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Exploring how newly qualified dentists perceive certain legal and ethical issues in view of the GDC standards

Abstract

Introduction This study focuses on how the legal and ethical requirements presented by the General Dental Council (GDC) in their Standards for the dental team (2013) document are perceived by newly qualified dentists; that is, those who have been qualified for less than five years.

Aim The aim of the study was to investigate how the GDC guidance and the set standards for the dental team are perceived and understood by newly qualified dental practitioners, and how the guidance and the standards influence clinicians' decision-making. The study explored the newly qualified dentists' exposure to law and ethics, the GDC and their regulatory document, together with the clinical and non-clinical influence of this regulation on daily practice.

Methods Empirical qualitative data were collected using semi-structured interviews of nine newly qualified dentists, with an average of 80 minutes for each interview. The data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results Three main themes were identified through the newly qualified dentists' perceptions of the GDC selected standards. These included sense of fear, morale and the business of dental practice, with further subthemes identified.

Conclusion Results from this study present an opportunity and a challenge, as there is some fear and uncertainty among newly qualified dentists about the application of some of the GDC standards in practice. Further training in law and ethics as well as additional support for newly qualified dental practitioners is needed.

Key points

  • Explores how the GDC standards are perceived among some newly qualified dentists.

  • Highlights some of the challenges facing newly qualified dentists in interpreting the GDC standards and how it may influence their practice.

  • Offers a reflection on some legal and ethical aspects related to the implementation of the GDC standards.

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Correspondence to Hoda S. Wassif.

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Thakrar, B., Wassif, H. Exploring how newly qualified dentists perceive certain legal and ethical issues in view of the GDC standards. Br Dent J (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-021-2715-7

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