Senior House Officer posts (SHO)
graduates who have completed Foundation Training (FT) are now looking
to salaried positions as a future career pathway. Whereas before most
would have gone straight from FT into practice, a shift is slowly
occurring and more graduates are seduced by the apparent stability that
salaried posts provide. But what are these kinds of roles really like
and where do they get you on that all-important career ladder?
It is generally agreed that if you enter into the salaried services
straight from FT you will be taking up a Senior House Officer (SHO)
position. An SHO job provides training and experience in a relevant
speciality, such as restorative dentistry or oral surgery, and is graded
as one below a registrar post and two below a consultant. These
positions can provide a raft of experience for somebody still relatively
fresh out of dental school and even if you don’t decide to go the whole
hog and complete specialist training, it can stand you in good stead
for your future life in practice.
There are more
SHO jobs available in oral and maxillofacial surgery than any other
discipline. While max fax can fill some graduates with fear, others are
attracted to the diversity and challenges it brings. In this role you
will have similar responsibilities to a junior doctor and will therefore
be required to clerk in patients, regularly be on-call and assist
consultants in theatre. You will also have your own list of patients and
be required to attend consultant clinics. A max fax SHO can look
forward to seeing a wide variety of conditions and illnesses and will
experience a range of eye-opening situations that will either have you
signing up for more or running to your nearest comfy practice. Even if
you don’t have such a strong reaction to the post, you can be sure that
you will leave the hospital with more weapons in your dental arsenal
than you had before.
Of course max fax is not the only SHO post you can apply for.
Restorative is another popular speciality, which doesn’t usually require
on-call work and runs at a much gentler pace than its max fax
counterpart. However, just because the work is slower, don’t be fooled
into thinking it is any less valuable. Without the time pressures of
practice you will be able to work on more complex cases involving
endodontics, prosthodontics or periodontics. The main bulk of your work
will be done through specialist clinics where patients have been
referred in by GDPs. This kind of work can be very rewarding and useful
for your future career, however this means that competition is high for
places, so be prepared.
An SHO position in paediatric dentistry can be a good stepping stone for
somebody who wants to specialise in orthodontics. Although most posts
don’t require an orthodontic element, the experience you get from this
kind of SHO post will go a long way towards convincing others that you
are ready for specialist training.
Oral surgery is another option for those who
are interested in this side of dentistry but would prefer not to have
the medical responsibilities that so often come with a max fax job. Oral
medicine is another favourite and is usually based on patient clinics
led by a consultant.
If you like the idea
of working with patients who have special needs then community dentistry
may be the way forward for you. You can expect to see adults and
children with dental anxiety or specific medical needs that require
extra attention. You also may be treating elderly patients or those who
have a mental illness, all making for a somewhat varied job that is
almost certain to keep you on your toes. The communication skills that
you learn while in the community service will be invaluable if you then
decide to return to practice and there are other techniques such as
sedation that you will have learnt, which you can put into practice
MFDS or MJDF
While you are an SHO, if you
decide you want to become a specialist in any discipline you will have
to follow the correct training pathway. That means you will have to
complete two years of structured training as an SHO. During this time
you will usually be encouraged to take your MFDS or MJDF diploma to
become a member of the Royal College of Surgeons. These qualifications
are designed for those wishing to qualify for entry to specialist
training. It takes, on average, 20 months to complete. Once you
successfully complete your diploma you can seek entry onto an approved
specialist training programme.
training will last a minimum of three or five years depending upon the
speciality. For example, special rules exist for people wishing to
specialise in orthodontic or paediatric dentistry. For these disciplines
you are required to complete an additional minimum of two years
training on top of the basic requirement of three years. All specialist
trainees are issued with a National Training Number (NTN) by their
postgraduate dean and are assessed throughout their training to ensure
that the necessary support is being given and progress is being made.
specialist training has been completed you will be awarded a
Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CCST). This means you
can gain entry to the specialist list in your discipline and that you
can call yourself a specialist.
you decide to spend a couple of years as an SHO to gain more in-depth
experience of a particular subject area before returning to practice or
go on to complete the full specialist training, there is no doubt that
your time as an SHO will have been valuable. Approached in the right way
it can be worthwhile and may just put off any decisions about going
into practice for a few more years.
Written specifically for dental students, our Career Guide has further details on hospital career options. Our Education Team can also offer help and support with your career choices.
"You can be sure that you will leave the hospital with more weapons in your dental arsenal than you had before"