The GDC currently recognises 13 various fields of dentistry with regards to their specialist register. You are not required to join a specialist list to practise a specialty, however, only dentists on these specialist lists have the right to use the ‘specialist’ title. In this series of articles you can find out more about each specialty from experts in their respective fields, with advice on the career pathway as well as sharing their experiences as a specialist.

The specialty of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology involves the diagnosis of diseases of the mouth, jaws, face and neck by microscopic examination of tissue samples.

In the following article, Professor Keith Hunter, Consultant in Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, discusses how you can establish a career in this field.


PathologyDr Keith D Hunter BSc (Hons), BDS (Hons), FDSRCSEd, PhD, FRCPath

Clinical Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
Unit of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield
Claremont Crescent
Sheffield S10 2TA

Where have you worked and studied?

Currently I am Clinical Senior Lecturer and honorary Consultant in Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology at the University of Sheffield. After BDS and an intercalated BSc in Pharmacology in Glasgow, I worked as a vocational Dental Practitioner and also worked as an SHO for 3 years (including time in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery). I then completed my PhD at the CRUK Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow and clinical training in Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, whilst working as a Lecturer in the Glasgow Dental School.


Following postdoctoral work and the completion of clinical training, I was appointed as Senior Clinical Lecturer and honorary Consultant Histopathologist at the University of Glasgow in 2008. I moved to my current position at the University of Sheffield in 2009.


Currently, I am also Academic Director for the Oral and Dental Academic Directorate in Sheffield Hospitals Trust and lead a research group of one Post-doc, 4 PhD students, 2 Masters Project students, one intercalating BMedSci student.

What is Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology?


Entry Requirements

Currently candidates may seek entry to OMFP training after completion of Dental Core Training Posts (formerly DF2/CDP posts). It is also expected that the candidate will have obtained MJDF (RCS Eng), MFDS or equivalent by this point. In practice however, many appointment committees like to see experience in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and also evidence of experience in an OMFP post at Dental Core Training (formerly DF2/CDP) level. A number of such posts exist round the country (e.g. Sheffield, Guys) and provide evidence of full exploration of the requirements of OMFP training before embarking on a formal training pathway

Training pathways take two forms:

“Standard” 5 year training pathway, as outlined above. As many of the training centres are also academic units there is opportunity for both research and teaching experience. On completion of training, the initial appointment would be as an NHS Histopathology Consultant, which will most likely be in a large general Histopathology department.

This combines OMPF training with a higher research degree.

  1. NIHR Integrated Academic Training (IAT) pathway: this follows the progress from Academic Clinical Fellow (ACF) to doctoral training fellow (PhD) and then to Academic Clinical Lecturer (ACL). This full pathway may take up to 10 years, but places trainees in a competitive position for senior research fellowships.
  2. “Informal” academic training. Some centres offer NHS funded academic StR 7/8 year posts to encompass clinical training and a PhD, but this may not have the formal NIHR structure and often trainees get exposure to all aspects of academic training; however, they are not formally appointed as lecturers.

Completion of this pathway may lead to an NHS Consultant post or an academic OMPF post (Senior Clinical Lecturer).

Anything different you did/would like to have done in your own pathway?

I followed an academic training pathway which gave me a solid research background in addition to my clinical training. However, once the PhD was finished the focus was very much on completion of training, leaving very little time for post-doctoral research experience. Ideally I would have liked more of this before taking on the role as Senior Clinical Lecturer, with all the expectations that bring from the University.

Any other advice to a young student aiming to set off on the path to a career in OMFP?

The most useful advice is to visit departments and spend time with an OMFP if you are interested in this speciality as a career. Please come and see us – we don’t bite!


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