The Association of Dental Groups (ADG) is a trade organisation for dental providers and employers who use a corporate/group business model to serve NHS/private patients across the United Kingdom.

Every year, they hold a bursary award competition open to all undergraduate dental students at any dental school in the UK. There are two main awards, one is focussed on Professionalism in Dentistry and the other is all about Innovation in Dentistry.


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My Title


This year (2018), I decided to enter the competition! It was the second competition I had entered, after having won my first award earlier this year with the British Society of Prosthodontics.

I first found out about these awards on offer through the ADG whilst a second-year dental student when a more senior dental student at my school won the top prize in the professionalism category. In fact, since 2015, two Barts and The London dental students have won the prize: Dr Amardeep Singh Dhadwal and Dr Ryan Howells. I became the third Barts and The London student to win 🙂

Professionalism is such an interesting concept that I am very passionate about. We cannot work as dentists without professionalism being deeply embedded into everything we do. Professionalism is a multi-faceted, dynamic idea that means different things in different contexts. There is no definitive definition of professionalism that is widely agreed upon.

There is no denying that one of the huge incentives that attracted me to enter this particular competition is the financial reward for the winner. The ADG was offering a top prize of ÂŁ1,000 for first place and ÂŁ750 for the runner-up! As students, we are all in financial hardship (some more than others) so any financial rewards are attractive! I said to myself upon making my submission, back in June, that if I won I would put the money towards purchasing a pair of dental loupes. Dental loupes are by no means cheap so the only possible way I would be able to afford any was to win this prize. So now, since winning I have stuck with my personal promise and will be going ahead to purchase a pair of loupes this month (look out for a post all about dental loupes coming soon).


Being Presented with my Award by Professor Trevor Burke!


There was no word limit for this award, which worked to my advantage because I always find it challenging to stick to a predefined word limit. Any of you who have read a few of my blog posts or even my Instagram captions will know how long my writing is. This award submission was no different, I ended up submitting an essay of almost 6000 words! Of course, I appreciate that style is also important so my essay had lots of headings, subheadings and the writing from paragraph to paragraph flowed nicely (at least I think so). Additionally, it is also important to note that I did plenty of research into professionalism as a topic area, not just related to dentistry, but also in healthcare as a whole and in the wider sense too. Since I had done research, I chose to include some references cited in my essay – I think this is very important to do.

I am not entirely sure if I am permitted to share my own submission in full, as I have not asked the ADG for their permission. However, keep reading this post as a bit later on, I will share my introduction section for anyone interested in reading through it.


Here is some information about the ADG Bursary Awards taken directly from their website:

Competition rules

This ADG undergraduate professionalism bursary award is open to all UK undergraduate dental students:

  • Dentists
  • Hygienists
  • Therapists
  • Clinical Dental Technicians

Two bursaries will be awarded; Gold ÂŁ1000 and Silver ÂŁ750. The application must be supported by a reference from a tutor at your training school. 

The professionalism domain has four major competencies:

  • Ethics
  • Professionalism with regard to patients
  • Professionalism with regard to self
  • Professionalism with regard to clinical team and peers

For guidance regarding professionalism within dentistry visit

How to Apply

  • Application instructions are available here.
  • Do not make statements or inferences which personally identify the applicant within the application text as all applicants will be assessed anonymously.
  • Entries will be judged by an expert panel.

The application consists of answering two questions:

  • Describe what the term “dental professional” means to you, ensuring that you cover each of the main domain headings?
    • Professionalism with regard to patients.
    • Professionalism with regard to self.
    • Professionalism with regard to clinical team and peers.
  • Describe a time and situation in which you have had to demonstrate dental professionalism and explain which aspect of the main domain headings were relevant in the circumstances?

The application must be supported by a tutor at your training school. The references of the shortlisted candidates may be contacted prior to the award.


For those interested in reading it, below is the Introduction from my essay.

Defining it can be challenging, but, the importance of professionalism is indisputable. As healthcare professionals who regularly interact with patients, dentists must always maintain high standards of professionalism. This extends beyond the clinical setting and into the individual’s personal life too. Professional attitudes are not enough, they must translate into professional behaviours with are tangible outputs for a dentist’s daily clinical practice and personal lifestyle. Despite us not being able to formalise a universal definition for the concept, there are legal, regulatory and disciplinary procedures established to govern our professional behaviour and punish our lapses with regards to it.

Dentistry is a vocational degree, therefore, all who enter into dental school to commence their training will eventually join the profession. As a dental student, I am constantly reminded of this responsibility to uphold the standards of professionalism that are intimately associated with the career path I have chosen to pursue. Professionalism is introduced as a concept with the undergraduate dental curriculum, taught formally through lectures, seminars and workshops and reinforced in the clinical setting but arguably is only properly learnt through each individual’s personal experiences.

The Oxford English Dictionary(1) defines professionalism as the “competence or skill expected of a professional”, where a professional is simply described as “a person engaged or qualified in a profession”. In dentistry, or within any healthcare domain (including medicine), this basic definition is not sufficient. A research report first published in 2011 by the Health and Care Professions Council highlighted that professionalism is a fluid concept that means different things to different people, in different concepts with no widely accepted single definition (2).

In this essay, I shall be seeking to explore the concept of professionalism in dentistry, referring to published guidelines, national standards, offering my own thoughts and opinions and referencing some relevant articles on this subject matter. Furthermore, to make this personal, I shall be describing a situation in which I had to demonstrate professionalism in a dental setting.

I will be covering what the term “dental professional” means to me, attempting to simplify the concept of professionalism by deconstructing it to be considered in terms of the different domains, which together comprise the different facets of professionalism that everyone (we, our patients and society as a whole) expects from dental professionals. The main domains covered here will be: professionalism with regards to patients, self and the clinical team (peers) as well as associations to the codes of ethics.

As individual dental professionals, we are all exposed to different situations in different settings involving different people, so, our experiences will often be dissimilar and so forth incomparable. Hence, it is agreeable to establish a dynamic concept of professionalism in dentistry, with common components, that assumes different roles in different scenarios.


I would definitely encourage students to consider entering the competition next year and I wish you all the very best of luck! You already learn lots about professionalism at dental school, so why not expand on this learning by writing an essay on the topic of professionalism in dentistry – I am sure you will learn more about professionalism in the process.


Thanks again to the ADG for supporting students with your bursary awards!

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