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Is dentistry a good career

Is dentistry a good career?

Insights from a dentist
Published 10 Aug, 2023  ·  5-minute read

If you're someone who loves science, helping others and paying attention to the little things, then working as a dentist may be something you’ve considered. But is dentistry a good career choice?

To get the inside scoop, we spoke to practising dentist and UQ Bachelor of Dental Science (Honours) graduate Dr Vivian Dao.

Vivian’s path to dentistry started from a young age and has grown into a career she is passionate about, and she wants more people to know about the benefits of working as a dentist.

Dr Vivian Dao

Growing up, I loved science and enjoyed creative, hands-on activities like knitting and playing instruments. Dentistry became the perfect blend of these passions, offering a chance to make a positive impact on people's lives.

Dr Vivian Dao
Bachelor of Dental Science (Honours)

Why is dentistry a good career?

Dentistry is more than just a career; it's a dynamic and versatile profession that keeps you engaged and fulfilled throughout the day. For those who crave excitement and thrive on continuous learning, dentistry offers an abundance of opportunities to specialise in various niches, from crowns and implants to braces and root canals. The field allows you to take professional development courses and refine your skills in the areas that resonate most with your passions.

One of the most thrilling aspects of dentistry is the 'work hard, play hard' mentality it embodies. When you step into your dental office, you dive headfirst into a world of meticulous focus and problem-solving. Every morning brings a mix of challenging fillings, check-ups, gum disease treatments, and emergency appointments, leaving no room for dull moments. The unpredictability keeps you on your toes, ready to act like a detective, diagnosing and resolving issues on the spot.

The sense of fulfilment in dentistry extends beyond treating patients' dental problems. It's the joy of watching lives transform with the advice you provide during appointments. As a dentist, your priority is to make your patients feel valued, comfortable, and empowered about their dental health.

Each day brings an element of surprise, with treatments often completed in a single appointment, allowing you to witness immediate results. This not only keeps you fulfilled but also drives your passion to deliver top-notch care consistently.

Vivian Dao - Ventures

What do you enjoy most about being a dentist?

I absolutely love how flexible and diverse dentistry is as a career. There are so many specialised areas you can explore, like crowns, implants, braces, gum treatments, root canals, and working with kids (paediatrics). Even after graduating, you can continue learning and taking courses to enhance your skills in the dental procedures you enjoy the most.

I thrive on being active and engaged throughout the day; sitting around for hours on end would bore me! Working alongside a dental assistant is incredibly fulfilling too. Together, we create a well-suited workspace and workflow, and it's comforting to have someone with me as we tackle different challenges.

Is dentistry a difficult career?

Is dentistry a challenging profession? Absolutely. Healthcare can be unpredictable, and managing patient comfort and expectations in high-anxiety situations can test your resilience.

Being a dentist means being switched on all day, which is something I personally enjoy about my job. From complex procedures to urgent emergency cases, each day presents a new set of challenges that demand focus and meticulous attention.

It’s also a profession that demands excellent manual dexterity skills. This is because working in the limited space of a patient's mouth requires a high degree of precision. It’s hard to explain, but it's like confidently navigating a rapidly sinking lifeboat while reassuring anxious passengers. Dentists at all stages of their careers are constantly improving their skills through clinical experience, development courses, or mentorship.

But amidst the challenges, there's a profound sense of fulfilment. In my opinion, the discomfort in the challenge is good because it means that we have room to grow.

Dr Vivian Dao

Is dentistry hard to study?

As a dentist, the path to becoming who I am today was not without its hurdles and doubts. Looking back to my university days, I vividly remember those moments when I grappled with procedures and felt uncertain about the next steps. There were times when I questioned whether dentistry was truly the right path for me, leading me to face a brief existential crisis.

But I realised that it's perfectly normal to face challenges when venturing into a new field. I learned to be kinder to myself and to embrace the learning process with an open mind. I understood that developing new skills takes time and practice. So, I kept at it, determined to grow and improve every day.

Undeniably, understanding the intricacies of oral health and mastering the latest dental technologies was no easy feat. The coursework was intense, but I embraced it with dedication and discipline, knowing it was essential for my growth as a dentist.

What truly amazed me about studying dentistry at UQ was the amount of hands-on training we did. Working on real patients during my studies brought forth a blend of excitement and responsibility. I had to be meticulous and attentive to ensure the safety and satisfaction of my patients. Those moments of uncertainty taught me resilience and instilled in me the belief that I could overcome any challenge thrown my way.

Any advice for aspiring dentists?

Understanding your learning style and studying effectively is essential for your journey to becoming a dentist. Each person is unique, so find the methods that work best for you. This will not only make getting into dentistry and surviving the degree easier but will also benefit you after graduation as you enter the workforce.

Setting goals in both your professional and personal life is incredibly beneficial. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all approach, and that's what makes the journey enjoyable. Be kind to yourself and allow room for growth. Embrace the unexpected and keep pushing forward!

In the end, dentistry can be an incredibly rewarding profession, providing you with the opportunity to positively impact patients' lives every single day. So, stay determined, and I'm certain you'll find as much joy and fulfilment in being a dentist as I have.

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