‘What do I need to do to get a training post?’ is a question often asked by those interested in specialising. There are several specific criteria that need to be met before applying for a training post.

The following information has been kindly borrowed with permission from the Specialty Trainees in Restorative Dentistry website (Found here). Although tailored for restorative dentistry applicants the majority of the information is relevant to all specialist training positions.

Fulfilling essential criteria is important for the development of skills necessary for Specialty Training; it also gives applicants an idea of the level of commitment required from a trainee. The greater breadth of experience prior to starting training, the more enjoyable and fulfilling the experience can be.

Below is a list of areas often covered in person specifications, job applications and interviews. The list does not cover everything and not all of it will be mentioned in every application. Each post will differ in terms of what is expected – speak to people who already do the job and who work in the Department you are applying to.


Qualifications and Academic Achievements

  • Dental Degree
    • Including any merits or distinctions.
  • Prizes
    • Undergraduate and Postgraduate.
    • The specialist society websites often have details of annual prizes.
    • This is no longer essential but is looked upon favourably.
    • The Royal Colleges’ websites will have more information on these exams.
    • There is no preference as to which college – research the individual colleges and choose which is best for you. This may be influenced by the area of the country you wish to obtain a Registrar post as you will be able to access the facilities more readily.
  • Postgraduate Degrees
    • A postgraduate degree such as a Masters or a PhD is not essential for applying for a training post. Some institutions include doing a further degree as part of training but many candidates choose to complete one (normally a Masters) prior to starting. The knowledge and experience a further degree provides can be advantageous with some aspects of training. Conversely lots of people successfully complete NHS Registrar posts without doing further degrees. (Please note further degrees will definitely form part of the application process and/or training for Academic Registrar posts.)
    • Prospective Academic Registrars need to have a good understanding of postgraduate research and have experience in the research process – this may be in the form of a research degree.

Previous Employment

It is essential that all candidates complete 2 years of Core Dental Training (CDT1 & CDT2 or equivalent). Following this, most candidates continue into Career Development Posts/CDT3 (previously SHO posts) in Secondary Care. Some person specifications state that four years postgraduate clinical experience is required.

Below is a list of recommended rotations/posts to develop valuable skills that will also strengthen an application for training in Restorative Dentistry specifically-

  • At least 1 Restorative Dentistry rotation or the specialty that you are interested in training in.
  • At least 1 Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery rotation – preferably with:
    • On-call duties
    • Oncology
    • Experience in other specialties, for example:
      • Paediatric Dentistry
      • Orthodontics
      • Oral Medicine
      • Special Care Dentistry
      • Dental Public Health
      • Oral Surgery
      • Experience in Primary Care:
        • General Dental Practice
        • Community/Salaried Dental Service

Nick Lewis provides us an overview of the key attributes required for specialist training in the video below.

Clinical Experience

  • Log book – keep a record of procedures.

Commitment to Specialty

It is advisable to join the specialist society to which you hope to become a trainee in and contribute or at least attend meetings to get a grasp of the contemporary issues faced by the specialty and to show commitment.

Some of the Societies most relevant to Restorative Dentistry are:

  • The Specialist Registrars in Restorative Dentistry Group (SRRDG)
  • The British Society of Restorative Dentistry (BSRD)
  • The British Society of Prosthodontics (BSSPD)
  • The British Endodontic Society (BES)
  • The British Society of Periodontology (BSP)
  • Ensure projects have some relevance to Restorative Dentistry.  


Personal Skills

Below is a list of skills applicants should be able to demonstrate when applying for a training position. Think about examples of situations where you have demonstrated these skills and also examples where you could have used these skills more effectively.

  • Communication (verbal and written)
  • Teamwork (committee work, multi-disciplinary cases)
  • Organisational abilities
  • Initiative
  • Coping skills (difficult situations, not going to plan, stress)
  • Professionalism
  • Time management
  • Leadership

Continuing Professional Development

  • Attend courses/study days relevant to Restorative Dentistry.
  • Read journals relevant to Restorative Dentistry.
  • Core subjects.

Research and Teaching

Experience in these areas is useful for all types training posts, but are particularly important for Academic posts.

  • Research
    • Research projects
    • Have some ideas for research projects that would interest you.
    • Be aware of the components of research governance.
    • Also be aware of the research interests of the University you are applying to.
    • Evidence of published work – this can include case reports.
    • Teaching
      • There are different ways you can get teaching experience: clinical supervision for undergraduates, dental nurse teaching, peer group teaching or arranging lectures.
      • Get formal feedback on teaching sessions you deliver.
      • Be aware of the different ways teaching can be delivered, for example problem based learning (PBL).



  • Evidence of completed audit cycles which have had an impact on clinical practice and showed a substantial improvement.
  • Audit is part of clinical governance. Know what clinical governance is and be able to demonstrate involvement.


Achieving a publication is one of the more difficult tasks. It is looked upon favourably and can be regarded as essential in order to be shortlisted for interview. At this stage (unless you have completed a PhD or Masters degree) employers are not expecting you to have published groundbreaking research – Case Reports, Audits or Surveys are often sufficient.

  • Peer Reviewed
    • These can be time consuming but will strengthen an application.
    • Non-Peer Reviewed
      • This can include letters, published poster abstracts and book reviews.



Aim to have experience of doing oral presentations and poster presentations ideally at local, regional, national and possibly international meetings.

Examples include:

  • Poster and oral presentations at conferences.
  • Presentations at departmental meetings.
  • Regional meeting presentations e.g. BDA meetings.


Other places for information

(Offsite liks open in a new window)

(Note that this would be considered essential reading for an application and interview for a Registrar post.)

The above information has been obtained from http://www.restdent.org.uk and can be found here  on the SRRDG website.