I am pleased to report that once again I have again been selected as a tutor on the Faculty of General Practice Certificate in Minor Oral Surgery course at the Royal College of Surgeons of England in London. This will be the second year in a row that I has been selected as a tutor on this prestigious course. This is on top of being the oral surgery clinical lead for the NHS Heywood Middleton and Rochdale CATS scheme which is an innovative, pioneering referral based scheme designed to bring specialist oral and dental surgical care closer to communities in Middleton, Heywood and Rochdale in Greater Manchester, as well as the staff specialist in oral surgery at the UCLAN dental clinic in Preston. I have a passionate commitment to dental postgraduate education having been a trainer for vocational trainees (new dental graduates) between 2005 and 2009 and having taught on the Masters programme in oral surgery at Manchester and now at UCLAN.
I am thrilled and honoured to be working with the Faculty of General Practice at the Royal College of Surgeons once again. The certificate course in oral surgery is a superb hands on way for general dental practitioners to increase their confidence and experience in minor oral surgery. The fundamental aim of this course is to provide the dentists with an opportunity to complete multiple “hands on” oral surgery cases supervised by a specialist oral surgeon within a primary care setting or specialist minor oral surgery clinic. The theoretical part is delivered at the Royal College of Surgeons in London and the practical sessions are delivered regionally by tutors. Last year after a competitive selection process I was delighted to be selected as a tutor and I am even more thrilled to be selected again as a tutor for the new cohort of dentists who have commenced this month on this year long course.
We need to ensure that general dentists are given enough training to allow them to confidently complete minor oral surgery procedures in practice. It is not just completing the cases that is important – it is the ability to assess what they can and cannot manage in terms of treatment that also determines their competence and ability. Knowing ones limitations is an important part of being a caring, competent and reflective practitioner. Whilst many dentists put themselves forward to study implant based hands on courses many of them are not confident in soft and hard tissue management including extractions and surgical removal of roots. There aren’t many courses out there that provide the chance for the busy general dental practitioner to gain experience in carrying out hands on minor oral surgery in practice whilst still being able to continue to work. Dental schools are no longer sending out qualified dentists – they are sending “safe beginners” in to the world. The surgical removal of teeth has been identified as one of the areas that newly qualified dentists feel least prepared for after their university training has been completed. Unfortunately the effect of this is that many minor oral surgery cases which could be seen in practice are referred to hospital secondary care facilities which takes away valuable resources that perhaps could have been treated in the primary care sector. The dental schools have abdicated their responsibility for producing skilled practical dentists and they argue that the world has changed from the past say 25 plus years ago when I qualified. However although the world has changed dentists are still hands on people who need to deliver practical hands on care. Regrettably nobody at either dental schools or anywhere else amongst the powers that be are willing to listen – they continue to agree amongst themselves that all is well. Yet those of us that come across new dental graduates see a different picture. To speak out against this self perpetuating elite is indeed heresy.
The Faculty of General Dental Practice at the Royal College of Surgeons is a very prestigious organisation. It was formed over 20 years ago as the academic home for general dental practitioners and aims to improve the standard of care delivered to patients through standard setting, postgraduate training and assessment, education and research. To be working with such an auspicious body on one of their courses is indeed an honour