always looking for ways to support students and newly qualified dentists – whether that be with guidance, training opportunities or resources to help them decide their future path on graduating. We know it can be tricky, and that information can at times feel sparse, so we created our very first ‘Foundation Dentist and Beyond’ talk, held at Newcastle University, on 3rd May. We hope it will be the first event of its kind – we had some fantastic feedback from attending students – and look forward to hosting more (perhaps we could be coming to your university next? Do read on for more…).

Az Hyder – a Dentex partner and Group Principal and Clinical Director of the Burgess & Hyder Dental Group – masterminded, introduced and hosted the event. How to offer support to students and newly qualified dentists is a topic close to Az’s heart – he was appointed Educational Supervisor for the Northern Deanery in 1995 and spent nine years mentoring and working with newly-qualified dentists from Newcastle Dental School. As a member of Dentex, he is helping postgraduate dentists develop their professional training and career pathways. “I’m trying to make sure that Dentex is continuously challenging what we can provide for these dentists to make their careers a better place and give them opportunities,” he explains.

The event was developed after seeing there was a clear gap in knowledge for foundation dentists. “We’d had feedback from a number of foundation dentists, and from educational supervisors, that FDs are not always aware or fully briefed on what they’re going to be faced with on a foundation dentists training scheme,” Az describes. “So it begins with trying to reach out to undergraduates and give them information on the FD selection process by scheme nationally, and then talking to them about the FD process and the educational learning experience that they are going to undergo for a year.”

Az recognised that one of the key benefits to an event of this kind would be giving students access to the panel of speakers: Nathan Ayer and Jamie Hutton (both Foundation Dentists at Dentex) and Matthew Shilling (Dentist and Educational Supervisor), who covered topics including the foundation dentist pathway and their future after undergraduate studies.

“I think the first benefit was to actually have a face-to-face meeting with an Educational Supervisor, which is a privilege few undergraduates have,” Az describes. “The second benefit was they had a very structured, informative presentation on the regional variations in the schemes. They then got insight from two Foundation Dentists into what the challenging aspects of foundation training has been, and what they perceive to be the high points, plus they’re insight into future plans. The other aspect was a presentation with the Educational Supervisor – he gave the students insight on the structure that the ES provides for a foundation dentist, and what the training involves as far as an education supervisor is concerned.”

Final year student Ish Ali reiterated that the panel’s insights were incredibly relevant to him and his peers: “It was very reassuring to hear the experiences of two current foundation dentists and also the actionable advice they provided regarding scheme selection. Having a current Education Supervisor (ES) explain Foundation Year from their perspective was also very useful given the key relationship we will be having with our ES in the coming months.”

It was clear that the more practical side of the presentation really resonated with the audience, as was reflected in the questions they asked in the Q&A session. “It gave people a chance to ask some very open, honest and candid questions,” Az describes. “Such as ‘what does it take to fail a foundation training?’ and ‘What do we look as educating supervisors when we are assessing foundation dentists?’”

Hannah Gorman, final year dental student, referenced the Q&A in her positive feedback: “All members of the presenting team then contributed to a Q&A session, which covered a wide range of topics from assessments during foundation year, to what the study days involved, and the North-East job selections. Having the range of experience and outlooks on the profession was great to gain a thorough overview of what our next year will involve.”

As for Az’s own advice to newly qualified dentists, he shares: “It’s critical for FDs that when they start looking for jobs, beyond the training schemes, they look carefully at the practice they’re going to be applied to, to see if they are able to access the support to help them develop their career pathways. They should be continuously challenging themselves at an early stage. Obviously, you can’t do everything, but look at the practice maker; look at the practice principal; look at the team members, and see what they are doing and what they have done; and look at local opportunities they can provide, rather than just looking at the job in isolation and at the pay.”

He continues: “If there are opportunities, are they training opportunities? Are there mentoring opportunities? Are there opportunities where they can go and shadow other clinicians and other team members? If it’s a single-handed practice, there’s nothing wrong with that. But if it’s a small practice, they may not necessarily have the ability to be mentored and to be trained.”

Az sees this final point as one of the real benefits he’s witnessed by being part of the Dentex group – no matter what the size of the practice, there’s a huge network to tap into: “The beautiful thing about Dentex is that we are a group of 130 practices. So in the unlikely event that the Dentex practice can’t offer them what they need, we’ve got partners who can. And we’ve not got one partner, we’ve got 129 other partners that these dentists can have access to.”

Dentex are developing a Pathway to Private programme to support newly qualified dentists pursue a career in private dentistry.  This will be unlike any other training programme in dentistry as Dentists will have the opportunity to work alongside and be mentored by leading clinicians in private practice whilst being supported by Dentex training programmes and resources.  You won’t want to miss this so email [email protected] to register your interest.

Stay tuned – and if you’d be interested in Dentex hosting a similar event for your university, please do get in touch.