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University alumni welcome students to Dubbo

16 May 2017
Dentistry students welcomed to Dubbo on their rural placement

Dentistry students doing their rural placements in Dubbo were hosted at a ‘welcome dinner’ this month by University of Sydney alumni and husband and wife team, Dr Antonia Lalousis and Dr Amjad Aghdaei.

Dr Antonia and Dr Amjad met while studying dentistry at the University and decided to set up their practice in the bush after graduating.

The couple hosted the welcome dinner as a way to provide support and establish a connection for University students studying in Dubbo in the hope it will encourage them to consider working in the community after graduation.

Pro Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry Professor Heiko Spallek said it is important for the University to continue encouraging students to do rural placements due to the low number of health and medical professionals in the area.

“It is our obligation to the community to provide a comprehensive rural experience to encourage new dental graduates to work in remote and rural areas,” he said.

“By doing so we contribute to the health workforce development in rural and remote Australia through the training and career development of dental students.”

The University of Sydney Medical School already has a long history of training students in rural NSW, which is boosting local economies and the number of graduates who want to work as rural doctors.

By the end of 2017, nearly 1,000 of Sydney Medical School students will have done extended training placements at the University’s four regional centres.

Dr Antonia Lalousis said the welcome dinner was an opportunity to provide support to students in studying in the area as she knows it can often feel isolated.

“My husband and I decided to host the welcome dinner as we felt we could help the students. We’ve been working in this community for a while and we know it can sometimes be a difficult transition at first,” she said.

“We hope the event helps the students to settle in a little easier and encourages them to take up a position in rural and regional areas once they have completed their degrees.”

Three of the students who attended the evening are originally from the University of Toronto and have said they are looking forward to working in a rural, clinical setting.

“As a Canadian and an international student who hasn’t ventured very far from the heart of Sydney, I hope to learn more about the local culture and community whilst becoming a more independent dental practitioner,” said Deanna Lue.

“Creating equal opportunities for accessing dental care is extremely important, so being able to participate in providing such services is an invaluable experience.”

Fellow Canadian student, Mir Dawood said he was looking forward to working alongside the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

“I was very keen to participate in the Royal Flying Doctor Service that is offered in Dubbo – allowing me to travel to remote regions and serve populations that would otherwise be isolated from the dental world,” he said.

“I also wish to learn more about the adaptive nature of rural and regional dentistry. This area is different from the well-controlled, resourceful nature of student clinics in Sydney and I am looking forward to building my skills in a more adaptable environment.”

Yazdan Tavakkolijou who is also studying in Dubbo said he was interested in learning more about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and their oral health.

“I would like to know more about Indigenous people and their oral health status. Now that I am in Dubbo, I am really excited to work with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and I believe that is a very unique experience,” he said.

The University hopes this event will be the first of a number of future events welcoming students to rural and regional areas and encouraging them to take their careers to the bush.

To register your interest in hosting an event for our students undertaking a regional placement in Ballina, Orange, Bowral, Dubbo or Broken Hill, call (02) 9351 0467 or email dentistry.alumni@sydney.edu.au.

Elliott Richardson

Assistant Media Advisor (Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy)