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Professional behaviour as a dental student

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Professional behaviour as a dental student

Recent guidance from the GDC has focussed attention on to the professional behaviour that is expected from Dental students both in and out of dental school. You may not yet be qualified however your behaviour will be measured against standards that apply to the profession

Funny isn’t it that when you speak to any of us oldies they always say that their time at university was the best time of their lives and they wished they could do it all again.  The problem is that as we all get older the “retro-scope” usually develops rose tinted lenses and we forget the man hours of studying and revision and that very particular pit of the stomach feel during exam time.

However following the very last exam, you are hopefully going to be able to let your hair down and enjoy a period of rest and relaxation before galvanising yourself to become a “professional person”.  You may consider that whilst you are a student and not registered with the GDC you will only become involved with them upon the successful completion of your finals.  You may be aware of disciplinary issues that have affected yourself or other colleagues within the university or college during the period of training and consider that any misdemeanours are handled in-house.  This is not always the case.

Under new guidance from the General Dental Council, dental student’s behaviour should be measured against the principle set out in Standards for Dental Professionals.  If a student’s behaviour falls below these expected standards the educational provider may question the individual’s fitness to practise and if so consideration needs to be given to a formal process.

With such a process in place students need to be aware of the principals of professional behaviour which is expected of them.  The General Dental Council’s own guidance lists these as:

•    Putting patients interests first and acting to protect them,
•    Respecting patient’s dignity and choices,
•    Protecting the confidentiality of patient’s information,
•    Cooperation with other member’s of the dental team and other healthcare colleagues in the interest of patients,  
•    Maintaining professional knowledge and competence and being trustworthy.

It is clear that a dental student carries far greater responsibility than their student colleagues on other courses.  Responsibilities of a dental student will commence from the moment they register with the university and enrol on to the course.  Apart from professional behaviour in relation to the care of patients the expectation is that this behaviour extends to an individuals personal life.  Students are expected to be honest and trustworthy and act with integrity.  Behaviour in all walks of life and at all times needs to justify the trust placed in the dental profession by the patients and the public.

It is important to reflect upon ones own decisions and behaviour in order that your future career is not compromised before it has started.   As many of you will be aware any caution or conviction given by the Police will be brought to the attention of the General Dental Council and any behaviour that may impact upon the fitness to practise, whether it is with patients or outside the clinical environment may also result in the General Dental Council’s procedures whist still a student.

The advice to prevent such unwanted attention is to avoid placing yourself in a situation which may compromise your position and aim to follow the “Standards for Dental Professionals.” Please remember that your relationship with the General Dental Council does not commence on receipt of your BDS or equivalent, it commences before Freshers Week.

Dental Protection has more than 50 dento-legal advisers to support you if you receive a complaint.
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