Oral pathology in the UK is a dental specialty. Responsibility for the dental specialties lies with the General Dental Council (GDC). The curriculum for specialist training programmes in oral pathology is approved by the GDC and is as follows.
The discipline of oral pathology is a clinical specialty, undertaken by laboratory-based dentists, which is concerned with the diagnosis and assessment of diseases of the oral and maxillofacial region. It is a branch of histopathology and, in common with medical histopathologists, oral pathologists provide reports based on interpretation of tissue biopsies of varying types and of surgical resection material. The main method of examination of specimens is by light microscopy, but this is supplemented by other techniques as appropriate, such as immunocytochemistry and electron microscopy.
This document indicates the breadth and depth of the specialty of oral pathology. The majority of specialists are senior academics with honorary consultant status, based in dental schools, and the majority of trainees will be competing for such posts. Academic trainees will require for their advancement to obtain higher academic degrees related to proficiency in research, as well as specialist training in oral pathology.
Distinctive features of oral pathology
The recognised higher specialist qualification in oral pathology is the Membership of The Royal College of Pathologists, obtained by examination. Holders of the MRCPath who have held the diploma for eight years are offered the Fellowship of The Royal College of Pathologists.
Oral pathology is a dental specialty. Formal recognition of the status of specialist oral pathologists is the responsibility of the GDC and this allows inclusion of individuals on the oral pathology specialist list. The GDC delegates responsibility for specialist training to the Joint Committee for Specialist Training in Dentistry (JCSTD). This responsibility is exercised through Specialty Advisory Committees (SACs) for the individual dental specialties and these report to the JCSTD. The SAC for the Additional Dental Specialties is constituted to take responsibility for the four additional dental specialties, these being oral medicine, oral pathology, dental and maxillofacial radiology, and oral microbiology.
The award of the MRCPath in oral pathology, by examination, to dentally qualified candidates is critical in maintaining the training and standards of oral pathology as the equivalent of all other branches of pathology. The conduct of examinations for Membership of The Royal College of Pathologists in oral pathology is the responsibility of The Royal College of Pathologists.
The responsibility for educational approval of oral pathology training programmes and posts is exercised by the SAC for the Additional Dental Specialties. There is College representation on the SAC for the Additional Dental Specialties. Approval of training programmes by The Royal College of Pathologists is essential in order to ensure that approved programmes meet the requirements for entry to the MRCPath examination. The appointment of the educational supervisor for individual trainees is the responsibility of the SAC for the Additional Dental Specialties, taking advice as necessary from the relevant postgraduate dental dean.
The Dental Postgraduate Deanery, which is responsible for the appointment of trainees to training programmes, is responsible for the annual assessment of trainees through the RITA process.