GDC reviews ‘preparedness for practice’ and ‘professionalism’ in dentistry

News Published: 
1 October 2020


The Faculty would like to raise awareness of two independent reviews, carried out between July 2019 and March 2020, which were recently published by the General Dental Council (GDC). The first of the wide-ranging reviews examines ‘preparedness for practice’ of UK graduate dental professionals, and the second looks at ‘professionalism’ in dentistry and other healthcare professions.

The two reviews were undertaken in parallel by a project team under the auspices of the Association for Dental Education in Europe (ADEE), led by Emeritus Professor Jonathan Cowpe FFGDP(UK), with evidence from the review on ‘professionalism’ referenced in the ‘preparedness for practice’ study.


Preparedness for Practice of UK Graduates 2020

Key findings from the ‘preparedness for practice’ review, conducted by rapid evidence assessment (REA), suggest that new graduates are, in general, less prepared in more complex tasks such as treatment planning, crown and bridge procedures and endodontics. The report notes that some education providers found it difficult to find sufficient cases for more complex treatments, which could be due to changing demographics and the diversity of dental disease, but it could also relate to curriculum constraints.

Findings also highlight the importance of integrated, patient-centred teaching in a variety of settings, supported by structured quality control management, in preparing graduates for professional practice.

Team leader, Professor Cowpe, commented: “The transition of a new graduate into the working environment can be a monumental step. So, closer engagement across stakeholders, including those in undergraduate and postgraduate education and training, the regulatory body, and employers, is required. This significant point was raised in this review and at stakeholder events.”

The full report is available here.


Professionalism: A mixed-methods research study

The mixed-method review on ‘Professionalism’ covered all aspects of a dental professional’s career, including the periods of undergraduate and postgraduate training. Many FGDP(UK) Members contributed to the review by completing a survey circulated by the Faculty, which received over 1000 responses in total. 

Review findings suggest that the public consider a practitioner’s interactions and communications with patients to be key to professionalism, as well as good clinical skills, joint decision making and providing a safe environment. Interestingly, there are variations between the perceptions of dental professionals and members of the public, about what constitutes professionalism, and in some respects members of the public took a more lenient view. 

Whilst the study didn’t provide answers about the best way to teach or learn about professionalism, it found that aligning theory with practice and experiencing real life scenarios were considered to be pivotal.

Discussing further key findings, Professor Cowpe said: “One of the major influences on professionalism, highlighted, was the importance of the context in which professional behaviour is interpreted. A one-off lapse, with minimal implications, which was out of character was understandable by professionals and patients alike, as long as the individual learnt from this experience and could personally move on.

“Dwelling on a lapse, by a professional, rather than learning and moving on was seen by all concerned as detrimental to that professional both from a mental and a clinical service provision point of view”.

The full report is available here.

Additional information relating to the developments in approaching the issues of professionalism and the wider thematic review of preparedness for practice  was published by the GDC in August 2020 and is available on the GDC website.