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From a Dental Student to a Dental Registrar – A 10-year Journey

16 Nov 2018

It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since I started my dentistry journey with DT108, the pioneering batch of dentistry students at IMU. IMU’s dentistry programme was something I chanced upon when I visited an education fair in December 2007, the year before its inception. IMU was more popular for their medical and pharmacy programmes then. At that time, I was considering dentistry in countries like India or Australia since there were not many local dental schools. Somehow life has an interesting way of making things work out in the end. Our first day of school was 25 February 2008, and for the next two and a half years, most of the days were occupied with lectures, clinics, and not forgetting the intense assignments and stressful examinations. Fortunately, there were also tons of memorable social events organised by IMU students as well as fun outings with classmates and friends.

In the blink of an eye, upon completion of Phase 1 in IMU Bukit Jalil Campus, 15 of us went over to University of Otago in Dunedin, while some of my other classmates transferred to universities in Australia or stayed in IMU to complete Phase 2 of our dentistry programme. The first few months were challenging due to the change in environment and culture when we first arrived in New Zealand. All these changes took time getting used to. On the bright side, we learned to cook and live independently, formed new friendships with the local students, learned about the “Kiwi culture” and also travelled around the country during our school holidays. There were many ups and downs but all of us managed to pull through and graduated with our bachelor’s degree in December 2012. After graduating from University of Otago, I decided to work in Singapore. Currently, there are more than 50 IMU dental alumni working here. For my first year, I worked at a private dental clinic at the east side of Singapore. Life was stable and comfortable, but I yearned for more learning opportunities and ended up applying for a hospital position.

I was working as a dental officer in National Dental Centre Singapore where I was allowed to handle more complicated cases under the supervision of specialists during the 1.5 years I was there. Eventually, I decided to pursue a postgraduate master’s degree in prosthodontics, the branch of dentistry concerned with the artificial replacement of missing teeth, which includes dental implants, bridges, dentures, and so on at the National University of Singapore (NUS). As luck would have it, I was accepted into the programme and started my postgraduate training in July 2015.

Postgraduate training is definitely not what I expected it to be. The learning never ends, and it has been tough yet exciting and interesting to learn more about prosthodontics. For the past 3 years, life have been occupied with never ending deadlines for presentations and assignments, staying back late for laboratory work such as fabrication of crowns and dentures for patients, preparation for exams as well as writing up my research thesis. Thankfully, I graduated a few months ago and am currently working as a registrar in a hospital. As a dental student from IMU’s pioneer batch, I feel that we benefited from the very substantial dental curriculum and the necessary knowledge and soft skills (otherwise known as survival skills) which were so crucial when we were transferred to our partner dental schools. I remain grateful to my lecturers in IMU and University of Otago for preparing us well during the undergraduate phase. To Prof Toh Chooi Gait, our Founding Dean of IMU School of Dentistry, thank you for starting the IMU dentistry course just at the right time and your continuous support and guidance over the past few years.

The dentistry journey can be extremely stressful, but as the legendary footballer Pelé once said, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing, or learning to do.” My encouragement to all who are also on this dentistry journey is to believe in yourself, work hard, and give nothing but your best to achieve your dreams. Nevertheless, it is important to have a good balance between your career and your personal life. Lastly, remember to invest in yourself and also spend time with your family and friends. Written by Dr Wong Jin Lin from DT108

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