Are you planning to study dentistry in Australia? Dentists are becoming more in-demand in the country, with more students choosing dentistry as their career path. One of the good things about this career is the employment opportunity. On average, 87% of dentistry graduates earn a full-time job within only 4 months. Another reason for its popularity is its competitive salary; data shows that the yearly wages of dentists can range from $160,000 to $200,000.
Aside from its high employability and good salary, dentistry is also a popular choice because it is a rewarding career that involves serving and treating people. It is a branch of medicine that focuses on maintaining oral health and treating mouth and teeth-related problems. They use their knowledge and skills to prevent, diagnose, and treat dental concerns, keeping people well and supporting a large part of people’s daily lives. One obvious fact is how important oral health is to satisfy our basic needs of eating and drinking.
Dentistry can also be a challenging field because it requires technical competence and manual dexterity, the ability to use one’s hands and move precisely. To become a dentist and provide services is not at all easy and requires tons of lectures, training, internships, and examinations, which makes it a very competitive industry. But having to finish all these is what makes it not only a rewarding career but a fulfilling one as well.
Here are some of the steps to become a dentist in Australia.
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Steps to Become a Dentist in Australia
1. Choose the right university pathway for you
There are two directions that you can take at the beginning of your dentistry path. Option A is to pursue a double degree, a Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Dental Medicine combined in a period of 7 years, directly after finishing high school. With this option, the undergraduate degree is shortened from four to three years, though entering this program is highly competitive and requires high grades and assessment scores.
Option B is to complete an eligible bachelor’s degree at university and then apply for a postgraduate Doctor of Dental Medicine degree, which is a 4-year program. Like the first option, there are also GPA and other requirements to enter the program.
2. Complete foundation studies course
International students will need to complete a Foundation Studies Program as one of the initial steps to become a dentist in Australia. It is a 9-11 month program that aims to prepare students for their academic program and assist their adjustment to the Australian education system.
3. Get admitted to your dentistry program
To enter the Bachelor of Dental Surgery program, applicants should pass the assessments and interviews. Australia is keen on the safety of patients, so the application process for health-related programs is more strict and competitive compared to other courses in the country. In case you fail the admission, an alternative step is to enroll in a related course like Health and Medical Sciences then re-apply to the program and request for transfer.
4. Complete and excel in your dentistry program
This is, of course, an essential step to become a dentist in Australia. The Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) program is designed to be completed full-time in 5 years. It combines theoretical and clinical skills to develop students’ dental abilities. One of the schools in Australia with this program is James Cook University. This school provides students with the support of dental experts and hands-on training with leading-edge simulation laboratories.
The University of Adelaide is one of the top schools in Australia offering the BDS program as well. The degree program is structured to give students clinical opportunities from the start and focuses on a preventive-based approach with minimal restorative treatment necessary. There are mandatory assignments in several clinical settings both in the city and the rural areas of Australia, which gives students direct experience in dentistry and early hands-on training from their first year.
5. Register with the Dental Board of Australia
Upon graduation, it is compulsory for students to register with the Dental Board of Australia prior to clinical practice. Ahpra is the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, which assists the implementation of National Boards and sets the standards and policies for registered healthcare professionals in Australia. It is the body involved in the registration and renewal of health practitioner licenses.
Limited registration is granted to dentists with overseas dentistry qualifications, for the purpose of postgraduate training, supervised practice, teaching, and research endeavors.
6. Re-register annually to continue practicing
Renewal of registration with the Dental Board of Australia is required per year to continue practicing the profession. Dentists should earn at least 60 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points in a span of 3 years, which they receive from attending trainings, presenting at conferences, and completing academic literature. The objective of CPD activities is to maintain high-quality patient care in dentistry.
Dentists could work in various types of settings. They could work in community clinics and treat patients in the developing world. They can also work in private clinics, dental hospitals, or the defense force. Dentists could also pursue a career in research and make innovations with oral health care.
7. Pursue postgraduate studies
A career in dentistry opens several opportunities even after graduation. Postgraduate dental courses are an additional step to become a dentist in Australia and are available in several schools to prepare graduates for more extensive training in a specific area of expertise.
Admission requirements vary depending on the program, but applicants are usually required to have an active registration with the Australian Dental Board and at least 2 years of experience in a general dental practice before applying to postgraduate programs. Some of the programs are on oral medicine, implants, orthodontics, and prosthodontics.
Overall, about 9 to 10 years of dedicated studies and clinical experience are needed to be a professional dentist. Undergraduate dentistry entails 5 to 7 years of theoretical and clinical learning whereas, postgraduate dentistry courses can be completed in 4 years, in addition to the 4-year undergraduate course. In terms of cost, international students spend an average of AUD 70,000 to AUD 140,000 for tuition fees. Though costly, students can earn this back from the highly competitive salaries of dentists.
I hope this article on the steps to become a dentist in Australia was informative and helpful. You can also visit the Australia Scholarships Page for more articles about studying in Australia!