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Keywords:

  • vocational training;
  • graduates;
  • attitudes;
  • Ireland

Abstract

Introduction:  Vocational training (VT) is a mandatory 12 month period for UK dental graduates after graduation. Graduates of Irish Dental Schools are eligible to enter the general dental service in Ireland or obtain an NHS performers list number in the UK immediately after qualification. Reports would suggest that some graduates of Irish Dental Schools are choosing to take part in VT in the UK and find the experience beneficial. This study aimed to record the uptake of VT amongst recent graduates from University College Cork and to document their experiences. It was designed to compare the attitudes and experiences of graduates of Irish Dental Schools who undertook VT compared with those who entered the general dental service.

Method:  A self-completion questionnaire was distributed by e-mail to dental graduates from University College Cork who had graduated 2001–2007. Responses were returned by e-mail or post.

Results:  The response rate was 68.9%. There has been an increase in the numbers of graduates taking part in VT each year since 2004. 92.5% of Vocational Dental Practitioners (VDPs) found their experience beneficial as they received a guaranteed source of income, had a supportive peer network and worked in a positive learning environment. However, some felt that they earned a lower income than their associate colleagues, others found the pace of practice slow and that the duration of the training period was excessive. Eighty-five per cent of VDPs would choose the same position again after graduation as compared with 61.8% of associates (P < 0.001). Ninety per cent of VDPs would advise current undergraduates to take part in VT as compared with 51% of associates (P < 0.001). A larger proportion of VDPs had taken part in postgraduate studies but there was no significant difference between the two groups.

Conclusions 

  • • 
    Larger proportions of recent graduates are undertaking vocational training
  • • 
    The majority of VDPs and associates find their initial employment position beneficial
  • • 
    VDPs benefit from a guaranteed source of income, a supportive peer network and a positive learning environment
  • • 
    Some associates suffered from a lack of support, feeling isolated and overwhelmed with patients
  • • 
    The majority of previous VDPs and associates would recommend VT to current undergraduates
  • • 
    Almost 40% of associates would now choose to take part in VT if given the opportunity.