Dental student gets real-world experience at Sunraysia Community Health Services

Gabi Sargant's learning journey has taken her to Mildura for a six-month placement with the public dental clinic at Sunraysia Community Health Services

A positive experience at the dentist as a kid set Shepparton’s Gabi Sargant on a path to becoming a regional dentist.

“I had orthodontic treatment which really opened my eyes to the possibilities in this field.”

Now in her fourth year, Gabi’s learning journey has taken her to Mildura for a six-month placement with the public dental clinic at Sunraysia Community Health Services (SCHS).

“At first, I was concerned about how far away it was, but have learned so much that it made the move worth it,” Gabi said.

Darren Midgley, CEO at SCHS said the collaboration between La Trobe and SCHS presents a unique opportunity for dentistry students to experience the pace and diverse clinical presentations of a regional dental services.

“This builds a diverse skill set that is attractive for employment in rural and regional dental practices,” Mr Midgley said.

Dr. Cecilia Chan, one of Gabi’s supervisors at SCHS, said completing a public dental placement in regional towns like Mildura builds invaluable clinical and people skills.

“It teaches students to become more confident in communicating with patients and tailoring treatment plans to their different needs and circumstances. The broad scope and fast-paced environment allow students to learn more,” Dr Chan said.

Gabi agrees. The experience has built her diagnostic skills and strengthened her interest in orthodontics.

“I did not expect to gain so much experience constructing dentures for my patients. Working with our dental prosthetist has been so insightful and inspiring.”

“The placements have been the highlight of my degree. Applying the theory and practical knowledge I learnt in my first years at La Trobe has been so rewarding,” Gabi said.

With one placement to go, Gabi wants to stay in regional Victoria.

“I aim to gain as much experience as I can and eventually specialise in orthodontics.”

Dentistry students at La Trobe Rural Health School start their clinical placements from third year at Bendigo Health before undertaking two clinical placements in their fourth and fifth year in public dental clinics, such as SCHS, across regional Victoria.  For more information, contact Dr Michael Angove at M.Angove@latrobe.edu.au