Dentistry is one of the most privileged and highest paid professions in the world, especially in Australia where it is considered as one of the most desirable professions. As a dental specialist you would be likely to be associated with departments that have to do with Oral Health and Hygiene. While many dentists get involved in surgery and private practices, others pursue research and commercial development of products.
There are two pathways that an individual can undertake for pursuing a career as a dentist in Australia. One is to study Bachelors of Dental Surgery (BDS) after finishing A-levels or equivalent qualification and the second is to study postgraduate dentistry degree after completion of an undergraduate degree in related disciplines. Students who fail to meet the high entry requirements for the undergraduate dentistry courses can apply again after the completion of their undergraduate degree or a proportion of it to show their commitment to the field and thus making their applications stronger and giving them a better chance of being accepted.
Once you have completed your degree you will be registered as a dentist with the Australian Dental Association. This ensures the high standards of dental services that you render and provides you any support that you might require including study grants, training and resources.
The dentistry courses at all levels of study are very competitive in Australia, especially at the leading medical schools of the country like University of Sydney, University of Newcastle and University of Melbourne. This is reflected in the high academic entry requirements of the courses. For BDS, you will be expected to have achieved As in your Biology and Chemistry disciplines, or an equivalent qualification. Sometimes you will also be required to have studied mathematics at A-levels. Alongside, you would need to prove your English language proficiency by taking the IELTS or TOEFL exams. Most universities will ask for about 7.0 bands out of 9.0 in IELTS exam.
As the dental courses focus on development of practical and technical skills, you will sometimes be asked to have completed a clinical placement or research project to be eligible for a course. This is especially true for the postgraduate dentistry courses. And even if a university does not particularly ask for work experience, it is always a good idea to have achieved some as it increases your chances of getting accepted if you have some relevant work experience to support your application. The exact academic and professional requirements of the courses can be found out by sending an enquiry to the university you are interested in.
The BDS course lasts five years at Australian universities, following which one year of professional training also called the house job needs to be undertaken before you can go on to establishing your own private practice and working independently.
The first two years of the degree will focus on developing the understanding of biomedical and dental sciences across a wide range of medicinal disciplines including physiology, anatomy, pharmacology, dental hygiene etc. You will also be performing experiments and carrying our laboratory work to develop technical skills. The following three years will enable you to develop more professional skills and knowledge by covering specialised fields of study, hospital rounds, treating patients and carrying out your own thesis in the last year.
Curriculum of most universities involves lectures, seminars, tutorials and laboratory sessions that take place each week and hospital rounds that are scheduled at different times during term time. You would also benefit from taking up clinical placements during your holidays. Your academic progression through different semesters of the degree will be based on assessment of coursework, exams, laboratory sessions, oral exams, presentations and thesis. Each of the assessments will contribute different proportions towards your degree.
There is no doubt that the study and practice of dentistry in Australia is challenging, yet rewarding. If you are interested in studying dentistry or medicinal sciences in Australia, browse through our database of relevant courses. With regards to finding the financial support and assistance to fund your study abroad experience, you can apply for scholarships or work part-time during the term time.