SUPPORTING YOUR FUTURE DENTISTRY CAREER.
Welcome! My Name's Nisha and I have put together a few resources to help future dentists achieve their career goals. I am now a qualified dentist and spent 5 years studying at Cardiff University. I am now working full-time,
so will be unable to host online interactive events, however, I have provided all that you need to know below. If you have any questions about what I get up to at work or need any further support, then feel free to email me.
A BDS degree (AKA. Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree) requires certain A-Levels i.e. Biology and Chemistry (typically at grade A)as well as specific GCSE requirements so this is a crucial time to get the information across if you think this is a degree you’d enjoy!
Do note that some universities may be open to applicants with BTEC qualifications (i.e. Sheffield & Bristol) and those that have resat exams (but please check the university website to confirm).
The standard degree is 5 years long whereas university graduates can do 4 year course. There is also the option for 6 year courses if you meet the university's gateway or preliminary year entry requirements.
Image source: Cardiff University
So why pick dentistry?
You build lifelong relationships with your patients
It helps bring out your practical and artistic sides (but you don’t have to be super talented in art!)
Financial independence & job security (while it is an important factor, this shouldn’t be the only reason to go into Dentistry).
It is a challenging but rewarding career
The work you do can improve someone's self-esteem and change their life
But do note that the degree comes with a heavy workload compared to others and is more time-consuming.
Where should I apply?
There are 16 dentistry schools in the UK and you can only apply for 4 in your UCAS application, so it can be hard to little it down. Here's a few things that you should consider:
Location - Do you want to stay at home or explore a new city? Think about the cost of living too
Course structure - Cardiff dental school gives the opportunity to work on cadavers in the first year. Have a look at which dental schools have a problem based learning curriculum
UCAT, BMAT and interviews - Leeds Dental school is currently the only dental school to require the BMAT. All other UK dental schools require the UCAT and typically have multiple mini interview (MMI) style interviews.
A day in the life of a dental student
Long story short, no day is the same in dental school. But here's a brief overview of my time in university.
We would have two or three lectures a few times a week, covering topics such as: anatomy, biomechanics, tooth morphology and physiology. We had anatomy dissections (on real people!) every Wednesday - a great way to learn anatomy hands-on. We also had lab-based sessions every few weeks which consisted of Chemistry-based experiments which we had to write up reports for.
We learnt a lot more relevant, dental knowledge this year! More of our lectures consisted for dentally related topics, such as 'Oral Ecosystems' where we learnt about the different parts of the mouth and teeth, dental decay and periodontal disease. We also started seeing patients for the first time during the second term which was scary at first, but we had plenty of sessions practicing with other students in our group beforehand.
During Year 3 we start observing and practicing in other departments around the Dental School, such as the x-ray department, local anaesthetic department (taking teeth out), exam and emergency clinic and oral surgery (seeing cases such as oral cancer referrals and TMJ disorders). This year is when you start to gain a broader knowledge of Dentistry, as you are also seeing your own patients every week in the clinic.
By now you should feel a bit more confident seeing patients. You see patients on a weekly basis and start learning about more advanced treatments during weekly lab sessions i.e. root canal treatments, crowns and veneers. Dentistry becomes very challenging but also exciting this year! We also started placements this year at another Dental Hospital within Cardiff, enabling us to see a different demographic of patients.
This year is all about polishing off your clinical skills. We sat our finals at the beginning of the year, which consisted of all content taught from 2nd year onwards. At the end of 5th year, we have 'vivas' which involve reading an unseen patient case 5-10 minutes before you are expected to discuss it with staff. They question you on everything you should already know, i.e. forming a treatment plan or other information you would need to form a diagnosis - they're not trying to catch you out, just making sure you've got the skills and knowledge to go out into the real world treating patients!