Dentistry and Dental Care Professionals
There are often opportunities to gain experience of research as a dentistry/DCP student. Some dental degree courses require completion of a research project and there is no reason why this couldn’t be education focused. See if your school has an active education research group to identify a member of staff who would be willing to talk to you about your research ideas and possibly supervise you.
If there is not a defined education research group it is still likely that there will be staff within your school with an interest in educational research, even if this is focused on evaluating current and or new teaching practices and models.
If you don’t have to complete a research project as part of your degree requirements there may be other opportunities to undertake educational research – for example vacation scholarships or internships, or intercalated research degrees. Some of these may even pay you a small salary/stipend.
The key starting point is to identify a member of staff who is interested in educational research and see if they would be willing to supervise you.
There are also opportunities for students to present their research at meetings, such as the Association of Dental Education in Europe. The annual ADEE conference takes place at the same time as the European Dental Students Association meeting. The International Association of Dental Research holds an annual meeting and has a dedicated Education group.
As a student there are also opportunities to get your work published for example in the BDJ Student.
As a newly qualified dentist you will most likely need/want to complete a year of dental foundation (DFT) or vocational training (VT). There may be opportunities within DFT/VT to become involved in educational research, but this may depend on the specifics of the post. For example, some two-year General Professional Trainee posts now incorporate dedicated sessions allocated to research. These posts tend to be within NHS Trusts linked to Dental Schools, many of which will have active educational research groups. It may therefore be possible to link in with an existing project or find a senior colleague who would be happy to mentor/supervise you.
Having completed DFT/VT you may wish to aim for a Fellowship from NIHR as part of the Integrated Academic Training (IAT) programme for doctors and dentists. The purpose of these fellowships is to allow you to continue to develop your clinical skills (75% of your schedule) whilst also gaining research skills and developing your research interest (25%). There are also other Fellowships outside the IAT that might be of interest to you, including In-Practise Fellowships, Academic Clinical Fellowships and Fellowships for All.
If you have an interest in education and educational research you may wish to consider undertaking a formal qualification in Education/Clinical Education. This will give you a good understanding of educational theory, and at masters level will include an element of educational research.
Dental Care Professionals (DCPs): Post-graduate/post-registration
NIHR fellowships are available for DCPs to undertake formal research training through the HEE-NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic Training programme which offers programmes starting at internships. The career structure for academic DCPs in education is not currently as structured as that for dentists, but posts may be available in Universities that provide dental courses for DCPs, and through educational roles in Health Education England.