An Excellent Dentistry Pathway- Become A Dental Officer In The RAF

June 2, 2015

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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A Gap Medics student shadowing dentists at Hang Dong Hospital in Chiang Mai, Thailand As Dental Officer in the RAF you would be responsible for providing all RAF personnel with a complete suite of oral care treatments. Similar civilian roles would be a Dentist or Dental surgeon.

Typical responsibilities would include:

– Conducting regular oral checkups and dental screenings

– Providing a variety of simple treatments such as cleanings and fillings

– Carrying out advanced treatments for complex dental problems

One of the biggest benefits to becoming a dentist in the RAF is the sponsorship that is offered to selected dental students through the 5 years at dentistry university.

The Selection Process & Desirable Attributes

The Dental Officer selection process takes place over four days during which time you will undergo a basic medical examination, fitness testing, computer aptitude tests, a formal interview and leadership exercises. The leadership exercises are done both individually and as a team in the classroom and in a hanger.

The RAF is very discerning in their selection process.  During the admission interviews the selection committee look for candidates who demonstrate potential in a few crucial skills and personality traits. These include:

– Self-discipline

– Strong academic ability and a commitment to completing the lengthy and challenging degree course

– Manual dexterousness and technical dental skills

– The ability to stay focused for extended periods of time

– Outstanding communication and interpersonal skills when interacting with patients across all ages and backgrounds

– The ability to build relationships with patients and colleagues

– A genuine interest in the welfare of others and a sympathetic manner

– Excellent managerial and administrative abilities

– Above average information technology skills keeping digital records and accounting as well as for digital imaging of radiographs


Before you can practice as a Dental Officer you have to complete the Specialist Entrant and Re-entrant (SERE) course at the RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire. This training course is held over a period of eleven weeks and includes fitness development, military training and academic study as well as practical outdoor leadership challenges.

While experienced dentists go straight to their first posting after the SERE course, if you have joined the RAF straight after graduation and have no work experience, you will have to undergo a 12-month dental training programme where you will work alongside a highly-experienced trainer. This training programme is nationally recognised.

Ongoing Development Opportunities And Career Prospects Abound For Dental Officers In The RAF

You will start as a Flight Lieutenant on a Short Service Commission for a period of up to seven years and can expect to be promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader after five years accredited service. Experience in civilian practice may be counted when considering seniority.

If you would like to extend, you can then apply for a Medium Commission for a maximum of eighteen years.

Further promotion, to the rank of Wing Commander and beyond, is by competitive selection and you may apply for your commission to be extended until the age of 58.

During your service, you are allowed to undertake at least 10 sessions of postgraduate education every year. As you progress in your career you will also be able to work towards postgraduate qualifications in any of the advanced dental specialities.

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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.