Community Dental Services (CDS) CIC dentists Catriona Brown, associate operations director in Lincolnshire and Akhila Kotta, senior dental officer in Norfolk and Waveney, have been accepted as education supervisors for a Dental Therapist Foundation Training Scheme. Catriona and Akhila will undertake three days of training to prepare for their roles, which start on September 1, 2022.
“Unlike for dentists, the foundation training year for therapists is optional, and in the past the scheme has only come with a small bursary. This year sees a pilot scheme fully funded through Health Education England (HEE). The aim is to support the newly qualified individual to be a competent independent clinician by the end of a 12-month period, through regular assessments and tutorials, clinical support and training,” explains Catriona.
Becoming an education supervisor is competitive, with more people applying than there are places. Potential educational supervisors need to apply through a detailed application form, often more than 20 pages. Following that are virtual site visits to prove clinics have all the equipment they say is available, interviews on clinical competencies, a record keeping audit, and another interview by HEE.
Catriona and Akhila will have two dental foundation therapists’ allocated to their service, both working 2.5 days each. “The deanery arranges days for others in the scheme to shadow their colleagues, so this will be a fantastic opportunity for us to also show how special care dentistry and community dental services differs from general dentistry. It is an exciting opportunity for our service and area,” explains Akhila.
Catriona believes this is important to CDS, “We think we offer an excellent training platform and also the skill-mix within the dental team is really important when providing an effective and efficient service. Our current therapists use all their clinical competencies. If we can show the opportunities working in a community dental service can offer, then it may open up future training options in the future, possibly for paediatrics or special care dentistry”. Akhila adds, “I hope that by showing therapists that we do indeed appreciate their entire skillset and how important a part of the team they are for us (as well as additional opportunities that could arise in the future such as domiciliary visits and sedation training), it may be something to consider for staff retention and recruitment”.
CDS Bedfordshire has had foundation dentists for many years, with CDS Derbyshire having post graduate trainees. CDS often supports two or three clinical dental fellows. This is the first time CDS will have foundation dental therapists.