Students Talk about the Bachelor of Dentistry

Why study Dentistry at the University of Sydney? We ask our students about their experiences studying the Bachelor of Dentistry.

Shiva, BDent 3 Student

What’s your background?

Just prior to starting BDent I was a stay at home mom completing my nursing degree. Before that I worked in a hospital lab in blood bank for two and-a-half years as a laboratory technician. I got my BS in Molecular & Cellular Biology in 2000 from the University of Arizona.

Why did you choose the Bachelor of Dentistry Program?

After graduating from Uni in 2000 I wanted to work a little before I decided if I really wanted to pursue a higher education.

In Jan 2004, my family and I came to Australia to visit my husband’s father and siblings. We just thought we would see if it was even possible for me to go to School here. I found out it was, that I had two days to meet the GAMSAT deadline and five weeks before I had to sit the exam. So, I went to Washington DC, sat the exam and came home with no expectations – I just remember thinking that I had done what I could and if it was meant to be then it would happen.

The results came and along with the other application forms in my packet was the application for Dentistry. Dentistry, for me, proved to be the balance between fulfilling my academic dreams and having a life where I could be a mom and wife!

What’s the course like so far - as you expected?

Yes, the course has been amazing. I think that as time goes on I am learning to appreciate it so much more and understand the importance of what we are doing. I feel that I have been presented with so much information and it has been fascinating to piece it all together, especially when things mesh in clinic. At the same time, I think that the periodic assessments have helped to alert me of the areas in my learning that I need to devote more time to and areas in which I need to get help. I feel grateful that I have been able to learn so much and have had the support of the Faculty along the way.

Any particular highlights?

The highlights have included:

  • The second time I had a patient. While the first time was a little nerve-racking I was amazed to see that by the second time I was so much more comfortable and couldn’t believe how much I had learned. It was amazing to see it all come together.
  • Surprising myself with my examination marks, the tooth conservation component being so high. I had such doubt that I could even drill , so I was shocked when I saw my grades. I remember asking if the “G” meant worse than fail, and then being so excited when my tutor told me that it meant good!
  • The confidence I had in clinical assessment component as I was able to answer question after question! I just couldn’t believe how far I had come in just one year!

I think that if one is passionate about becoming a dentist then the experience will be amazing, that the achievements will be so rewarding and the defeats will be recognized as opportunities for growth
What are your ambitions after you finish your degree?

While I haven’t decided whether or not I will return to the States, I think that wherever I go I will want to work with experienced dentists when I first graduate in a team setting and then consider opening a private practice some years down the line. I just think that the advice of experienced dentists is so essential that I would consider the opportunity to work in an established practice after graduation as invaluable. What I have learned so far is that practical application of what we are learning is so essential and so the more practice and guidance I can get the better.

What would you say to students considering the Bachelor of Dentistry Program?

I would say to do it…but, to do it if dentistry is really what you want to do. It is an intense course requiring a huge time commitment that has a lot of amazing ups and some challenging downs. I think that if one is passionate about becoming a dentist then the experience will be amazing, that the achievements will be so rewarding and the defeats will be recognized as opportunities for growth.

I would offer to any international students considering the program to do it for all the same reasons as the above, but to recognize that starting a new life in another country is a challenge in its own. Understand in your own mind the reasons for wanting to do dentistry and the reasons for wanting to do it in Sydney. Studying dentistry is an amazing opportunity on its own, but the experience of being able to do it in another country is one that may only come once in a lifetime. So I would say to all international students to consider the move to a new country as an exciting adventure that will expose you to things you could never imagine, making your experience as a dentistry student that much more enriching.