Why Did I Choose DCT Over Being an Associate?

Dental Foundation Trainee? DCT1 (previously known as DF2) applications open soon and you may be considering whether to apply for DCT or an associate position.

In the following article Natalie Bradley, blogger at ‘A Tooth Germ’, discusses why she chose DCT.

Natalie Bradley | BDS, MFDS RCSEd

Restorative DCT, Guy’s Hospital

A Tooth Germ

Natalie graduated from Newcastle Dental School in 2014 before moving to London to complete her foundation year in practice and is now a Restorative Dental Core Trainee at Guy’s Hospital. She is a Tubules Live ambassador and joint London Study Club Director for Dentinal Tubules and regularly blogs on her website atoothgerm.blogspot.co.uk


Dental Core Training (DCT) applications are coming up in the next month, and those of you who are currently in their Dental Foundation Year (DFT) may be wondering if some of these posts are for you.

There are a variety of different posts available; from Max-Fax, to Oral Medicine to Paediatrics. I am currently working at Guy’s Hospital in London, my post being a mixed rotation in Restorative and Oral Surgery. So why did I choose to do DCT?

 1. I can work under the supervision of consultants

Working in a training environment means learning from lots of different people – some very skilled and prestigious clinicians.

My foundation practice last year was small with only 2 chairs for just me and my trainer. That meant that there was only one other person’s opinion to seek if I needed help. Being in a hospital full of experienced staff means there are lots of opinions to hear and people you can learn from!

Working with more skilled staff also means I can treat patients that I would not be comfortable doing so in practice as I can work under their direct supervision and guidance.

2. I can learn to work in a big team

This multi-disciplinary approach to treatment can involve liaising with several different departments within a hospital. With the new NHS contract in the pipeline focusing on the skill-mix within the profession, learning how to communicate with different staff and departments will be an essential skill!

3. To develop my career pathway

Any academic or specialist pathway will require you to complete a DCT post of some sort. This doesn’t mean that if you choose to do this year you have to do one of the aforementioned, but meeting lots of clinicians who have all gone through different paths will help you get an idea of what different careers there are in dentistry.

While you’re in these institutions you can also get involved in audit, research and poster projects which are opportunities to make you stand out if you were to apply for further training posts.

In my post there are also opportunities to help with undergraduate teaching which may help if you may think you want to get involved in education e.g. become a trainer or clinical demonstrator.

You have your entire career as a dentist to be an associate. Training posts are a fantastic way to develop your skills and if you opt to do one early on in your career, you won’t miss the difference in earnings!

Plus doing a DCT post doesn’t mean you can’t be an associate; if you’re willing to work lates or at weekends, you can work as an associate and keep up your skills in practice! Keeping a hand in like this will help if you decide to choose to be an associate full-time in the future by keeping your speed up, as well as knowing how primary care works.

If you’re interested in applying for DCT make sure you look out for when the posts come out on the dates below – see the Oriel & NES websites for more details.

Further Information


DCT1 2016 National Recruitment (England, Northern Ireland & Wales)

  • Applications Open: 29th January 2016
  • Applications Close: 26th February 2016

DCT1 2016 Recruitment (Scotland)

  • Applications Open: 3rd March 2016
  • Applications Close: 31st March 2016


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