Why did you choose to study dentistry?
I was always interested in studying a health science course, but was unsure about the exact field. Having had a great family dentist growing up, I was left with such a positive perception of the profession and thought that it could be something that I would really enjoy doing.
What is the best thing about your course?
Dentistry is hard work, but it can also be very rewarding. It’s amazing how a person’s dental health and appearance can influence their self-confidence. Knowing that I have helped to take people out of pain, improve their wellbeing and given some patients the confidence to socialise and smile is very satisfying. There is also a large emphasis on practical classes and clinical experience, which gave me the opportunity to live in areas where I might not normally have the chance to visit and experience. I love interacting with patients in a real clinical setting — it’s a great way to get an idea of what it is like working as a real dentist.
What is the worst thing about your course?
The workload of the course cannot be underestimated, particularly in the last few years. As great as it has been to be on rotation, it also presents its challenges. With travelling around so often and being on full-time placement, as well as having study commitments, holding down a part-time job or finding time for a social life can be difficult. Financially, the course has also has a number of large expenses.
What does your course involve?
The earlier years of the course involve mostly lectures, some tutorials and plenty of pre-clinical experience (on mannequins with plastic teeth). The first year also involves anatomy classes in a wet lab with cadavers, which is an interesting experience. Clinical experience begins in third year, with occasional lectures and tutorials.
What are your prospects after graduating?
There are many opportunities after graduating, working publically or privately as a general dentist, in many areas around Australia or abroad. I am hoping to stay in a regional or rural area, where dental positions are currently more readily available.
What advice would you give to students considering studying dentistry?
Be prepared for the course expenses along the way and making sacrifices to prioritise placement and study. For those with sporting commitments, children or part-time work commitments, moving town so often can add some strain to day-to-day life. In relation to looking for work after graduating, it’s important to find a workplace where you feel comfortable and can be supported by good mentors.
Will you complete further study?
At this stage, I don’t have the intention of completing postgraduate studies, but regular study courses are still required as a general dentist to constantly update knowledge on the latest treatment approaches and products available. To be the best dentist you can be, you will always need to continue to study and learn!