Dental Dean Professor Richard Ibbetson with his regular column
The Fellowship in Dental Surgery is the one of the highest awards that the College can make to a dentist. Many of you will have seen the publicity surrounding the new route to the Fellowship in Dental Surgery without Examination. The FDS RCS(Ed) is now open to holders of Specialty Dental Membership Qualifications of any of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons.
I suspect that there are some who are wondering why we have done this: was it simply a revenue-raising scheme? The reasons are in fact rather more important than the financial. Those colleagues who are likely to be most concerned about this initiative are probably those who are holders of the Fellowship in Dental Surgery by the pre-1997 ‘sweat, blood and tears’ route. For many of us, the old FDS RCS was a distinct challenge and to pass it was one of life’s great professional achievements. People like me were usually able to sit the Final FDS around three years after graduation, sometimes a little earlier and sometimes later. In the UK, the passing of the FDS was indicative of someone who had completed some further postgraduate training and might then proceed on through senior registrar training to become a consultant in their chosen discipline.
So why did we decide to open access to the FDS RCS(Ed)? The introduction of the Specialist Lists in 1997 was accompanied by discipline-specific Specialty Membership qualifications. The majority who undertake specialist training exit having completed the MFDS / MJDF and a College Specialty Membership. Very few people in the UK complete five-years of training and sit the specialty-specific Inter-Collegiate Fellowship in Dental Surgery Examination.
The loss of the old FDS RCS(Ed) examination has caused a problem for your Dental Faculty. Our College functions and Dental Faculty activities require Fellows because the College Laws require dentists to be Fellows in order to hold office or become members of Dental Council. The past 15 years have seen a steady decline in the number of Dental Fellows. Without addressing this, the eligibility of colleagues able to support our work at the highest level would continue to fall. We could have changed the College Laws, substituting ‘Specialty Member’ for ‘Fellow’ but this would have led to a loss of parity between the Dental Faculty and the Surgeons within the College.
The over-riding essential of the new route to the Fellowship in Dental Surgery without Examination is that it gives a much greater opportunity for involvement with the Dental Faculty. We look forward to welcoming those of you who hold Specialty Dental Membership Qualifications* from any of the surgical Royal Colleges as Fellows in Dental Surgery of The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. Details of the entry criteria and the application process can be found on the College website.
*A Specialty Dental Membership qualification corresponds to one of the dental specialties described by the UK’s General Dental Council.
Richard Ibbetson Dean, Faculty of Dental Surgery