I encourage anyone to do any of these seven steps and see where it takes them. First and foremost I wouldn’t have endeavoured to broaden my horizons and get involved within the dental community if I did not have guidance from my parents to do so and the motivation, passion and reinforcement instilled into me by my dental mentors. It is always good to have role models and someone to guide you through with all that you do, however weird and wonderful the problem may be.
1. Dentistry overseas
My decision to join a dental trip to Ghana with Global Brigade ended up with me having a few weeks of an absolutely life changing experience. I had always wanted to do more than just exist within the dental community and this allowed me to make that change – this was the beginning of what spiralled afterwards and enhanced my personal and professional development.
2. Dental charity
Giving back to the community, encouraging public health and improving oral health in less-fortunate areas are all brilliant ways to make a difference and with so many dental charity organisations this could be a platform to get involved.
Becoming a student adviser for charity organisations such as the Dental Wellness Trust ensured I could continue with my passion for dental charity.
3. Dental exhibitions
Lots of dental care professionals in one area provides an opportunity to become aware of the roles and responsibilities members have. Involving myself in networking events at dental shows, attending lectures and seminars all aided in learning the general functioning of dentistry.
Educating yourself on how equipment works and the science behind dental products allows you to gain a better understanding of what you may be prescribing to patients on a daily basis at dental schools – it is always better to give advice on what you have seen and form unbiased opinions.
4. Heart Your Smile
Promotion of oral health in the community and changing the view of the public are aims we should all try and uphold – meeting others with similar views is definitely motivating.
Writing for the Heart Your Smile blog helps broaden writing skills, giving young people a platform to express their experiences and time to reflect and report back to the dental community.
Heart Your Smile’s mentoring lounge can help to connect with different members of the community, hence gaining an insight from different members of the team and enabling more health professionals to make the change within society.
5. Professionalism, leadership, management masterclass
I organised a student aimed professionalism, leadership and management masterclass event.
Students ranging from BDS4 – DF1 attended to learn more on the business and leadership side to dentistry.
Any project will give you the ability to learn. In creating the event from start to finish it actually enabled me to practise leadership and management skills itself.
Professionalism, leadership and management is now a requirement for all undergraduates and will give you an abundance of knowledge when going into general practice.
6. Beyond BDS lecture series
Feedback from peers suggested that extra-curriculum subjects of interest were needed, such as: marketing a practice, photography, speech language therapy, business skills, bleaching and aesthetics.
A 'Beyond BDS' lecture series was created at Guy’s for all to attend on subjects students find of interest. This enables students to feedback what inspires them and ascertain information from dental care professionals.
7. Personal development planning
Keep a dental diary of subjects of interest, treatments you found difficult or stimulated you, reflect upon how you could do better and what you are proud you have achieved. Always strive to improve and learn.
Dentinal Tubules is an area to learn about special interest topics that may keep you up to date with newest innovations, equipment, techniques and a place to ask questions.
Article writing improves your writing skills for examinations, allows a time to reflect and report on experiences. You can also compare and contrast past and present articles, always allow growth in personal development plans.
Shivana Anand is a 24-year-old final year dental student at King’s College London. She has always had a passion for dentistry and is looking forward to graduating this year.