Being a practising dentist requires a unique mixture of skills. In addition to being able to perform complex medical procedures safely and effectively, a good dentist communicates well with patients, putting them at their ease and making the experience of having dental work done less stressful. Dentists also need to be good business managers and to balance the needs to have a successful practice with the need to ensure all patients get the best possible treatment.
Of all the medical careers available, dentistry fits with my own particular skills and outlook on life. I enjoy physics and maths and have a strong interest in technology and engineering but I am also very keen on biology and physiology and have a strong need to work in a caring profession. My A level choices include biology and physics but I chose economics as my third main subject as I also want to expand my business knowledge. To be able to combine all these skills by following a career that is highly respected in the community is also very important to me.
In order to find out more about dentistry and to make sure this was the right path for me, I approached two local dental practices and they have been very supportive. I have been able to complete a week of work experience at both and have been able to witness common and more complex dental procedures. I was able to see teeth whitening and other cosmetic procedures, including veneers being fitted and also a tooth being crowned. One of the dentists, with the patient’s permission, allowed me to observe a dental implant procedure and to see a patient being fitted for an orthodontic brace.
I was impressed at the way all of the dentists I have shadowed have been calm and have explained every procedure in detail to their patients. Most procedures done in the dentist chair these days are done without a general anaesthetic, so it is vital that patients feel relaxed so that the work can be done more easily.
The larger dental practice that I attended also gave me an insight into the commercial side of the business and told me that the economics and accountancy skills that I was developing with my economics A level would stand me in good stead when I started a dental practice of my own.
During my time at school I have been involved in the wider life of the school community, becoming a prefect in year 10 and helping regularly as a car park marshal and receptionist for school open days and parents evenings. I have mentored younger pupils in biology and have become a coach for those who are struggling with basic maths concepts. I have contributed to the sporting life in school too, playing in the football and rugby teams and helping to organise training sessions and circuit training to improve our fitness and performance.
During the last 6 months I have completed two first aid courses with St John’s Ambulance and have signed up for an advanced course early next year. This will enable me to assist as a first aider at the matches at our local football ground. This should give me good experience in dealing with the unexpected and I expect to gain the maturity to behave well in emergency situations.
My motivation and excitement for studying dentistry is high and although I know the course will be challenging, both technically and academically, I look forward to meeting those challenges and to becoming a good dentist.