Drive five and half hours northwest of Sydney, and you’ll find the quiet regional city of Dubbo. Almost 40,000 people call the city home – farmers, zookeepers, winemakers, teachers and a burgeoning population of healthcare providers, who serve not only the city but the surrounding region.
For our dentistry and medicine students, it’s a prime spot to complete their rural and regional placements.
“I am hoping to improve my clinical skills by seeing a more diverse range of patients. I also wanted to see how the clinics are different here compared to Sydney,” says fourth year Doctor of Dental Medicine student Stella Jing Wei Meng, who has just moved to Dubbo for her clinical placement.
As an international student from Canada, this is Stella’s first encounter of rural and regional Australia. Like many newcomers to Australian country towns, she was first struck by the friendliness of the people – thanks in no small part to the welcome dinner hosted by University of Sydney alumnus and local dentist Dr Bruce Gray.
For Dr Gray, the choice to host a welcome dinner was easy. “When I was a student and a new graduate, I was the beneficiary of similar goodwill by my senior colleagues, and I have always valued this professional collegiality,” he says. “I’m delighted to be involved in welcoming new members to our profession.”
"Life is a rich smorgasbord in Dubbo – it’s so well connected with Sydney, and geographic restraints are more perceived than real.”
Dr Gray grew up in Sydney, but moved to Dubbo shortly after graduating from a Bachelor of Dental Surgery in 1975.
“Honestly, I’ve enjoyed every working day of my life in Dubbo,” he says. “There has been an enormous scope of clinical work available, and out of opportunity and necessity one is exposed to a wide range of clinical challenges. Life is a rich smorgasbord in Dubbo – it’s so well connected with Sydney, and geographic restraints are more perceived than real.”
At the dinner, organised through our alumni engagement team, he offered the students his insights and advice on working as a dentist in rural and regional NSW.
“I encourage students to make contact with the local private practitioners and to observe (or maybe even help out as a chairside assistant) the many and varied procedures undertaken in rural and regional practices. They’ll also feel the friendliness and gratitude of the patients for the services provided.”
“Dr Gray was kind enough to offer advice on dentistry, which I am really grateful for,” adds Stella.