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FDS SAS Education Committee

The committee was created to support the education and career development of SAS grade (specialist, specialty dentist, associate specialist, staff grade, clinical assistant) dentists as part of the SAS strategy of RCS England following the Kennedy Review. This committee provides a platform for SAS dentists to contribute to the work of the Faculty and the College.

SAS and locally employed dentists make up over 20% of the NHS dental workforce, so supporting them in achieving their professional goals is vital. The first committee meeting was held in July 2022.

Who we are

The committee is made up of approximately 12-15 SAS dentists from different dental specialties across the UK, along with representation from the FDS board. Committee members do not have to be affiliated with RCS England/FDS to be members to encourage a wider breadth of SAS participants and promote inclusivity.

Current members are:

  • Anna Dargue – Chair, Associate Specialist in Oral Surgery, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS FT
  • Anoop Velath Kizaekka – Specialty Dentist in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Leeds Dental Institute
  • Emmanuel Egbase – Vice Chair, Specialty Doctor in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Fatima Maddix – Specialty Doctor in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Northwick Park and Central Middlesex Hospitals
  • Hiba Al-Diwani – Specialty Dentist in Paediatric Dentistry, Leeds Dental Institute
  • John Ho-A-Yun – Specialty Dentist NHS Fife
  • Jonathan Hoare – Specialty Dentist in Restorative, Charles Clifford Dental Hospital, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS FT
  • Mahesh Kotli – Specialty Doctor in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS FT
  • Miraj Shah – Specialty Doctor in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Paula Murray – Specialty Doctor in Orthodontics, Charles Clifford Dental Hospital, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS FT
  • Pete Brotherton – Associate Specialist in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Hull Royal Infirmary
  • Poornima Sakthithasan – Specialty Doctor in Oral Surgery, Eastman Dental Hospital
  • Sheena Vyas – Specialist Oral Surgeon, Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Thomas Hodson – Specialty Dentists in Restorative, Leeds Dental Institute
  • Victoria McAfee – Specialty Dentist in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Altnagelvin Area Hospital

What we do

Our aims are to contribute to FDS discussion and decision making on all issues related to the education and career development of SAS. We also collaborate with other FDS committees and RCS England groups to give voice to SAS dentists and ensure support for our development. We support the RCS England SAS strategy to unlock our potential.

Courses

Are you a specialty trainee, newly qualified consultant or a specialty trainee preparing for ISFE/Consultant role applications? Attend A week in the life of a consultant: Management and leadership in the NHS course held by the University of Liverpool on Friday 4 October 2024.

Find out more details, course fees and book a place now!

Working conditions

It is vital to understand your entitlements as a SAS dentist working for the NHS.

SAS Charter

The SAS Charter is a useful document and one to be familiar with, as it sets out what you can expect from your employer, and what they can expect from you. Make sure you review the SAS charter specific to your nation. 

As a minimum a SAS dentist should have:

  • a contract
  • an up-to-date mutually agreed and annually reviewed job plan
  • appropriate time for SPA (minimum of 1 PA for full-time SAS as specified in national terms and conditions 2008 and 2021, potentially more if you’ve taken on more responsibilities. Review your Trusts' guidance for detailed information on allowances)
  • annual and effective appraisals
  • support (induction, access to IT/pastoral/secretarial support)
  • opportunity for development (support and time for study leave, access to funding through NHS England on top of your Trusts’ study leave budget, SAS tutor/mentor, variety of clinical work to maintain and develop role)
  • involvement in management structures (encouraged and opportunities made available, leave given for external duties)

Annual leave

The national terms and conditions of a SAS set out the annual leave entitlement, however in summary for a full-time role:

  • first appt in SAS post – 27 days leave
  • once 2 years’ service as SAS/equivalent – 32 days leave
  • once 7 years’ service as SAS/equivalent – 33/34 days leave (this can depend on local agreements within your Trust)

Please refer to your own role and nation’s specific terms and conditions. The following links provide some general guidance.

Staff, associate specialist and specialty doctor contract (bma.org.uk)

Doctors’ annual leave entitlements (bma.org.uk)

Study leave

You are entitled to study leave for your professional development. This may include time for studying, research, teaching, examining or taking examinations, conferences and/or for training. For a full-time SAS, a maximum of 30 days over 3 years can be given. See your national terms and conditions.

(NB Further professional and study leave periods are available at the discretion of your employer. This is worth discussing with your employer in advance if you wish to take on a particular role or course which needs additional time away from the job.)

You should have a personal study budget available to you through your Trust. Further funding opportunities from your SAS development fund are available through your SAS tutor. Contact them directly to ask for further details. (There is usually an application form to complete, often with reference to your personal development plan.) Your local deanery also has funding available to SAS dentists through a bursary scheme. These funds are usually for postgraduate courses (clinical or non-clinical) which lead to a higher qualification that is relevant to your professional development. Do look at your local deanery website for further information on the application process.

SAS Dentists - Developing you

A SAS career can be a long and rewarding one. It is worth considering how you might want to develop and to put yourself in a good position for a more senior role. Here are some ideas for your portfolio.

Logbook

It goes without saying that your clinical skills will develop over your career as an SAS but having evidence to prove this is vital. Keep a logbook as, over time, this will show the increasing complexity of cases and autonomous working. Consider using the ISCP portfolio to keep a log of your cases and completed assessments, there is a fee to use this guide but it helps keep record of clinical skills.

Academic

Work towards relevant postgraduate qualifications. Find opportunities to present your work, whether this is locally, nationally or internationally. Publish in peer-reviewed journals and be a reviewer yourself.

Education

Take on a role to educate others, from hosting CPD sessions for your department to being a clinical/educational supervisor or even a Training Programme Director (TPD). A postgraduate qualification in medical education is worth considering to help develop your career. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges outlines some of the benefits in the SAS as Educators paper.

Mentoring

In a similar vein, mentoring more junior colleagues or finding a senior colleague to mentor you, can be very worthwhile and rewarding for both partners. These mentorships can improve morale and job satisfaction. This mentorship guide from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges is a useful reference to consult. 

The Royal College of Surgeons has also recently introduced a mentorship toolkit with best practice guidance available.

Leadership/management

Consider developing your leadership and management skills by taking on a local role in your department or trust, or even nationally. These can be a good place to get involved and find out if you enjoy these roles.

e.g. Clinical lead, appraiser, SAS role, secondment 

Research

If you are interested in research, find a colleague or network within your Trust to develop these skills. The AOMRC discuss the benefits of research in these recommendations to increase the role of SAS doctors and dentists in clinical research.

Audit and quality improvement

Get involved in audit/QI and find ways to improve your clinical service for patients and clinicians.

SAS development options - Courses to consider

The following CPD topics are highly recommended by the GDC: medical emergencies, disinfection and decontamination, and radiography and radiation protection. The GDC also recommends CPD in legal and ethical issues, complaints handling, early detection in oral cancer, safeguarding children and young people and safeguarding vulnerable adults.

Your local trust will normally provide training in these areas. The British Dental Association (BDA) can also provide training, more information can be found on the British Dental Association CPD pages.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England also provides courses to cover essential CPD topics found at this link: 

Below are some core topics which you can consider developing during your SAS career.

Leadership

In a SAS role, there are many opportunities to utilise leadership skills. This ranges from leading a team during daily clinical practice to supervising and training junior team members. The SAS role has an opportunity to influence and engage members of the wider team to promote a positive change and therefore developing leadership skills is invaluable.

Many courses are available from local trusts. The NHS Leadership Academy also offers courses.

Generic skills

An understanding of human factors ensures that as clinicians we offer an integrated, evidenced and coherent approach to patient safety, quality improvement and clinical excellence. Similarly, communication is a vital part of our generic skills and courses are available to further develop your skills.

Every decision we make as a clinician can have financial implications on the NHS. Therefore, understanding NHS finance and the impact our decisions make, can help us develop a more sustainable NHS.

Clinical skills

Depending on what specialty you are working in will depend upon what clinical skills you wish to develop. The RCS (England) offers a range of courses including CBCT level 1 and 2, management of the Cleft, Lip and Palate Patient, masterclasses in periodontics and orthodontics.

Sedation can be used in various specialties. Sedation, Analgesia and Anxiety Management for Dentistry (SAAD) offers courses to ensure the safe provision of conscious sedation. There are also several post-graduate qualifications available through Universities from Certificate to Diploma level.

Educational skills

SAS in a more senior ‘Specialist’ role are expected to be involved in teaching and training. This could be educating any level/type of staff from student dental nurses, therapists, hygienists, dental students through to DFT, DCT, StR or other SAS and Consultants. There are several courses available from ‘training the trainers’ to post-graduate qualifications available through Universities from Certificate to MSc level. Coaching and mentoring courses and qualifications can also broaden your skills.

Personal development and welfare

To enable development in a SAS role, reflecting on and learning from feedback are vital. Therefore, it is important we learn how to receive feedback well to enhance our future performance.

It is well known that a career in Dentistry can be stressful at times. We recognise the importance of mental health awareness and emotional intelligence. It is important to support trainees to improve self-care, manage stress and enhance resilience within the workplace. Local trusts can provide learning on mental health awareness. HL learning provide learning to all Health and Social Care Staff.

Quality Improvement

In a SAS role, you not only could lead QI projects to promote a positive change, but you may also supervise junior members of the team while they undertake a QI project. Therefore, knowledge and understanding of the process involved in a QI project is invaluable. Local trusts can provide training. Training in bronze, silver and gold levels can also be facilitated by the NHS improvement academy.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

Working in a SAS role, it is important to promote inclusivity within the workplace. The NHS has zero tolerance for bullying, harassment, and racism and therefore we have the responsibility to help create a workplace where people are treated with dignity and compassion. Local trusts can provide training as well as many organisations e.g. BDA or RCS (England).

RCS England ‘Professional Passport’

The professional passport is a new series of e-learning programmes that are available to members. These resources are being developed and the first two are now available on the website.

SAS Careers - Developing you

‘Specialist’ role

This role was created in 2021 following the introduction of a new contract for SAS and offers career progression for senior specialty dentists. A specialist can work independently in a specified area of practice and is a senior member of the multi-disciplinary team.

Minimum criteria for appointment are:

  • completed 12 years of dentistry since qualification
  • at least six years in their relevant specialty
  • meet the requirements for the generic capabilities framework

If you are considering applying for this role or have the support of your clinical lead/department to create this post, then forward planning and aligning your evidence with the capabilities listed, is worthwhile. The evidence needed will be that which you’ve used at previous appraisals. This could be multi-source feedback, patient feedback, log books, job plan, evidence of training/CPD/qualifications, audit and quality improvement, teaching, research, management and leadership roles etc.

You need to keep this evidence safe! This guidance document serves as a useful template for the kinds of evidence you can use to demonstrate you meet the requirements.

Specialist list

The option exists to apply to the GDC for assessment of an application (SLAA), based on academic or research work, for entry onto the specialist list.  Applications are assessed on whether the individual has acquired knowledge and experience in their specialty through academic or research work equivalent to a trainee undertaking and completing post-graduate training.

 24/4/2024 Update

The GDC want to clarify that there is no mandatory expectation of a masters for Oral Surgery or any other specialty for those going through the Specialist List Assessed Application route. We support individuals who wish to undertake a masters, but do not mandate this. We have not done so in the past and currently have no intention of doing this in the future. 

Further guidance is available on what kinds of evidence is needed.

Where to seek support as an SAS Dentist

Depending on the issue there are several places where SAS can seek support.

SAS Tutor

The tutor is employed by the medical education department. They provide support for professional and career development. They organise training events for SAS and oversee distribution of SAS development funding through a budget from HEE/NHS England. They can offer career guidance and access to coaching/mentoring.

SAS Lead

The lead is employed by the medical director and the role is funded by the Trust. If you have contract or work-based issues, then this is the individual to approach. They often represent the SAS at the local negotiating committee (LNC) meetings which Trust management and clinicians attend.

SAS Advocate

Some Trusts have appointed an advocate as recommended by the new 2021 SAS contracts. This is a new role to promote and improve support for SAS’s health and wellbeing. They are employed by the medical director and funded by the Trust.

Clinical Lead/Director

They are likely to undertake your annual job plan and lead your clinical service. If you are a senior ‘specialty dentist’ and are considering the move to a ‘specialist’ role, then engaging your lead/director and gaining their support, is very helpful.

SAS Colleagues

Other SAS in your department or in other departments within your Trust can be useful sounding boards and can offer advice if you are facing a difficult situation. It is always okay to ask others for advice, support and help.

Your SAS Team - Guidance for Consultant colleagues

If you are a consultant and are considering how to support the development of your SAS colleagues, then this advice is for you! The SAS charter is a useful document that sets out the rights and responsibilities of SAS dentists and their employers.  

Variety of clinical skill

SAS can have hugely varied levels of experience and abilities and it is this that offers challenges, but also great possibilities.

e.g. A newly appointed ‘Specialty dentist’ is a very different clinician to an ‘Associate specialist’ with 20 years of clinical experience who works autonomously.

Job plan and appraisal

Ensuring your SAS colleague has a suitable job plan which is annually reviewed and an effective appraisal, with the support for opportunities to successfully achieve their PDP, will go a long way to help their career development. As part of this, making sure they have a suitable allowance for SPA and a fair entitlement of study leave to undertake professional development is vital.

Support for development

Getting to know your SAS colleague and understanding their development needs in terms of their experience, the needs of the service and their career aspirations is also crucial.  SAS can struggle to access learning and development opportunities as they often have limited time available and cannot compete with trainees who are in recognised training posts.  They do still need time and your support to develop.

Extended roles

It is important to consider that it is not just clinical development that can be required. SAS can also take on extended roles in teaching, leadership and management, research, or developing and leading the clinical service. Please consider being an advocate for your SAS colleague to take on an extended role when in discussions with management. It can be difficult for senior SAS to get invited to the meetings where these decisions are made. The sky is the limit in terms of possibilities, SAS just need your support to make it happen!

Portfolios and evidence


Making sure your SAS colleague can record their clinical skills/experiences and participating in assessments (eg DOP’s, CBD) so they can demonstrate equivalence is also helpful.

This SAS report goes into greater detail in how to maximise the potential of SAS.

Useful websites and contacts

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