I chose dentistry as a career path because I was intrigued by how the profession incorporates maths, chemistry, physics, biology, design, art, and using skill to help people, all in one career. When I graduated and started clinical dentistry, I had even more questions about evidence-based practice and wanted to learn more about clinical dentistry.
After five years of experience in General Dental Practice, I decided that I wanted to pursue the speciality of paediatric dentistry, mainly because it incorporates almost all aspects of general dentistry in medically or behaviourally complex individuals. The prerequisites to apply for this specialist training program were an Honours degree and/or Primary Examination. However, it was clear that completion of the Primary Examination was weighted heavily in the application process.
The Primary Examination
I studied for and completed the Primary Examination as a matter of necessity for my specialist application. Little did I know how much I would gain from this experience. Only a few other dentists completed the examination in South Australia that year, so we got to know one another well. We enjoyed sharing study notes and exciting findings during our preparation, as well as celebrating after our last examination and again when we received the highly anticipated results. To this day, we still keep in touch, even after pursuing further study in different dental specialities and residing in other states. The Primary Examination specifically helped me to:
- Refresh my understanding of the fundamental sciences in dentistry
- Apply undergraduate knowledge in a clinical context
- Broaden my reading from undergraduate lecture notes to other sources
- Meet other dentists with similar career goals
Fellowship in General Dental Practice
I commenced speciality training in paediatric dentistry whilst working in the hospital setting. During this time, I was informed that future consultant positions required Fellowship, either clinical or by examination. After chatting to specialists in my field, I discovered many had achieved RACDS Fellowship in General Dental Practice during their speciality training. I thoroughly enjoyed preparing for this examination and found the new knowledge very clinically relevant and immediately adapted my practice.
The RACDS Fellowship Examination in GDP also allowed me to catch up on areas of dentistry that I had not necessarily practised for some time. Although I completed the Fellowship in General Dental Practice out of future necessity, the experience made me realise how much enjoyment and benefit I gained in the process, including the opportunity to:
- Review current clinical guidelines but extend this into a critical review of the evidence used to produce them
- Spur discussion with my colleagues about our clinical practices and whether the evidence we followed was up to date and still relevant
- Create contact with other specialists regarding their favourite and key articles from their respective fields
- Be involved at state-based College events and engage with dentists and specialists who had completed the Final Exam
- Relate all the required research into a clinically relevant context
Membership in Specialist Dental Practice
Upon completing my speciality training, I was lucky that my degree was accredited, assessed, and recognised by the College to receive a Membership in Specialist Dental Practice through the SDP Qualifications Pathway. This Membership now allows me to advance my dental career to Fellowship in Specialist Dental Practice.
Fellowship in Specialist Dental Practice
I have started and thoroughly enjoy the RACDS Fellowship in Specialist Dental Practice preparation. This involves completing a logbook of work as a specialist, presenting interesting and relevant case reports, and preparing for the viva voce. Once you have graduated as a specialist, there are many highly complex and involved patients and procedures that we might not otherwise have the opportunity to share with our colleagues. The Fellowship Examination has allowed me to choose cases that I am particularly proud of, conduct significant literature investigation, and reflect upon what I might have done differently in retrospect.
After completing the Primary Examination and the Fellowship in General Dental Practice Examination out of necessity to achieve different career goals, I am now focusing on Fellowship in Specialist Dental Practice for my own learning and achievement. It is an excellent opportunity to update my specialist knowledge and have open discussions with senior specialist colleagues about their journey through the College and profession. Involvement in the College has also inspired me to pursue further study and consider my long-term career goals.
Dr Emilija Jensen
BDS BSciDent(Hons) DClinDent(Paed) FRACDS(GDP) MRACDS(Paed)
Specialist in Paediatric Dentistry