What to Expect
You’re almost there but regardless of which university you go to, you are bound to find your final year as challenging.
Clinical requirements, job applications, case presentations, essays, and of course exams, will always be on your mind at some point or another. The key however is definitely not to panic, but to know how to approach the year in the right way.
1. Getting Started
Being organised is an absolute must this year, so start getting your revision notes, files and admin together as early as possible. Investing in a good diary and a wall planner would be a good idea. You need to sit down and compile a thorough ‘to do’ list of everything that needs to be completed in order for you to graduate so look up exam dates, job application deadlines, clinical deadlines etc so you know exactly what you need to achieve and when. Think about what you are aiming for. If you are going to aim for distinctions/prizes this will no doubt affect how much time you spend on various things and your prioritisation. Any “free time” (if there is such a thing in final year!) that does come your way, always try to put it to good use even if it’s for taking a break or having a day off.
2. Clinical Requirements
At the dental school I went to, a shortage of clinical totals would stop you from even sitting finals, so make your own assessment at the beginning of how much clinical experience you have had and what needs to be done. If you’re worried, speak to a tutor early on and decide if you will need to get extra sessions or extra patients but be proactive in booking the patients that you need to make sure that you get your requirements by the end of the year.
3. Job Applications and Interviews
Choosing where to apply for DF1 (Dental Foundation Training) can be a difficult decision but it is one you have to make relatively early on. If you are struggling, make a list of advantages and disadvantages of the cities/deaneries that you are considering. Talk to recent graduates like DF1s, DF2s, SHOs, etc that work at your school or elsewhere, as they’ve been through it all and can give you valuable advice. At the end of the day however, it will be your DF1 year and you need to think about the aspects which would or would not be important to you e.g location, distance from home, city life, expenses etc.
It can be confusing when writing a CV given the vast amount of internet pages devoted to it. Focus more on what a medical/dental CV should look like and don’t be afraid to ask a senior or a tutor to read it if you want a second opinion.
Set aside time to focus on interview preparation. Research the practice and think about the things they might ask you. Plan your arrivals in good time so you are not stressing about being late. Be confident (but never arrogant) and show them what you know, but bear in mind that there will always be unexpected questions at interview so just be yourself.
4. Essays, Assignments and Reports
Some schools require case reports to be done in addition to the Finals case you present. Get them written up as early as you possibly can. Think of it this way, you have to do it at some point, and it’s wiser to get a written assignment done and then focus on exam revision or job applications, than leave it to last minute and find yourself having way too much to think about.
First off, don’t panic or be afraid. The dental school is not there to get you or catch you out. Thousands of students have sat this exam and passed. When you sit down to revise don’t stress about how long ago you THINK you should have started, or how much you THINK others have done. Don’t think of the past, just knuckle down and use the time you have to good use. Balance the revision you need for the written papers with what you need to do for your case presentation.
With the Clinical Vivas (both your patient case presentation and the unseen), depends on your schools format, but if you really don’t know the answer it’s better to admit it and say for example that you would seek a second opinion or perhaps to ask them if they can come back to the question if there is time. Don’t blag it or waffle as they don’t want you to say anything dangerous, they want to see that you can practice dentistry safely.
It seems like a lot to do, but remember to give yourself breaks and time off because it’s vital you don’t burn yourself out. It just takes some planning and hard work but you will get through it and finally call yourself a dentist!
Good Luck to all of you in your final year!!!
Dr Hossein Amini BChD
DF1 (The London Deanery)
This article is reproduced on TeethGeek.com courtesy of TheYoungDentist.com – the website for newly graduated dentists in association with Dental Protection.