Undergraduate

Our Bachelor of Dental Science (Honours) (BDSc (Hons)) program follows a unique educational model, providing graduating students with extensive experience through clinical placements prior to graduation.

Focusing on the application of scientific principles to the prevention, assessment, diagnosis and management of dental and orofacial diseases and abnormalities, the BDSc (Hons) program equips students with the knowledge, understanding, clinical and research skills and professional attributes required to become a competent general dental practitioner. Students undertake courses in oral biosciences, including pre-clinical simulation and workshops, throughout the first four years of the program. Clinical experience, paralleled by our virtual patient program, commences in first year and continues throughout the program, with direct patient care commencing in the latter half of the second year.

Students acquire an appreciation of the profession of dentistry in Australia and explore population oral health. They also design and conduct a research project, gaining research skills along the way. Direct patient care, chairside assisting, observations and community activities are undertaken in areas such as general dental practice, orthodontics, children’s dentistry, periodontics and prosthodontics, special needs and aged care, oral medicine, radiology and surgery in a variety of facilities.

The School recently received reaccreditation of the BDSc (Hons) program from the Australian Dental Council until the 31st of December 2023. The School was commended on:

  • Our comprehensive and novel approach to curriculum development
  • The quality of facilities at the Oral Health Centre
  • The integration of basic science and clinical practice through the virtual patient approach
  • Our approach to student engagement, representation and partnership
  • Our Alliance with Metro North Hospital and Health Service

Hear from one of our recent graduates, Alison Cheah, about her experience in mental health research as a final year dentistry student:

Research. What an alien and inaccessible term. The notion of publishing a paper at the time seemed so far-fetched, even ludicrous to a couple of dentists. What made it all the more daunting was that the paper was to be written on a completely different subject: mental health. What drew me to the topic was just that – the fact that from one specialty to another, I could reach out and make a connection, independent of the current dental psyche.

We worked closely with Associate Professor Sue Patterson over a period of two years to transform a 5th year compulsory research task into a publishable document. Finding the right tone and dynamic of the article was difficult, as there were multiple authors with varying voices and opinions. Periods of busy research were also met with long lulls between communication, and it became increasingly painful to focus once our main researchers moved to the UK and Canberra to pursue alternate activities.

As students, it was incredibly challenging to undertake qualitative research, as there was always a particular emphasis in the field to focus on quantitative studies. I had to re-wire parts of my brain to think objectively, critically and, most importantly, emotively. What I learnt was that healthcare required a holistic frame of mind, and that no two specialities can be separated when there is a unified goal.

Working with patients at the RBWH inpatient drug and alcohol treatment facility was a step into a world outside my cosy bubble. The harsh realities of life were met with the most incredible personalities who were eager to share; you could not help but feel compelled to listen to their stories. You laughed, you cried, but most of all you began to connect with those who you may never thought of reaching out a hand to.

Our research has followed me into a job with Queensland Health. I currently work as a senior dentist within multiple correctional facilities in South East Queensland. In other words, I am a prison dentist, although few believe me when I tell them. In many ways, I have been so successful in my career to date through the skills that I learnt during this project. The ability to empathise and to understand patients coming from a drug-dependent background has allowed me to fine-tune my treatment plans. By this, I mean that I am able to more accurately manage patient expectations and tailor my advice to reflect each person’s educational plans.

I believe that a strong relationship between current clinical practice and ongoing research is crucial in achieving unified healthcare goals. This collaboration should be encouraged in its infancy by integrating compulsory research into all health science fields prior to graduation.

Despite multiple rejections, hair pulling and litres of blood and sweat sacrificed to the research gods, I now invite you to pull up a chair and read our article. Give thought to each hand-picked word, each carefully crafted sentence, each captivating idea and know that even though I may not be the most academically gifted, nor the most awe-inspiring dentist that you will ever meet, have faith that we are the tiny levers that are moving the world.