Getting started as an FD

Fiona Mackay FD

We will be speaking to Fiona Mackay throughout her journey as an FD at Wallingford House Dental Practice. We caught up with her just one month into her training.

A new life

When asked about the biggest difference between life as a dental student and life in practice, Fiona said:

“Every decision is suddenly on your shoulders. You have to make sure that you’re completely happy with what you’re offering the patient. You can confirm your diagnoses and treatments with your Educational Supervisor, but the onus is on you to ask for the support.

“In addition, you’re always surrounded by people you know and friends in university, and it’s an adjustment to go from this to having a much smaller practice team around you. However, my team are lovely which helps with the transition!”

Settling into FD training

Starting the next phase in your career is always slightly daunting. Being prepared is important if you are to make the most of the opportunities that become available.

“I knew very little about working with a group, but so far I have come across several benefits with Rodericks,” Fiona says. “The induction specifically for FDs provided useful information and it was good to meet other FDs in the group. Rodericks also offers free training days in core areas which will help me refresh and gain knowledge.

“So far, it has been mostly as I expected in that I see more patients than I did in university. I also have great support from my Educational Supervisor and team – there’s always someone to turn to.

“I have found talking to patients about money to be a steep learning curve. This is completely new as I didn’t need to address the topic with patients in university. I’ve learnt how to discuss fees in an objective way. In fact, I’ve found patient communication in general to be extremely important in practice. For example, when asking an Educational Supervisor to check my work or provide a second opinion, communicating this to the patient in a way that doesn’t cause them to lose faith in me is crucial. It’s just a second opinion.

“In terms of the clinical dentistry, I find endodontics to be most challenging. We don’t get a lot of experience in this area at university so I’m looking to develop my skills and confidence. The Educational Supervisor is always on hand to help but sometimes this can involve a wait as they have patients of their own to look after.”

Developing skills and confidence

Having developed so much already, Fiona is looking forward to what the future holds.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know the team a bit better. Also, I hope to improve my clinical skills and my use of the materials in the surgery. I already feel better with the routine than I did 4 weeks ago and I am more comfortable with my patients. I’m excited to see how far I can go in a year.”

Finally, Fiona offers some advice for future FDs:

“I was lucky to come into the scheme with someone I knew, so we house share with another person. If you don’t know someone already in your scheme, I would highly recommend looking for shared accommodation. Either ask other FDs on your scheme or live with people outside the profession – it can be refreshing to get home from work and talk about something other than dentistry!”


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