Exploring the career expectations, motivations and aspirations of UK orthodontic speciality trainees


Anecdotal evidence suggests that there have been changes in the career aspirations of orthodontic speciality trainees (STs), with fewer opting for higher specialist training beyond their third year and an increasing number of vacant consultant orthodontist posts. Understanding the expectations, motivations and aspirations of the future specialist workforce is critical to the ongoing delivery of the orthodontic service, particularly the treatment of patients with more complex problems.

What are we trying to find out?

We are exploring the career expectations, motivations and aspirations of orthodontic speciality trainees. We hope that this will provide some information to help address current difficulties with recruitment to higher orthodontic speciality training (ST4 and ST5).

In particular, we are gathering information to:

  • identify the factors influencing orthodontic ST’s career preferences;
  • find out if/how these preferences are shaped during dental and speciality education/training; and
  • generate proposals about how to attract ST1 to ST3s to pursue ST4 and ST5 training in sufficient numbers to meet current and projected workforce requirements in the consultant orthodontic service.

Phase one of the study is complete – thank you to everyone who participated in an interview. We’d now like to test our findings on a wider group of trainees to understand priorities further.

Who can take part?

We would like to invite current orthodontic speciality trainees, in any year 1 to 5, as well as anyone recently completing an ST5 post (within 6 months) to volunteer to take part in a focus group. We are hoping to include a range of trainees from all 5 years and all parts of the UK, so not everyone who volunteers to take part will be invited.

What will it involve?

If you are invited to take part it will involve taking part in a focus group, with up to 6 other trainees. The focus group will be facilitated by a researcher from Picker. Focus groups will all be conducted online, using Microsoft Teams and arranged at a time convenient to yourself.

The focus groups will last for up to 1 hour 30 minutes and participants will be given £40 as a thank you.

Register your interest

To take part in the screening survey to register your interest, go to – https://bit.ly/Orthodontic_trainees

Further details

Who is organising the research?

The research is funded by the British Orthodontic Society and coordinated by Professor Philip Benson (University of Sheffield). It is being conducted by Picker, a healthcare research charity based in Oxford, UK.


With your consent, focus groups will be recorded in Microsoft Teams to assist analysis only. No identifying information (such as names) will be included in any of the reporting, and your feedback will be kept entirely confidential. Results will be collated and presented in a summary report of the emerging themes from the data.

What will happen to the information that I share?

Picker complies with Data Protection Laws, including the UK General Data Protection Regulations and Data Protection Act 2018, and the Market Research Society’s (MRS) Code of Conduct, by maintaining certifications from the International Standardisation of Organisations. Any sensitive or confidential material is stored securely in line with Picker’s data protection policy.

All transcripts will be kept for six months, or until the research is complete. After this, the recordings are securely destroyed. No raw data will be shared with anyone outside Picker. No interviewee details will be shared by Picker with any Health Education England office, Deanery, NHS organisation, or the British Orthodontic Society. In reported findings, there will be no way to connect your participation in this study with your career.

We anticipate that the results of the study will be submitted for publication to the Journal of Orthodontics. No identifying information (such as names) will be included in this publication.

Do you have more questions?

If you have any questions about the research, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the following contacts.

Philip Benson (Professor/Honorary Consultant Orthodontics, University of Sheffield)
E-mail: p.benson@sheffield.ac.uk

Jenny King (Chief Research Officer, Picker)
Email: Jenny.King@PickerEurope.ac.uk

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