Shadowing a Doctor

May 22, 2015

Training to be a dentist requires more than simply learning dental theory and excelling in practical dental skills. It is equally important for all dental graduates to meet the high ‘fitness to practice’ standards as laid down by the General Dental Council (GDC).

These guidelines cover all attributes that are considered essential in dental professionals, from physical fitness and overall health to criminal records. This fitness to practice clause was introduced as a way to oversee that members of the public are not at any risk when they come to you for treatment.

In order to ensure that all students who graduate from their institution meet the GDC’s standards, dental schools assess all applicants against these three criteria:

  • Occupational Health
  • Health
  • Criminal Records

This is in addition to all of the other qualifying criteria including your academic grades and your performance at the interview.

Occupational Health

Having a disability does not disqualify you from applying to dental school. It could however hamper your ability to meet the rigorous demands of a dental course. If you have a disability could potentially hinder your progress, you should arrange for a consultation with the school authorities as early as possible in the application process. This meeting with allow you and the school to review your disability and discuss the implications. During this consultation, the school would also outline the assistance they would provide and what adjustments can be made to meet your needs so you can successfully complete the course.


All applicants to dentistry must necessarily undergo standard health clearance. This involves providing evidence of immunisation against (or immunity to) tetanus, diphtheria, rubella, measles, polio and mumps.

In addition you will also have to undergo Tuberculosis screening as well as blood tests to test for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, chickenpox and HIV antibodies.

Where indicated additional immunisations may also be offered including BCG (Tuberculosis), MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) and Varicella.

A dentistry work experience student observing her mentor performing a routine procedure.

Criminal Convictions

When applying to dental school, all applicants must declare any criminal offences on the UCAS form. If there is any declaration, it will be further explored by the authorities before you are granted admission. You will also have to undergo a PVG check or a Protection of Vulnerable Groups check.

Having a conviction does not necessarily mean you will be barred from the profession. All applications with a criminal offence are individually considered. However, candidates with serious criminal convictions may be refused entry on grounds of being ‘unfit to practice’.

If you are unsure about a declaration, you can contact the Admissions Office of the dental school for any clarifications.

If you have any disability, health issues related to the above conditions or a criminal conviction, it is important not to try to keep it hidden and hope nobody will notice. It is far better to declare it so the authorities are aware and can help you find your way around the restrictions, if possible.

Failure to declare information that directly relates to your Fitness to Practise will result in the termination of your dental school course.