Postgraduate Study and Continuing Professional Development

February 18th, 2010

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

This is a vital part of being a dental professional, as it is crucial that you keep your skills and knowledge up to date and are aware of the latest techniques and procedures. This will ensure that your patients receive the best possible care and most appropriate treatment. Dental professionals must complete 150 hours of on-going professional development over 5 years. This can be comprised of structured activities such as: completing postgraduate courses, attending Vocational or General Professional Training study days, attending, conferences, multimedia and distance learning, clinical audits, peer reviews and reading journals. You must keep a record of all of your activities and ensure that they meet the required CPD criteria. 

Postgraduate Study

There is a vast range of specialist areas that dentists choose to go into, including: oral surgery (treating oral injuries, diseases and deformities), prosthodontics (dealing with teeth and dental implants), endodontics (treating diseases of the tooth root) and orthodontics (dealing with the prevention or correction of irregularities of the teeth). There are lots of courses available in UK institutions for further study in these and many other branches of dentistry. Many offer flexible options including part-time and distance learning courses. Dentists who wish to specialise in a specific branch of dentistry can choose to work towards a postgraduate diploma (PGDip) or certificate (PGCert), an MSc (courses usually last 1 year full time or 2 years part time and an MSc can take 3 years) or a PhD (which usually lasts for 4 years). Specialists will then go on to work in hospitals or specialist practices where they will treat patients who require their specific area of expertise.

Entry requirements

Every institution will have specific entry requirements, but generally in order to pursue postgraduate study in dentistry, applicants will have to provide evidence of their primary dental qualification from a recognised institution, be currently working in practice in the UK and have 2 years experience in general professional practice. Some institutions may also require applicants to be full members of the General Dental Council (GDC). 

The Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency (NIMDTA)

What is the NIMDTA?

Based in Belfast, the NIMDTA is the body responsible for postgraduate dental and medical training and on-going professional development for dentists in Northern Ireland. It replaced the Northern Ireland Council for Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education in 2004.

What does the NIMDTA do?

The agency deals with all aspects of postgraduate training and funding for medical and dental professionals. It provides services for trainers and educators in medicine and dentistry and monitors standards in medical and dental education. It also provides career information for practitioners of medicine and dentistry who wish to pursue postgraduate study.

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