I came into dentistry with an open mind, and the intention to maximise my learning. I therefore put myself forward for every new challenge and opportunity, no matter how remote. This has led to some quite unexpected experiences and outcomes, which has greatly enhanced my overall journey so far.
Heart Your Smile
Heart Your Smile is the first dental committee I became part of. It is a charity that aims to increase the positive perception of dentistry within the community. As I successfully raised £500 at an event held at King’s College London, I was given the opportunity to join the committee. I put forward the idea of setting up a national student representative scheme whereby we aimed to elect students across all dental schools.
Following a detailed selection process, I have now elected 14 students across five dental schools. We hope this will not only raise a lot of money but also awareness. The student rep scheme is running successfully and we are holding a series of talks across Bart`s and King`s on topics such as back pain. As nationwide student president, it`s been great fun working across different universities and helping spread the charity`s important message with future young dentists. In a recent development, I have taken over Heart Your Smile and will run it as a non-profit organisation, which will fund oral healthcare projects.
KCL Smile Society
This is a great society within my university and I hold the position of social secretary. This involves planning social events such as our annual pub quiz which helps fund our projects. Our main aim as a society is to promote oral health within the community. We do this by conducting ‘drop in’ visits to local schools where we organise five stations (rather like a fun OSCE for kids!) each of which aims to educate children about the importance of their dental health.
Shortly after joining the BDA, I was given the opportunity to help re-launch sectional meetings in my local area: Enfield. Sadly, Enfield BDA had been closed for seven years and I felt compelled to revive the section. I attended a meeting with local dentists and the executive members of the BDA where the Enfield committee was established.
Being the only student on board did make me feel inexperienced but I threw myself into every task at hand to help with a successful relaunch last November. Dentistry can be an isolated profession, and with the BDA I have learnt the importance of building a friendly local network. I have familiarised myself with the ‘hot topics’ in dentistry and it has been a privilege to work with lovely people from different backgrounds.
Inspire was an inaugural event held at King’s last November, with the aim of stimulating students to take an active interest in research. My role largely comprised of promoting the event amongst dental students. There were six oral student presentations and 46 poster presentations, with contributions from every dental school. It was an informative day; with talks and workshops sessions from a host of renowned speakers. This event underlined the importance that research holds in the ever-evolving field of modern dentistry and the prospects of undertaking research.
King’s Oral and Maxillofacial Society
This is a new society we aim to establish within the student body across medicine and dentistry. I hold the role of medicine representative, helping build connections between dental and medical students. I have learnt a great deal about the two respective disciplines and importance of communication across healthcare.
Diwali Show ambassador
After enjoying dancing in the Diwali show last year, I was keen to be involved again. However, due to time pressure I opted to take a backstage role this year. It`s a privilege to be part of the biggest student show in the country which raises thousands of pounds for worthy causes. I sold tickets for the show and helped with managing and organising the acts on the night.
Akshaya Patra Foundation
I am the first student ambassador in the UK for Akshaya Patra: a charity that has the world’s largest non-government school meal programme. Akshaya Patra feeds over 1.3 million children daily (and growing) across 18 locations in India. I helped arrange a talk entitled ‘Future of India’, a thought-provoking evening with keynote speakers. I organised an evening seminar called ‘The Business of Dentistry’ with four speakers, which raised over £1000.00 for Akshaya Patra.
For any child in poverty, the first step is solving the problem of malnourishment and then empowering with education. The brilliance of Akshaya Patra lies in the fact that it solves these simultaneously. I hope to set up an elective scheme via Heart Your Smile with schools in India. This will give students the opportunity to practice skills they have learnt and provide the next step in taking care of vulnerable children; which I feel is a social responsibility.
My seven top tips:
- Be selective in taking opportunities
- Don’t be afraid of throwing yourself into something
- Time management is essential
- Be charitable
- Contribute if you do join a committee- don’t be passenger
- Think outside the box in any events you organise
- Most importantly, if you don’t enjoy it then don’t be a part of it!