Clear, accurate and concise verbal and written communication is essential to every aspect of treating patients - from discussing the risks, benefits and alternatives of your proposed treatment to drafting a referral letter.
Effective communication skills are also valuable in the event of a complaint, or if you have difficulties with a colleague. When the going gets tough, the ability to listen, conduct yourself calmly and (where appropriate) assertively could make the difference between a constructive discussion and an aggressive confrontation.
It is always worth looking back on difficult encounters and considering how your language and demeanour might have affected the outcome. Your colleagues are also a good source of advice, or you could consider asking your trainer about communication skills courses.
In addition to hands-on clinical dentistry you will need to keep on top of your paperwork, including record-keeping, referral letters, laboratory order forms and NHS dental activity forms, not to mention your CPD and personal development portfolio. For example, something as simple as omitting to check the day before an appointment that a piece of laboratory work has been returned can precipitate patient dissatisfaction.
Preparing for DF1 interview success
Saturday 17 October, Manchester, Saturday 31 October, London
Patients are often unable to measure the standard of our dentistry but will make judgements by any means they can. In circumstances such as this a patient is likely to feel that the service has been poor, particularly if they have been inconvenienced or have suffered social embarrassment as a consequence of the oversight. This may cause them to question whether the dentistry is similarly sub-standard.
Be aware that the GDC expects you to keep up to date with the laws and regulations that affect your work so it’s well worth setting aside time to review the dental press and the regular advice and updates from the DDU.
Management on the curriculum
The value of management skills is now recognised in the dental curriculum. Of the four domains of dental foundation training (DFT) - clinical, communication, professionalism and management and leadership - the majority are actually non-clinical skills.
Current undergraduate applicants for DFT will be expected to demonstrate their aptitude for management as part of the 2015 selection process in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Scotland does not have a national scheme and applicants are interviewed for specific training posts).
Specifically, the DFT applicant guide1 says the selection centres will assess:
- organisation and planning - thoroughness and being able to prioritise
- managing others and teamworking - understanding the importance of teamwork and working effectively with others
- vigilance and situational awareness - monitoring developing situations and anticipating issues
- coping with pressure - demonstrating initiative and resilience to cope with changing circumstances.
Head of the DDU
John Makin BDS PgDL PgCDE FHEA is head of the DDU. He qualified in Manchester in 1983 and has worked as a general dental practitioner in Lancashire and Devon before joining the DDU as a dento-legal adviser. He was involved with foundation training for many years as both a trainer and VT adviser/training programme director with the Manchester and Exeter DFT schemes.
See more by John Makin