Intended for healthcare professionals


Clear commitment

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 09 June 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3785
  1. Tom Moberly
  1. 1editor, BMJ Careers
  1. tmoberly{at}

Many doctors would baulk at the idea of embarking on another long vocational degree after finishing core medical training. At that stage in their working lives most trainees will be focusing on completing specialty training and seeking a consultant post or a partnership in a general practice—or on beating their own path towards a fulfilling career.

But, for aspiring oral and maxillofacial surgeons, dual qualification as a doctor and a dentist is essential. As Rory O’Connor and colleagues underline in their explanation of how to get into the specialty (, the pursuit of dual qualification “requires dedication, tenacity, and self sacrifice.” They argue that this effort offers a significant return on investment. “Correcting facial deformity and managing facial trauma and facial reconstruction are difficult and often complex, but the effect on a patient’s quality of life is profound and just reward for any surgeon,” they say.

O’Connor and colleagues point out that, as competition for surgical posts increases, many doctors are opting to undertake second degrees, sometimes of questionable direct benefit to their careers. “OMFS [oral and maxillofacial surgery] offers the opportunity to study another degree with the benefit that it is a recognised part of training,” they say. They also dismiss as a myth the notion that dual qualification means that training is “unacceptably long” in oral and maxillofacial surgery. “The average age of appointment to consultant is no higher than for other surgical specialties, because streamlining of training from specialty trainee year 3 compensates for the time taken to become dual qualified,” they say.

If aspiring surgeons are interested in pursuing a career in oral and maxillofacial surgery and have the stomach for a decade of study, the specialty’s dual qualification requirement does at least offer upfront clarity as to what is expected of trainees aspiring to consultancy.