May 15, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Are you are considering a career in dentistry but are not 100% sure if it is for you? You’re not alone. Unless you have a very clear vision of what career you want to pursue, it is only natural to feel some amount of uncertainty when making a decision as huge as this. Making the decision to become a dentist can be particularly difficult as this involves several years of study in a challenging program. The last thing you want to do is spend all those years in dental school only to realise that perhaps this was not the right fit for you after all.
One of the best ways to make sure that you are making the right choice is by gaining some work experience beforehand. You would think the easiest way to do this would be to request a dental clinic in your neighbourhood for the opportunity. However, you will find that this is easier said than done. Dentists who are reluctant to have a pre-dental student following them coupled with legal implications can make it extremely difficult to get any work experience at home. In fact, it is easier to get the requisite experience through a pre-dentistry work experience placement overseas.
At Gap Medics, we offer dentistry work placements in Tanzania, Chiang Mai in Thailand and in the Czech Republic. At all of these destinations, the experiences you will have are likely to be completely different from anything you would expect based on your visits to your dentist back home. You won’t find sophisticated equipment or advanced dental techniques at these clinics. Instead, what you will find here are dental clinics that are greatly under-resourced and ill equipped and too few dentists trying to provide proper dental care to far too many patients with meagre equipment.
Most patients who do make it to the dentist often have advanced dental problems. This is because their lack of finances prevents them from seeking regular dental care till it is absolutely unavoidable. Unlike many dental clinics back home, you will rarely see patients in these countries come in to visit a dentist to get their teeth cleaned or polished.
However, all of these challenges make these excellent grounds for expanding your dental knowledge, gaining firsthand exposure to global dental health issues and obtaining experience in treating cases that you would rarely see in Australia.
Another unexpected benefit of doing an overseas dentistry placement is that it will give you the competitive edge with your dental school application. Competition for university can be incredibly tough and with hundreds of applicants, all armed with stellar transcripts and recommendation letters, your overseas work experience can make the difference.