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Studying dentistry in Australia: your questions answered

Timetables, placements, safety, making friends and more
If you're considering moving here to study dentistry, you probably have a lot of questions. We asked two Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) students to answer frequently asked questions about studying dentistry in Sydney.

What's it like to be an international student in Sydney?

Benjamin Ross (fourth year DMD student) and Yasmin Samiee (second year DMD student, from Canada).

"It reminds me of home, but it has better weather and different accents, and I think that's great. I love that if I'm ever stressed and I need to get away, I can take a bus for twenty minutes and be by the beach. I think that's one of the best things for me," says Yasmin.

"It's a big international city and there's a lot for you to do here, but then there's also a lot of nature very close by. There's all those world class beaches at your doorstep, but then you can take a train a few hours west and you'll be at the Blue Mountains and just experiencing a whole different side of the country there as well," says Ben.

"As an international student, it's nice to see Sydney and see places around. So in any breaks that we've had so far, I've travelled somewhere - some places close, and some places far. I think that's one benefit of being an international student in a beautiful country - you can take that free time and go see things," says Yasmin.

"I'm from Melbourne and moved up here for the course, so living in a different city, I like to take the time to go out and explore what Sydney has to offer. Probably only 25% of each cohort are from Sydney, so you make really close friends who also aren't from Sydney, and go out together to explore the different sights that Sydney has to offer," says Ben.

"It's nice to be in your own space, away from your safe zone, where you learn how to be yourself, what really matters to you, how to survive and things like that," says Yasmin.

"I think Sydney is safe, it's beautiful and it's the perfect place for someone to kind of figure all those things out - I love Sydney, I love it all," she says.

"I feel super safe at all times - the city's always busy no matter what time of day it is. Because there are so many different universities around where I've lived, students are always out or studying late, so the commotion makes you feel safe. So I've never felt unsafe," says Yasmin.

"Last year I went to Queensland - we saw Noosa, Brisbane, Fraser Island and a bunch of places up the coast. I've been to Adelaide, Melbourne twice and a lot of stuff around Sydney like the Hunter Valley," says Yasmin.

"Because there are so many international students, and students who aren't from Sydney, everyone is trying to build connections and it's really easy. Even before classes start, you'll have a lot of opportunities to meet and hang out with your classmates. You find that solid group of people who you know are going to be with you throughout dental school and beyond," says Yasmin.

"We also have a very strong student society, the Sydney University Dental Association (SUDA), and it's been incredibly welcoming and has a lot of opportunities for students to get to know each other," says Ben.

We have alumni practising as dentists in a number of countries, including Canada, Singapore, the UK and Hong Kong. To find out whether this degree will allow you to register as a dentist in your home country, please check the legislation in your country. You may be able to find this through your national Dental Board or equivalent.

The Doctor of Dental Medicine degree is identified as a Level 9 Masters degree in accordance with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). Graduates can apply for general registration with the Dental Board of Australia.

What's it like to study the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)?

Benjamin Ross (fourth year DMD student) and Yasmin Samiee (second year DMD student).

You'll see your first patients in the second semester of your second year. 

"They're my patients, so I see them for their full course of care - I'll treatment plan them, I'll decide what we need to do, and then I'll see them for however long it takes to get their oral health to optimal levels," says Ben.

"Because we work out of a public system, a lot of the patients we see have complex issues and require a lot of ongoing care," he says.

"Dentistry is a 9-5 job. I'm in clinics from 9am to 4.30pm, with one day set aside for lectures. You're also going home to consolidate all that knowledge in self-directed learning. It's a bit different in the younger years - you'll be doing more lectures and tutorials," says Ben.

"I'm placed at both Westmead Centre for Oral Health as well as Sydney Dental Hospital, so they're predominately where I treat most of my patients," says Ben.

"I've also done other electives where I've been to Nepal and done work over there, I've done work in the endodontic (root canal) department here at Sydney Dental Hospital, and I've also done a rural placement in Ballina, up in northern NSW (just a little bit south of Byron Bay)" he says.

"I do - I didn't work in first year and I think that was probably the best choice for me - you know that professional school is going to be hard, but you don't know how much work it's going to be until you're here. But once you figure out how to study in dental school, I think you have a little bit more time," says Yasmin.

"I do too, I tutor three hours on a Sunday. I used to tutor throughout the week as well, but I've had to scale back on the amount of part-time work I do as the degree progresses," says Ben.  

"From first year, I think the first or second week that you're here, you start doing clinical stuff. You're here in the SIM Clinic at least once a week, by second semester you're here almost three times a week," says Yasmin.

"In second year, you get a lot of exposure to a lot of different types of clinics, so it's not just the same thing over and over. At this point, in second semester of second year, we're in clinics almost three or four times a week and have lectures the other days, either at Westmead or the Sydney Dental Hospital," she says.

"The University of Sydney within Australia has a really good reputation, and Sydney itself as a city is a fantastic place to be, so it wasn't a difficult decision to move up from Melbourne for a school like the Sydney Dental School," says Ben.

"I applied to dental schools all over, and getting the offer from Sydney was just an easy 'yes' from me. There's a lot of people who recommend it as a school to go to," he says.

Interested in studying the Doctor of Dental Medicine at the University of Sydney? Learn more about the admission requirements and how to apply.

19 November 2018