All expectations great and small
Beginning life as a newly qualified dentist brings its own hopes, fears, expectation and excitement. In the first of a two-part series, Keith Moloney from the class of 2018 at University College Cork explains why he chose the profession
Writer: Stewart McRobert
Dentistry was a second thought for 24-year-old Keith Moloney. But don’t get the impression he’s not fully committed to the profession. It’s simply that on leaving school he’d initially taken up veterinary studies at University College Dublin.
However, after a year there he found the course wasn’t for him. Ultimately, it seems he prefers working with people rather than animals.
“I always had a huge interest in the health sciences in school and it was actually the clinical aspect of veterinary that led me to believe that dentistry might be the option for me. Also, I was quite good with my hands when growing up, which I thought might provide an advantage when it comes to the intricate work involved in dentistry.”
After opting to switch, the decision to choose Cork was determined by geography, family history and reputation. Keith grew up in Limerick, so Cork was always just over an hour away. His father had previously graduated from UCC and on carrying out his own research Keith found that the college is very highly regarded.
His own experience over the past five years has confirmed his initial thoughts. “I enjoyed being at UCC; it’s a great place to go to college. It is a comparatively small college community, so it was easy to get to know people. The first two years of dentistry provided a typical student experience – a mix of lectures and exams, making friends and going out.
“In third year there was a much greater focus on clinical work. This turned out to be my favourite part of the course, and it confirmed I’d made the right choice. I can say that having experienced clinical work over the past three years I think I will enjoy my career as a dentist.”
Keith specifically valued the experience of building a rapport with patients. “It helps boost your own confidence and you learn how to deal with all sorts of different people. As time went on it felt less like college and more like a job.”
He has very few, if any, negative comments on the course or college. “I have to say they ease you into things at the start and the learning is taken at a very comfortable pace. The staff really do look after you if you ever have any problems. The support they provide is very important in a course like this, which can be quite stressful (reflecting what life is like in
the dental sector). Overall, I think we got everything we needed.”
The student/staff ratio certainly helped in terms of allowing that support. In Keith’s class there were approximately 35 students (although in subsequent years the total has crept up to nearer 50).
Despite their relatively small number, many of Keith’s peers were international students. Looking to the future, he believes the global connections he has made could prove useful.
“As far as the quality of teaching is concerned, everyone I came across was extremely skilful, friendly and good at dealing with students. I found staff were very approachable and always happy to help.”
Before the summer’s graduation ceremony, Keith followed the example of many a student before him by taking three weeks off to relax after an intensive five-year course.
His aim is to get a job in general practice in Ireland soon. It has always been his intention to stay in his home country and disregard, for the foreseeable future at least, the attractions of working abroad.
“In the past a lot of people have headed off to the UK, and back then it was a very easy option to take. However, times have changed and there seem to be jobs available in Ireland for young graduates. I have friends in years above me who have stayed and really enjoyed life here so I’m very happy to follow their lead.”
Keith has no preferences for any specific part of the country. Most important as far as he is concerned is a practice that gives him support and helps him to learn and grow.
“I plan to develop my skills working alongside a supportive team. Looking long term, I do intend to continue my education, but I still don’t know in what direction. I hope my experience in general practice will help guide me.
“Often you hear people say that the things you love in college you hate in practice and the things you hated in college you love in practice. That’s the reason I’m waiting to see how things work out. At college I loved restorative dentistry and oral surgery.”
One thing’s for sure, even if he ultimately commits to general practice, Keith will undertake further training in areas such as implants. “That’s one area that’s going to become a necessity for a general dentist.
“I fully realise that there’s still an awful lot to learn. Nevertheless, I’m delighted I made the switch from veterinary. So far, things couldn’t have worked out any better.”
The second part of this series, focusing on a newly qualified dentist from Northern Ireland will feature in the September edition of Ireland’s Dental.
Cork Dental School at UCC
The Cork Dental School & Hospital is located in a 90-chair facility on the campus of Cork University Hospital, the main hospital in the south of Ireland. Along with facilities on the nearby University College Cork (UCC) campus, the Dental School is equipped to deliver each stage of the dental curriculum as well as specialised patient treatment. UCC has a complement of more than 17,000 students.
Dental hub marks another enhancement in the student experience
A new ‘dental hub’ at University College Cork (UCC) was officially opened in April 2018 by Prof Patrick O’Shea, President of UCC, and Dr Christine McCreary, Dean of the Dental School and Hospital.
The hub is said to mark another improvement in the student experience at UCC. It will provide a space for approximately 250 undergraduate dentistry students studying dental hygiene, dental nursing and dental surgery.
In the reconfigured space, students can learn through peer interaction, IT and participation in seminars and lectures. Notably, the new space provides a quiet and reflective area for students, as well as being a place where they can meet and relax with their peers.
The school ran a competition for a logo for the dental hub and BDS IV student Sinéad McKenna produced the winning design, which is displayed on plaques entering the new space.
The overall project was supported by funding from the UCC Students Union & Teaching and Learning Spaces initiative of the Vice-President for Teaching and Learning and Cork University Dental School and Hospital.