In your final year of uni? One of the many hoops you’ll have to jump through this year is applying for a DFT/VT Post.

In the following article Jimmy Boyle discusses the application process as well as what you can expect in your DFT/VT year.


Jimmy Boyle BDS, MRCPS (Glas) Email:

Jimmy is the Assistant Director of Postgraduate Dental Education in Scotland, as well as a General Dental Practitioner. His experience in these roles as well as his time spent as both a VT Trainer and VT Advisor make him perfectly suited to giving you an insight into what to expect from DFT/VT, as well as the application process.



Dental education
  • Vocational Trainer 1999 – 2007
  • VT Adviser 2004 – 2007
  • Assistant Director of Postgrad. Dental Education 2007 – present.
  • 2009 – 2011 MEd (Leadership and Management)
Dental practice
  • Isle of Bute (as Vocational trainee)
  • Kirkintilloch (General Dental Practitioner)
  • Cumbernauld (General Dental Practitioner)


Vocational Training (VT) in Scotland, known as Dental Foundation Training (DFT) in the rest of the United Kingdom, is a programme designed to help recently qualified dentists make the transition from undergraduate teaching to independent practice.

If training had to be summed up in one word, that word would be “support”. All aspects of training, and the aspirations of those involved in its delivery, are designed to provide you with a supported environment while developing into a practitioner capable of independent practice. Just as no two people are the same, no two training experiences are identical and the training provided depends on the needs and abilities of the individual.

Training normally, but not always, takes place over a period of 12 months and consists of working in a supervised practice, while supported by an educational programme. Each new graduate will be paired with an experienced dentist who acts as their trainer for the year. Normally this is a one to one relationship but in some cases a new graduate will have multiple trainers. Likewise a trainer can be paired with multiple new graduates. While entry to VT/DFT is normally direct from graduation, in some circumstances candidates will be able to access training for a short time after graduation.

Typically, regions will be divided into schemes and these are of such a size as to facilitate small group teaching. Each group is led by an adviser (Scotland), or training programme director (rest of the UK). The adviser or TPD organises and facilitates study days as well as providing support to the scheme’s trainers and VDPs/DFTs.


Keep an eye on COPDEND and NES websites for details, and remember that applications must be submitted well in advance of the start of your training. Typically, applications will close in the September before your training year begins, so do not miss the deadline.

If you are unsuccessful in securing a place in training, there are other ways in which you can demonstrate that you have undergone training of an equivalent quality (equivalence). This will, however, require you to obtain employment as an assistant to another dentist, and to design your own study programme! I would suggest that VT/DFT represents far and away the easiest, and best, route to a career in general practice.

VT in Scotland commences at the start of August each year. DFT in the rest of the UK has a start date at the beginning of September.

In Scotland at present, legislation exists which requires you to satisfy attendance and assessment criteria before you can be awarded a certificate of Satisfactory Completion.

The rest of UK intends to introduce Satisfactory Completion in 2016, although details of the assessment format may differ.

On completion of VT/DFT, you will be eligible to work independently in general practice. Typically, in the latter part of your training you will in seek your next post, which may or may not be within general practice. It’s not unusual for dentists to take up associate posts within their training practice, if these are offered!


Any other advice to a young student about to enter DFT/VT?

The end of your training period does not mean that your postgraduate learning is complete! All dentists must be committed to lifelong learning, whether this takes the form of additional qualifications or individual CPD courses


  • Dental Foundation Training (DFT) 2016 National Recruitment (England, Northern Ireland & Wales)

– Applications Open: 25 August 2015

– Applications Close: 22 September 2015

  • Dental Vocational Training (DVT) 2016 Recruitment (Scotland)

– Applications Open: 28 August 2015

– Applications Close: 28 September 2015


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