There is a large demand for dentists and DCPs in the UK. However, non-EU graduates are required to satisfactorily demonstrate their knowledge and ability, via equivalence examinations (ORE and LDS), in order to practice within the UK. In this article, Dr Omair Javed discusses the process and working as an overseas dentist in the UK.
Dr Omair Javed | BDS(Hons.), LDS RCS(Eng.), M.Sc
Practice of Aesthetic and Restorative Dentistry
ORE & LDS Course Instructor
Dr Omair Javed practices in different NHS and Private dental practices in and around London. His main area of expertise includes advanced oral rehabilatation and cosmetic restorative dentistry, He completed his BDS from Pakistan with Honours and then completed a Masters from Kings College London to further enhance his skillset. He has been published in many internationally recognised journals and is very active in the field of complex oral rehab research. Dr Javed has given both ORE and LDS examinations and also teaches ORE and LDS students. He has successfully taken many students through this journey.
WORKING AS AN OVERSEAS DENTIST IN THE UK
Dental care is given a lot of importance in the United Kingdom and the National Health Service (NHS) provides subsidised dental services to the public. There is a large demand for dentists and dental care professionals in the UK. If you have qualified overseas, outwith the European Union, you will have to go through an equivalence exam in order to practice dentistry within the UK.
All dentists have to be registered with General Dental Council (GDC) to be able to practice dentistry in the UK. There are two pathways available to overseas qualified dentists to become eligible for registration with the GDC. The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS Eng.) conducts the Licensure in Dental Surgery (LDS) examination and the General Dental Council conducts the Overseas Registration Exam (ORE) for overseas qualified dentists. After passing either one of these examinations, one can become eligible for GDC registration and start practicing as a dentist in UK. There is also a temporary registration pathway, but it is a very tricky and unreliable method, so I will focus mainly on ORE and LDS exams in this article.
Both exams consist of two parts. Part 1 is theoretical and tests all basic sciences including clinically applied dental science, clinically applied human disease, clinical dentistry, law & ethics and health & safety. LDS1 is a paper-based 6 hour exam, while ORE1 is a computer-based exam conducted over two 3 hour sessions over 2 days. Part 2 of both examinations are practical and include; objective structured clinical reasoning (OSCE), dental treatment planning or unseen case examinations and medical emergencies. These three components are tested in 2 to 3 days. It is an exhausting process but the fruits are great. It isn’t impossible, many students have passed and are now practicing successfully.
Both LDS and ORE have their advantages and disadvantages, depending upon each individuals personal preferences. LDS can be included with post-nominal letters, as it is a degree/diploma awarded by the Royal College of Surgeons of England, a very reputable institute worldwide. Many countries accept the LDS as an equivalent exam for registration with their own dental councils. However, the LDS is a rare commodity, in that Part 1 of the exam is only conducted once a year and places are very limited. Part 2 is conducted twice a year and again places are very limited. Furthermore, although the college is currently trying to automate the application process, applications for Part 2 of the LDS exam still require submission by post and hand delivered forms are not accepted. Therefore, to avoid disappointment and a risk of being delayed by a further 6 months to sit the exam, one would need to take this into consideration when submitting the application.
On the other hand, the ORE application process is more efficient in that documents can be submitted online. After your documents are checked and approved, you will be given an e-GDC account login and notified in advance of when the exam booking window opens. This is where it gets competitive, as you will have to book your slot almost immediately, due to the high demand for places. The exam is usually fully booked within minutes. Therefore, I would recommend having a GMT-set clock at hand and at 14:00 (the usual time the booking window opens) login to your e-GDC account, if you are lucky enough you will have an exam waiting to be booked. From personal experience, I missed out twice on booking! So you need to be really vigilant. ORE Part 1 is conducted twice a year and Part 2 is conducted 3 – 4 times a year (i.e. more regularly than the LDS). The downside is that the ORE is a very mechanical exam and they only want perfection. There can be many opinions on a clinical situation or treatment options, however, they will only accept the answer on their marking scheme. Therefore, preparation for the ORE isn’t to be taken lightly!
Both exams require similar documentation, links to apply are included below. The relevant documents include, dental degree certificate, a letter of good standing from your current dental council, character and clinical references from an undergraduate teacher, IELTS certificate and a NARIC equivalence statement. NARIC statements are very easy to get. Create an online login account at www.naric.org.uk, scan and upload your degree certificate and pay the relevant fee for a statement of equivalence (usually around £50). Once your documentation is ready, complete the relevant forms from the following links:
- LDS (Part 1 online booking, Part 2 posted application forms) https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/education-and-exams/exams/search/license-in-dental-surgery-part-1/
- ORE https://www.gdc-uk.org/professionals/ore/how-to-apply
Once you have passed your exams, you will be eligible for entry to the GDC register. There are many routes available to practice after this journey. You can start practicing in general dental pracice, either in the NHS or privately, or get a job in secondary care, either in community or hospital as a Dental Core Trainee. To practice in the NHS, you hare required to undertake a period of supervised training called as Dental Foundation Training (DFT) or Vocational Training by Equivalence (VTE). Deaneries across the UK have different processes, but generally it involves 6 months to 1 year of supervised training in general practice. You will also have to complete a portfolio of evidence to be submitted for assessment by the deanery for successful completion of training.
I wish you all the very best for your future.