Analysis Clearly there are many similarities between the two and many applicants will probably have considered applying to medicine. This question therefore aims to check that you are fully committed to dentistry whilst also making sure you're aware of the details and aspects that separate it from similar professions.
Approach A good way to start would be to acknowledge there are similarities between the two such as them both being scientific subjects that involve directly treating people. Then go on to list some of the key differences and why these differences drew you personally to dentistry. Focus on the pros of dentistry rather than any cons of medicine. Here are some differences for you to consider:
Ability as a dentist to see a patient and offer treatment immediately.
More control over treatment options for dentists, for instance allowing longer time to treat a patient.
Opportunity to own and develop a business in dentistry.
Intricate dextrous work with an artistic element to improve aesthetics.
Can develop strong rapport with patients over multiple visits only available to a few specialities in medicine.
Opportunity to develop and practise a range of procedures in dentistry whereas specialising in medicine can limit the range of procedures you perform on a day to day basis.
Bring in examples of what you saw in your work experience and what any dentists have told you about the profession.
Example Answer The idea of studying more about human biology and anatomy and being able to use them to directly help people in medicine appeals to me as it does with dentistry. But I like the opportunity in dentistry to be able to diagnose and then take action to treat a patient manually whilst being able to form a good rapport with them. (A GP can arguably oversee treatment and form a rapport with a patient but doesn't operate whilst a surgeon rarely gets the chance to see a patient multiple times). I saw this during my work experience at an orthodontist where the orthodontist had time to talk to a woman who was conscious of the malocclusion of her incisors and understand her needs and then suggest a treatment plan. I also liked that a dentist could see healthy patients as well and provide preventative measures and advice to stop them becoming ill.
What do you know about our Intercalation programme?
Analysis This is a question designed to see if you have researched the course thoroughly enough. Whilst they won't expect you to know every detail of the course it's important to know the major features on offer.
Approach If you've missed this aspect of the course in your research and don't know what it is don't panic. Be honest, talk about the things you do know and like about the course and show an interest in what it entails.
If you do know, speak about it honestly, sound enthusiastic about it. Even better talk about a particular aspect of it that interests you.
Example Answer (e.g. Newcastle University) Intercalation means taking a year out of the main programme to study for an additional degree. I know at Newcastle there are a range of intercalation programmes. I really enjoy studying genetics and I'd love to learn more about it and do some research as part of the Biomedical Genetics BSc that's offered.
Analysis Some questions will test that you have done some basic reading around of dentistry and the current hot topics within it. In this case the interviewer wants to check you know what fluoridation is and the issues surrounding it. Many such topics are covered in the question bank but it's also worth checking the BDA and GDC websites for recurring news stories and issues.
Approach With any such question try to first define the basic elements, in this case defining fluoridation. Then state any issues surrounding it.
Example Answer Fluoride is beneficial as it fights tooth decay by decreasing the solubility of enamel in acids produced by the bacteria forming plaque. Fluoridation is the process of adding fluoride to a population's water supply to raise the naturally occurring fluoride level to 1ppm (part per million), the optimal level to decrease tooth decay.
(The only proven side-effect of fluoridation is dental fluorosis, mottling of the teeth due to disruption of enamel in developing teeth. However, this is mainly a cosmetic issue and only occurs with higher levels of fluoride. Despite the Department of Health, BDA and WHO all supporting fluoridation there are those who are against it hence why only 1/10 of the UK receive fluoridated water. Arguments against fluoridation sometimes cite studies that conclude it has other side-effects but the main issue is an ethical one. Adding fluoride to water means everyone has it regardless of preference and so it could be seen as medicating people without the chance to refuse it.)
Explain how the digestive system works to an elderly woman with little scientific knowledge.
Analysis These type of questions are designed to see how you can break down complex scientific information and explain it in a simple but non-patronising manner as you might have to when talking a patient through a procedure as a dentist.
Approach Think about the level of knowledge and understanding the individual (or group) has. Start by clarifying what they already know about the topic to assess how to pitch your explanation. Do not get too technical and use simple terms and analogies.
Example Answer "Food is partially broken down in the mouth by the teeth and saliva and then swallowed, travelling down the oesophagus - a tube that runs from the mouth to the stomach. In the stomach it is broken down further by digestive juices. The results then pass into the small intestine, the pancreas and liver release juices to help break down the food more and nutrients are absorbed into the blood along the intestines......"
You have been asked to water and look after your neighbours' tomato plant while they are away on holiday. Your neighbours were planning to enter it into a competition later this month but you've been busy and have forgotten to water it several times. On the day of their return you notice the plant has begun to wilt and doesn't look in good condition. Explain to your neighbours what has happened. Answer
Analysis This is scenario is about breaking bad news and apologising for a mistake. It is important to admit to making the mistake and apologise but the problem may not have been a direct consequence of your actions therefore do not be overly apologetic or offer to reimburse them. Be understanding of the fact that they are upset and offer your apologies. Do not be drawn into an argument even if you feel they are in the wrong. The actor may even cry, become upset or get angry and blame you, if this is the case allow them time to gather themselves and do not be afraid to sit in silence while they compose themselves. Use phrases such as "I'm sorry you feel that way" and "I can understand why you're upset" to empathise with them to diffuse the situation.
Approach Introduce yourself and explain what has happened Be honest and explain what has happened Apologise for not checking on the plant and watering it regularly Show empathy and explain that you are sorry for what has happened Ask the neighbour if there is anything you can do to help (though do not agree to anything out of proportion such as giving up large amounts of your time or reimbursing them a huge amount of money) Do not worry if the actor remains upset with you at the end of the scenario
Should obese individuals who have received liposuction be allowed to have surgery to remove excessive fat on the NHS, taking time and money away from others who need surgery? Answer
Analysis There is often no right answer for ethical dilemmas and it is more about thinking about the variety of facts that need to be taken into consideration and the implications of the potential decisions. It's ok to come down on one side of the argument rather than sit on the fence but be sure to still present a balanced argument for both sides.
Approach The key to all ethical questions is to present a balanced, unbiased argument. Don't get emotionally drawn in, try to to cite facts about the situation if you are aware of them (don't be afraid to make educated guesses - though don't phrase them as facts - or to ask for clarification on current rules and regulations).
Example Answer Most cosmetic surgeries aren't covered by the NHS but "tummy tucks" to remove excessive skin after significant weight loss are.
It's arguable that obesity is self-inflicted by lifestyle choice similar to liver disease in alcoholics or lung cancer with smokers. However, it could be reasoned that these choices are due to underlying self-esteem issues or poor education and so these patients should be treated with compassion.
Cosmetic surgery can also greatly enhance a patient's quality of life by vastly improving self-image. Aside from cosmetic reasons, excessive skin could have further health issues and so it may be important to remove it to prevent any other medical issues arising in such a patient.
Ideally NHS resources and surgeons' time should be taken up by patients in the most need; so an operation to remove a malignant tumour rather than surgery for mostly cosmetic reasons. That being said it's often not fair or simple enough to directly compare patients' needs and so equal priority and treatment is important whenever possible. In the case of conditions that are arguably self-inflicted it is important to develop preventative measures and first line treatment to stop the need for more expensive treatment later.