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20 February 2015
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Interview factsheet: 7 of 15 Andrew Atcheson
Andrew Atcheson
Job: Dentist
Name: Andrew Atcheson, Age: 27, From: Lisburn Quote  ‘You will need to develop a strong stomach from day one in dental school...’
Andrew Atcheson
Key Skills
5 out of 5Communication 5 out of 5Improving learning and ability
3 out of 5IT 3 out of 5Problem solving
2 out of 5Application of number 5 out of 5Working with others

The lowdown

After graduating from Queens University Belfast in July 2000, I worked as a Dental Assistant in Finch Dental Surgery in Andersonstown for two years until a Vocational Training position became available in August 2002.

Vocational training is required in order to be issued with a health service number so that a dentist can work for the NHS as either an associate or a principal of a practice. This training lasts for a year and allows the new graduate to ease their transition from dental school to the big bad world, while perfecting clinical skills and learning the business side of the job.

What you need

Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) degree

My typical day

I arrive at work for 8:45am, have a coffee while I look through my day list and prepare for the first patient at 9:00am. In a typical morning, I will see around ten patients and I will do check ups, fillings, crown preparations etc, depending on the treatment plans of the patients. Whenever I can, I also need to fit in anyone who is in pain. If a patient misses their appointment, I take the chance to catch up on some paperwork.

Lunch is from 1pm to 2pm and then it’s back to work, seeing another ten patients or so before heading home at 5:30pm. Occasionally I have to attend after-hours lectures for an hour or so on Monday or Tuesday evenings. This is to maintain my continuing professional development.

Dress code

My dress is fairly smart but casual e.g. jeans and t-shirt or shirt with a protective tunic over the top. Things can get hot and stuffy in a surgery on a warm day behind your mask. You need to feel comfortable yourself if others are going to be at ease when you are working on them. An air of professionalism will give a patient confidence in your ability. Some dentists go for a full suit and tie while others are completely dressed down. Ultimately, it’s your choice if you are your own boss.

Cash register £££££

You’ll get a lot of money if you specialise in a certain area of dentistry or have the necessary experience to charge private fees. You’ll get good money if you work hard under an NHS contract. You’ll get average money when you first start working.

Why I love my job

I enjoy working with people and taking away their pain and giving people the confidence to smile again. I love working with my hands and the fact I’m not stuck behind a desk all day. It’s generally nine to five!

Useful skills

Clinical skills, IT, problem-solving, initiative, confidence, communication, empathy

Spill the beans!

There is a legal requirement for every dentist to attend at least fifteen hours of lectures every year and to do at least thirty-five hours of professional reading in order to maintain their continuing professional development. Litigation against dentists is rising in frequency.

Top advice

Be prepared for a lot of debt (UK average = £10,000) by the end of your five years in dental school. Your A-levels will not be the hardest exams you will have to take, no matter what your teachers tell you! The best A-levels to take are chemistry, biology and either physics or maths.
The job can be both highly rewarding and highly stressful. You will need to develop a strong stomach from day one in dental school (not just for the social aspect of student life).

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