Rural dentistry students recognised

Three of La Trobe University’s rural dentistry students have been successful in receiving study grants from the Australian Dental Association.

The study grants, from the Australian Dental Association (ADA), recognise dental students who demonstrate a commitment and desire to work in rural communities once graduating.

Amy Badenoch grew up on farm near Mount Gambier, South Australia and says her desire to work rurally is due to witnessing first-hand the poor access to health services in rural communities.

“It is 100% my intention to work rurally when I graduate, this has been my ambition even since I found out I got into the course.  I hope to one day make a positive impact on a rural community that has limited or no dental services. On applying for dentistry, I had university offers to other dental schools, however, I chose to study at La Trobe University, Bendigo, because of its rural focus.

“I feel incredibly grateful to be one of the recipients of the Australian Dental Association’s (ADA) study grants.  I think it is amazing that the ADA recognises some of the hardships faced by university students who are required to relocate from home in order to undertake tertiary studies, and the support that they offer to such students, including myself, goes a long way.”

Earlier this year the La Trobe Rural Health School celebrated that more than half of their commencing dentistry students were from rural or regional areas.  La Trobe is the only Victorian university to offer a dentistry program fully based at a regional campus.  Students complete the five-year Bachelor of Dental Science (Honours) and complete work placement across regional and rural Victoria.

Margaret Tran says the grant will greatly help her as she finishes her final year of the Bachelor of Dental Science (Honours).

“This grant will allow me to take a break from one of three casual jobs, so that I can allocate more time to focus on my final exams before graduating.”

Originally from Melbourne, Margaret relocated to Bendigo to study.  She says her rural placement experience has opened her eyes to a career rurally.

“My rural experience has really shaped my thoughts as to where I want to work after I graduate.  it has been such an amazing experience for me studying in Bendigo and undertaking placement in Albury-Wodonga and now Mildura. You are exposed to a wider range of procedures, patient demographics and different challenges.

“I have loved the support I have been given from La Trobe staff, clinical demonstrators and staff and wider community. My experience has been deepened and challenged by the varying demographics in these areas of refugees, Indigenous Australians, elderly and low-socio-economic populations. I have learnt so much in the last two years and am grateful for the experiences I have had.”

Jake Templar, originally from Melbourne, says his regional placement experience has allowed him to grow as a person.

"I think most students will tell you they were a little, nervous and apprehensive about the move to a regional location, myself included. However, after moving to Bendigo and becoming settled in a regional city - I began to love it!  It was a learning curve at first and challenged me to grow up a lot personally, however, I am a better person for that experience.  I have since returned to my school to speak to this years graduating class and encouraged them to look at regional courses.

"I am extremely grateful and humbled to receive the ADA study grant. I believe that it is extremely important that the ADA recognises the importance of rural and regional oral health care and supports students aiming to work regionally in the future."