Posted on 9th June 2020
It’s no secret that securing a year-long contract as a graduate dental officer at the Oral Health Centre of WA (OHCWA) is highly coveted.
“I was interested in this position after hearing the positive responses from the previous graduate dental officers, who spoke highly of the supportive environment and learning experience,” Dr Samuel Deng recalls. “I was excited to work with staff I was familiar with, and with dental colleagues who have contributed so much in my four years of studying.”
Certainly, both Samuel and Dr Lyndon Abbott are experiencing a plethora of dental cases, as they treat and manage patients at OHCWA who are not suitable or do not wish to be seen by students, as well as completing rotations in oral surgery and hospital dentistry.
As graduate dental officers, Samuel and Lyndon are both familiar with their working environment, as well as the dentists and dental specialists who are on hand to assist with advice and treatment. It’s also comforting for both young dentists to know that they’re in this together. “The jump from being a student to a graduate is massive, so having another new graduate working next door gives me support.”
Despite only being part way through their contract, both Samuel and Lyndon already have a long list of highlights. “I’ve enjoyed observing specialists while they work and learning many new techniques from them; having supportive and experienced clinicians so close to me who are happy to answer all my questions; having reception support to help book patients and schedule appointments; and performing a wide range of dental procedures,” Samuel says. “With specialists so close at hand, I have the confidence to perform more complex procedures under their supervision.”
After completing surgical extractions, Lyndon is learning they are not quite as terrifying as they seemed during dental school. He’s also enjoyed crowning completed root canals, and learning from dental nurses with many, many years of experience. Another highlight was the gift of a devil’s ivy plant from a patient. “I’m still not sure if this was their way of subtly saying something to me,” he laughs.
When asked about the challenges, Samuel says he’s had to adapt to the greater responsibility he now has as a clinician, run on time, and write concise but detailed clinical notes for many patients every day.
Many new graduates will nod in agreement when Lyndon says one of his challenges has been learning to call the tutors by their first name. “I am also realising that the more I learn, the more questions I have, and just how little I truly know,” he adds.
To final year dental students considering applying for a graduate dental officer position, Lyndon says to go for it. “It is a great experience,” Samuel adds. “The transition from dental student to clinician is always going to be difficult but starting work at the Oral Health Centre is a great place to make that transition.”