Read an overview of what inspired these dentists to join the profession.


Nick Adams
Specialist Endodontic Practitioner, Telford, Shropshire; Clinical Lecturer, University of Birmingham School of Dentistry

Specialist Endodontic Practitioner, Telford, Shropshire; Clinical Lecturer, University of Birmingham School of Dentistry

I chose to become a dentist because I enjoy meeting people, and the prospect of actively treating teeth appealed to me. I studied for my BDS at the University of Birmingham in 1984 and obtained an MSc from Eastman Dental Institute, London in 1995.

The best thing about my job is meeting and treating patients in practice, and teaching the students at the School of Dentistry. The most challenging part is keeping up with the admin!

A typical day for me is either in practice, treating patients all day then finishing the day with admin, or in the School of Dentistry where I have tutorials and clinical teaching all day (with the occasional meeting).

I wish when I began my career that I had known about the variety that was available in a dentistry career.

Yaz Arrain
Dentist, clinical teacher, non-executive clinical director

Yaz ArrainAs a little girl, my aunt who was a GP always used to visit and tell us stories of her time in practice helping people. I was in awe of her and I thought I would like to do a similar job but with no on call nights. Neither of my parents had been to university, so I did my own research. My dentist was a down to earth, friendly, pleasant person, and I felt I could imagine myself doing the job.

I qualified in Liverpool University where I had some lovely tutors. I did my F1 training year in Peacehaven, Brighton. Whilst working in general practice, I decided I wanted to improve my skills and offer more. I studied part-time, as I had two young children and had moved to the midlands. I studied at the Eastman, UCL - restorative diploma with a special interest in endodontics. I got a distinction in dental materials in 2005. This changed my life. I have also trained in complaints handling over years. I found the evidence-based dentistry course at Oxford useful. I believe in learning and continual development - I do believe every day is a school day!

As a dentist working in three different places I have a lot of variation which is lovely. The best thing about my roles is to  input into my profession and to try and make a difference, however small. In my job as a dentist in general practice, to see a patient be grateful after you have helped them is always a good feeling. It has been nice to see patients and families over the years and look after them. It’s great to be part of a good team. I love prevention and maintaining oral health.

I have been teaching at Birmingham Dental School since 2007 which is a real pleasure and privilege. I feel like I am giving something back, as I remember how much I appreciated all my helpful teachers. It has been lovely to help final year students, to develop and grow. It is nice to see them later doing well in practice/hospital/receive prizes. They are always so grateful. I always believe everyone has a niche, sometimes it takes a little longer to find. I have an interest in bone and medications and enjoy teaching about this subject too.

I also work in a different region, looking after two practices as a non-executive clinical director. This involves a lot of different skills, problem solving, staff guidance, working with individuals and in teams. I have loved this leadership role, and watching the teams develop is fantastic.

The most challenging part of the job is that I am generally a perfectionist and balancing this is important.

If I am in general practice I see all age ranges of patients. I arrive early and log onto the computer and see my day appointments. My nurse prepares the room. I perform a variety of procedures from check- ups, treatment planning, emergency appointments such as traumas,  gum visits, fillings, root fillings, extractions, work involving a dental lab (e.g. crowns, bridges, veneers, dentures), tooth whitening etc. I liaise with the dental labs, ringing them to discuss cases. I work with my nurse who helps assisting with procedures, checking my lab work is there and with all the cleaning and sterilisation.

At the dental school we usually have a tutorial in the morning with the students and two colleagues. This can range from a variety of topics, and the students often prepare beforehand. After this the students bring in their patients for treatment and we supervise them on clinics and sometimes sit to take over. We mark the students on iPads, discuss treatments, and give them feedback.

As a non-executive clinical director I arrive early, often before 9am. I work with a lovely, friendly team who have small pre-meetings for discussing a variety of topics e.g. spreadsheets, any problems, staffing, dental materials, courses, development of team members, strategy, and planning. There is a lot of problem solving and lateral thinking involved which I love. Then we head into the practices. I have 1 to 1 meetings/appraisals with individual dentists and discuss if they are struggling with anything. We look at audits. I work with the team to see how we can help improve what they are doing. We usually have a lunchtime clinical meeting with the dentists and the hygienist. I like to ensure prevention for patients is the top of the agenda, and like to involve the hygienist. We try and look at various topics per clinical meeting and ensure the hygienist and dentists can raise any issues if they want to. I then look at other general issues and appropriate solutions.

As in every type of job, there will be good and bad days. You have to look at bad days, especially early on in your career, as a learning experience rather than too much self-criticism which can be soul destroying. Look at negative experiences as an opportunity to improve. I know I truly care about my patients, and most patients will appreciate you trying to help them to achieve better oral health. It does not matter where you work, so long as you can develop and are happy. Try to do your postgraduate courses earlier on if at all possible, never stop learning, join dental societies, and find your passion. Remember to try and keep fit and find a new hobby, as dentistry can be stressful if there is no outlet.

If you are considering studying dentistry, make sure you are not put off by blood or saliva. If you like routine, then dentistry is ideal. If you are happy working indoors (great when we have  freezing winter days) and if you like talking to and helping people it’s a good job. Make sure you see a dentist in action - talk to your own dentist about the pros and cons of becoming a dentist. However, what might bother one person may not affect you. Do not do dentistry just because someone tells you to. It involves a lot of hard work and possible stress - it is important to enjoy your degree and job. 

Joanna Batt
Clinical Lecturer in Restorative Dentistry and Admissions Tutor for Dentistry

Jo BAtt 2I chose to become a dentist because I knew I wanted to work with people and liked the mixture between science and art which Dentistry seemed to offer.

I completed my BDS at the University of Birmingham in 2007, then undertook VT training in Bristol. I worked in NHS and private practices until 2011, when I joined the University of Birmingham as a Lecturer.

The best thing about my job is the mixture of teaching, treating patients, research, admissions work – I like having different roles and responsibilities. The most challenging part is trying to fit it all into my working days!

If you think you are the right person for the job then don’t let people put you off applying. Don’t let others tell you what you should do as a career – it is your decision!

Paul Carroll BDS MClinDent (Prosthodontics) Pg Cert Med Ed MFGDP (UK) FHEA
Principal dentist and clinical lecturer

Paul Carroll

I had an accident while doing a paper round when I was fourteen - I fell off my bike and smashed my front teeth. Fortunately, I was treated at the dental hospital in Birmingham who saved my teeth. I was inspired by the treatment I received and decided that I wanted to be a dentist.

I completed my dental degree at the University of Sheffield. Since that time I have completed a dual master degree in clinical dentistry at Kings College London and a postgraduate certificate in medical education at the University of Cardiff. I am a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and a Fellow of the Higher Education Authority.

The best thing about my job is the satisfaction that you get when you are able to help a patient, enabling them to smile again with confidence. (This is especially the case if the patient is nervous and you are able to build their confidence.) The most challenging part of my job as a practice owner is dealing with all the red tape and ensuring you remain compliant with all the relevant bodies.

My typical day in practice starts at 8:15 with a quick debrief of the day with my staff. The first patient is booked at 8:30 with the morning session running until 12:30 with an emergency slot from 12:30-1:00 which is reserved for patients who require urgent attention. Lunch from 1:00-2:00 (assuming we are running to time which isn’t always the case) then afternoon surgery 2:00 -5:30. Once the last patient has left (which sadly is quite often after 5:30) I complete any necessary referral letters and other admin and hopefully head home between 6 and 6:30. It is not a 9-5 job - you can’t just finish at 5pm and walk away. You need to look after your patients’ best interest which often means working late and providing out of hours emergency care 365 days a year!

To anyone thinking of becoming a dentist, I would say go for it and work hard to get the A-levels you need.

Jonathan Fitton
General Dental Practitioner and part-time Clinical Tutor at Birmingham Dental Hospital

I have often been asked why I chose dentistry as a career and it’s a question I find quite difficult to answer concisely. I have always been a problem solver and a “doer”, and although I studied sciences at A level at school, I had a strong artistic streak. It seemed natural then that I should fall into a profession that requires the ability to think on your feet, and have an easy appreciation of form and function. Oh, and it also helps if you’re a relaxed, sociable individual as well.

I did my undergraduate training at Leeds University Dental Hospital and qualified in 1983 and yes, I know this is a long time ago! I spent the first few years following graduation in general practice, then to help satisfy my urge to see the world from a different aspect, I worked for two years as a volunteer dentist in the Maldives. Before you think “you lucky so-and -so”, let me assure you I didn’t live on the beautiful pristine tourist islands, everyday life there can be very tough for the locals. Coming back from my time abroad, I then embarked on my post-graduate training for an MSc in prosthetic dentistry (dentures and replacement bits and bobs basically). This I did at the Eastman Dental Hospital in London. After that I returned to general practice, running my own practice for 17 years and now spending a day a week teaching at Birmingham Dental Hospital.

Dentistry can be an immensely satisfying job for those who like applying their knowledge directly; fixing things, focusing on a job, getting under the bonnet as it were. The real challenge is doing this fiddly stuff whilst being a good human and empathising with your patients. It’s all too easy to get lost in the task and forget there is a real life person in your chair. As a career dentistry allows you to set your own path; your job will be what you make it. As you can see I have had a varied career. I decided early on there were things I wanted from my job and pursing dentistry has allowed me to achieve them.

Put the above possible career pathways and the potentially technically satisfying aspects of dentistry together and you have the makings of a very interesting job. It’s not without challenges however, and everyone thinking about doing dentistry should be aware of these:

  • In recent years dentistry has been subjected to an avalanche of regulation and there is a dark shadow of aggressive litigation against dentists which is very unsettling. 

  • It can be a very solitary and claustrophobic job, working in one room for protracted periods of time. You need to be comfortable in your own head!

  • Dentistry is surprisingly physical. You need to keep fit to do the job well for a long time.

It’s very easy for those at the end of their careers to pontificate to those about to embark. The challenges that they are going to face will be very different. Having said that here are my pearls of wisdom:

  • Have a plan. This can change but have a plan.

  • Postgraduate training is important.

  • Vary your career to maintain interest and avoid loneliness.

  • Focus on doing your best for your patients. Success is built on this.

Good luck!

Lucy Flanaghan
Associate Dentist in General Dental Practice, Clinical Dental Tutor at University of Birmingham Dental School, Retired Dental Officer, Royal Air Force Dental Branch

Lucy Flanaghan

I chose dentistry because I needed more than my fair share of dental treatment as a child and so had met dozens of dentists and dental specialists by the time I was 12 years old. The treatment, the dental surgeries and the equipment interested me from the start and when I thought about careers, the dentists who had helped me seemed obvious choices to ask for work experience placements.

I studied my Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) at Bristol University and then joined the Royal Air Force as a Dental Officer. I travelled far and wide with the RAF treating military and civilian patients at home and abroad. I also took postgraduate membership examinations for the Royal College of Surgeons of England. I left the military after 7 years and settled into general dental practice in Worcestershire. I now also work at Birmingham Dental Hospital as a Clinical Dental Tutor to the final year BDS students.

The best part of my job is the constant variety of any given day which means the job is never boring - there is nothing more rewarding than relieving a patients pain and suffering and that is something I get to do often. The most challenging part is that motivating and educating patients to make lasting lifestyle changes can be very challenging and it can take a long time. The rewards of a treatment well performed are many but a good positive relationship with a patient, which benefits their health long term, takes a lot of work.

It has been 15 years since I qualified and there are still many aspects of my career I want to explore further. If you are good with your hands, like meeting a lot of people and working in a team then dentistry is a very rewarding career but make sure those ARE things you enjoy. Most careers in dentistry need you to be dexterous, a good communicator and a good team member. I wish when I chose dentistry that I had known just how varied the job of a dentist can be - I had an idea of the general practice roles and some specialists but the world of special care dentists, military dentists, academic dentists and teaching dentistry never occurred to me. Had I known then what I know now I would have been keener to study dentistry because studying dentistry is the gateway to a huge number of roles in our profession as well earning the BDS degree.

In the practice I am in my surgery by 8.45am having dropped my children at school. I am very lucky to have a cup of tea waiting for me and I check through patient notes for the day - I have worked in the same place for 6 years now so I know most patients well, but I like being prepared so I look at their x-rays and scans. My nurse is usually several steps ahead of me and has any crowns or bridges I am fitting ready and I have usually checked them before the fitting day. We see our first patient at 9am and some are 10 minute check-ups, 30 minute fillings, or 90 minutes for root canal appointments. I treat patients from a few months old to 100+ years old and all have slightly different needs. New patients come for assessments or occasionally needing emergency pain relief. By lunch we have seen a dozen or so patients for a range of different procedures. We have lunch as a team in our staff room and chat. Reflecting on the highs and lows has always been something I have enjoyed doing the working day. I see patients again until 5pm then go and collect my children.

In the dental hospital I tutor the final year students on their clinical practice sessions.  My day starts with a group tutorial for 45 minutes where we discuss different clinical topics. I then supervise the students treating their own patients, for general dental care, during the rest of the day.  Seeing each patient and procedure through the eyes of the students brings different challenges and rewards. It is amazing how much the students know after 4 years at dental school but also how much there is still to learn. In fact in our career we never stop learning and that is one of the aspects of dentistry that makes the job so enjoyable.

Zoe Hoare

I decided to pursue dentistry due to an interest in science and interacting with people. I did my degree at the University of Bristol, and since then I have obtained an MJDF and HEA Associate Fellowship.

The best thing about my job is being able to relieve people of pain and get to know the community; the most challenging part is worries caused by the risk of litigation. If you are considering a career in dentistry, I would advise doing lots of work experience in different environments - the more the better.

A typical day for me involves a mix of examinations, restorative, and prosthetic work for NHS and private patients from 9am-5pm. One day a week I do private treatments between 5-7pm.

I wish I had known at the start of my career that dentistry is harder than it looks! It isn’t all about the clinical skills and so much rests upon your relationship with your patient.

Usha Murria
Associate Dentist and Clinical Dental Tutor

Usha Murria

I chose dentistry because I always wanted to work in the healthcare sector and have face to face patient contact. I carried out work experience at the dental practice I had been going to since a child and found the multitude of skill sets required to be a dentist attracted me to the profession. In particular, I enjoyed the level of patient contact, and the importance of good communication skills with both patients and the team.

I studied at the University of Birmingham. Since qualifying I did my MFDS, then continued as GDP in general practice. I became an Educational Supervisor for a number of years, and then became a part time clinical dental tutor at the University of Birmingham. I wish I had known the importance of maintaining a good work-life balance and how this can help reduce stress levels when I started.

The best part of my job is the patient contact, especially getting to know them and the satisfaction of helping them with their dental needs. I enjoy the fact that in general practice no day is the same, and each patient has their own individual needs. The most challenging part is changing behaviour patterns - as a dentist I always wants to be able to provide the best level of care for the patient, but I struggle where patients do not share the same enthusiasm for the dental care.

I spend most of my time with a variety of different patients, managing all sorts of their dental needs and care. Dentistry is a challenging but rewarding career - if you have a genuine care for helping others and an interest in field then dentistry is the right career for you.

Alice Parr BDS (Hons.) MSc (Dist.) MFDS (RCS Edin) Junior clinical lecturer at University of Birmingham (starting August 2020)

I was unsure of what to do aged 15, but knew that I liked both science and design technology. I thought about becoming an architect or furniture designer for a while but was worried I wasn’t creative enough – and was better and smaller, copying tasks. At a similar time, I visited my own dentist who happened to be a friend’s mum and she suggested I did some work experience – knowing what I was like as student and character. During the work experience I decided dentistry would suit me well!

I graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2015, undertook foundation dental training in Colindale, North London in the Central London Scheme for one year in a busy NHS practice, then undertook Dental Core Training in Barnet Hospital in Maxillofacial, dealing with A&E patients, surgery and outpatient clinics. I was then an associate dentist for two years in Hertfordshire, and in 2019 I completed a part-time Masters in Restorative Dentistry at the University of Birmingham.

The best thing about my job is the variety – the ability to have the same degree as your colleagues but choose a sub-speciality in which to focus. I love talking to friends whose passion is something completely different, but in the same profession. I will be embarking on a hospital career, with involvement in education and research – but I have friends who love general practice and some who have gone into dental public health. I think there is something for everyone.

In general practice I found dealing with the business side of dentistry, and the conversations around cost, payment, and salary difficult. This is something I didn’t really appreciate until I started working and is one of the (smaller) reasons I have decided to re-enter hospital. I think is mostly down to my character, and conversely many dentists really enjoy this part of the career and go on to become more involved in the business of dentistry. I wish I knew when I started that dentistry was a self-employed job! I would have liked to appreciate that the salary is varied and dependent on where you work, what sort of work you do and the challenges this brings. Sometimes the line between self-employment and employment can become fuzzy and difficult to navigate!

For my associate days in practice, I arrive between 8 and 8.30am to check the day list and lab work for the day. Between 9am-1pm I have patients - I try to have treatments during the morning, especially if they are complex or extractions. 1-2pm is my lunch break and/or catch up with notes, followed by more patients from 2-5:30pm. All appointments are booked in advance, and we reserve some slots for emergencies if needed. I work until 8pm once a week, and a Saturday once every other week – this is common as an associate and expected in many practices.

As a clinical dental tutor at the University of Birmingham I supervise fifth year dental students on their patient clinics and deliver small group tutorials. The specifics of my new clinical lecturer role are currently unknown, but will involve a PhD as a research element, a teaching and educational role within the University, and some clinical roles leading to restorative training once the PhD is finished.

Marie-Claire Parsons
General Dental Practitioner, Training Programme Director for Dental Foundation Training & Dental Mentor for Health Education England, Dental Tutor at University of Birmingham

Marie-Claire Parsons

I chose my career because I was good at sciences and arts at school and completed work experience with an inspirational dentist. My first degree was at the University of Birmingham, and I undertook further training at the Faculty of General Dental Practice (postgraduate dentistry) and the University of Birmingham (medical education), as well as coaching and mentoring at the Institute of Leadership and Management.

The best things about my job are caring for patients, working in a team, variety, and the fact that it is both an art and a science. The most challenging part is managing expectations of both patients and colleagues.

Half my week involves caring for patients to improve their dental health, and working in a close-knit dental team. The other half is teaching and supporting young colleagues at undergraduate or first year in practice level to reach their full potential in terms of communication, practical skills, and knowledge. I also support colleagues who find themselves in hot water with the regulators and help them to get back on track.

I wish I had known when I started that I would need such resilience to survive the pressures of dentistry. It is a stressful profession but after over 30 years in dentistry, I would choose it again without hesitation. If you love meeting people, (even the grumpy ones), have a caring nature and a creative flare - this is the job for you.

Hussein Patanwala BDS (U.Birm), MFGDP, MFDS RCS, MJDF RCS, CRDP, DipAMID, MSc, PGCMEd, FHEA Clinical lecturer in restorative dentistry at the University of Birmingham, Head of Firm for final year dentistry, principal dentist and owner of two dental practices in Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield.

Hussein Patanwala

In my early years I was always a keen artist and musical, playing alto saxophone since the age of 10. Sport was also a big part of my life, representing my county in both cricket and hockey. But my strongest influences came from my family: my father was a doctor, mother a science teacher, and my older sister a dentist. Academically, I felt most interested in science and knew a medical degree, dentistry or medicine was the best way forward. After a lot of work experience in both areas I was sure that dentistry was my first choice.

My undergraduate degree was at the University of Birmingham and post graduate training at the Royal College of Surgeons, Eastman Dental Institute (UCL) and finally King’s College London. In addition to my main roles I am now a Key Opinion leader for a number of the world’s leading dental manufacturers.

The best thing about my job is that it affords me the option of variety, as a lecturer to undergraduates and postgraduates nationally and internationally, conducting research, and working in general practice. The most challenging part is that it is really difficult to find the time for all the amazing opportunities available to you - dentistry is truly a rewarding profession that constantly challenges you and allows you to make a difference every day.

A typical day would see me up early to do some paperwork and then a nice walk to the dental clinic. Meet my patients/friends at the practice and make sure they are healthy. Phone calls, emails, and social media at lunch. In the afternoon spend some time teaching at the University of Birmingham. Then take the evening flight to Switzerland finishing off writing my lecture on the way, ready for the next day.If you are thinking about becoming a dentist I would get as much insight into the profession as possible, speaking to as many dentists as you can. Appreciate that there are many different aspects to dentistry: clinical, non-clinical, research, and academia.

Ian Preston
Director of a Private Dental Practice, part time Clinical Lecturer at Birmingham Dental Hospital

Ian Preston

I chose to study dentistry because I had a desire to follow a medically based career and having spent time with people involved in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy I felt dentistry offered the best combination of direct patient contact and practical clinical care involving elements of aesthetic creativity and technical problem solving.

I completed my undergraduate training at the University of Birmingham in 1990 and then gained further qualifications from The Royal College of Surgeons, The University of London and most recently an MSc from University College London.

The best thing about my job is the variety it brings to each working day, particularly because I undertake several professional roles blended over each week. These range from running a dental practice which provides employment to thirteen people, to providing dental care for my patients within that practice, to supporting undergraduate and post graduate clinical education for fellow dentists and dental therapists.

The most challenging aspects of the job are associated with trying to achieve the best clinical outcomes for patients while balancing the needs of those patients with the available resources. That may be ensuring good value for money while maintaining high standards of care or providing that care as efficiently as possible when time constraints are tight or ensuring the right staff are available in the right place at the right time to allow clinics to run smoothly and safely.

My advice to anyone considering training to be a dentist is to reflect upon your aptitudes. You need to like people and be a good communicator, you need to be artistic and enjoy practical work as much as cerebral work, you need to embrace attention to detail rather than be frustrated by it, be resilient and be happy to take responsibility. If you don’t identify with the above, then alternative degrees may be more rewarding for you.

The knowledge I would have found most useful before embarking upon a career in dentistry is an understanding of how dentistry is actually provided in the U.K. Specifically the ways that it is structured, funded and managed and how these variables impact upon the profession in terms of clinical constraints and opportunities, professional development and job satisfaction.

Oliver Smart
General Dental Practitioner and Clinical Tutor at Birmingham Dental School

Oliver Smart

I chose to become a dentist for a career where I get to meet a lot of people and to use my hands. I did my BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) at Liverpool and since then have done postgraduate qualifications in endodontics and attained membership of The Royal College of Surgeons and a Masters degree in Restorative Dentistry.

The best thing about my job is helping people achieve a healthier (sometimes better looking) mouth, whereas the most challenging is balancing peoples desires and expectations with their financial goals. I wish I had known when choosing my career that graduating with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery was just the start…

Depending on the clinic I am in I will see up to 20 patients a day, from giving advice on their mouths, to performing operative dentistry doing fillings, crowns, root canal treatments etc. In another clinic I provide adult orthodontics often coupled with restorative dentistry. If I am teaching at the Dental Hospital, I will be supervising undergraduates whilst they treat their own patients. Dentistry is a challenging career and requires constant learning – if you enjoy learning and are good with your hands this is a great career for you.


Karishma Dewitt
Dental student, 3rd year


Karishma Dewitt

I chose to study dentistry because I really wanted a healthcare based course with a focus on practical skills and patient centred care. I like working with people and wanted the opportunity to make a real difference. I carried out some work experience which confirmed my interest in dentistry, and I also spoke to students already studying the course at different universities. I then attended open days and researched the courses on university websites.

I would definitely recommend going to open days to get a feel for the environments at different Universities/Dental Schools - dentistry is 5 years, so it’s important that you carefully choose where you want to spend this time. Speak to current students where possible – they won't bite and are in a good position to give advice, seeing as they've been through it all before.

When you’re studying at university, organise your study environment and try to get familiar with the online library and resources you have available on your course page. A really great site to read up on anatomy is - it’s got a great deal of diagrams and simplified introductions to a variety of topics you will cover in years 1-2 and will need to apply later on. Finally, keep a balance where possible - it's important that you stay organised but try to have fun at the same time. Talk to your peers on off your course and join some societies. Being able to switch off from Dentistry at times is important to avoid burn out.

My favourite thing about my course is how small it is – we are a very tight knit community of students and everyone is very supportive of each other both in lectures and on clinics. It makes a big difference. The staff also get to know you really well, and are generally always up to offer guidance/advice whenever possible.

My biggest achievement has been becoming more confident in general and eager to make the most of opportunities that come my way. Being student representative in my first year helped with this to an extent and so did making links with more people outside of my course when attending societies (e.g. Hindu Society and its Netball team, Sikh society, MedYoga Society).

A challenge was undertaking practical exams in the dental labs (e.g. root canal and filling exams). I found it really hard to carry out  these procedures to a satisfactory standard and really had to work at these a few times. Talking to my supervisor/Clinicians and friends really made a big difference, both in terms of my morale at the time and also gaining focused advice. When I eventually passed these I was overjoyed and so relieved that I didn't give up when things got tough. My techniques really improved and it taught me to keep persevering.

I hope after completing my graduation and foundation year to carry out some Dental Core Training positions in different specialties - especially in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Prosthodontics and Paediatric Dentistry. After this I would really like to find my niche and specialise. I would love to be able to come back to Birmingham and maybe even teach (in the distant future).

Shivani Godhania
Dental student, 2nd year


Shivani Godhania

I always knew that I wanted to pursue a science based degree – science had always been my favourite subject in school. I had narrowed it down to dentistry, then what I found helpful was getting a feel for the degree through work experience. This really helped me decide that I could imagine myself doing this. Attending open days also helped as you really got to see what all the different universities had to offer, and this was very important for me when deciding which universities to apply to, and it helped me realise that no other courses appealed to me as much as dentistry. Birmingham in particular has a lovely dental hospital and I remember how friendly all of the students were on the open day. I could imagine myself really fitting in here!

I chose dentistry because I found it difficult to imagine myself sitting behind a desk and a computer all day, as I love being surrounded by and talking to people. The social aspect of dentistry highly appealed to me as well as the practical aspect. I loved the idea of facing something different every day and being able to provide a service that helps others. Especially after my work experience, seeing how dentists really become a part of the community was lovely, and dentistry doesn't just stop there – there are endless opportunities after you graduate.

When applying to university, it is important that you make sure you are familiar with the different universities' entry requirements. Also, some universities may consider UCAT scores more than others, or some may require you to have more or less work experience. So really do your research so that no application is wasted. There are many videos on YouTube which I found helpful, from personal statement writing to what the dental schools want in their students to interview preparation. For the UCAT I found a website called Medify quite helpful. I had also attended a summer school which helped me gain insight to some of the content I would be studying – this gave me a lot to talk about in interviews and my personal statement.

My advice to students applying to dentistry would be to make sure that you actually find the degree interesting and you are ready to put in the work! The degree has a heavy workload, but with enough hard work you can do very well. There is plenty of support and as long as you put the work in you will be fine. 5 years is a long time so be sure that you are ready to commit and really grab every opportunity you can to help build a strong application.

When you arrive at university, really push yourself out of your comfort zone when making friends, join any societies you like, and really get the most out of your first year experience. Regarding Dentistry, the Dental School staff are all so lovely and helpful, and so are the students in the older years, so don't be afraid to ask for help or assistance. You get eased in to the workload.

Be prepared to stay on-top of your lecture notes! I cannot stress this enough! It will really help you out further down the line.

My favourite thing about the course so far has to be the social aspect and the University. Everyone is so lovely and helpful; the Dental school and University as a whole really does offer support for anything you need, and if you ever have any concerns there is always someone to talk to. I have had the opportunity to meet so many people and make so many amazing friends, and I look forward to what the next few years have in store.

There is always so much going on outside of your degree too. Joining a dance society was something I'd always wanted to do, so I had joined Just Bollywood which gave me the opportunity to meet people across the university, and the whole experience was so fun. One of the most exciting points during my time at university, was whilst participating in Just Bollywood, when the University of Birmingham came second in the national competition. This shows just how rewarding putting time into other activities outside of your degree can be. There is a society or a sports team for everyone, so really make the most of these opportunities. I have also been lucky enough to me involved with mentoring schemes which has been really rewarding.

In first year I found that managing the workload was quite challenging, however after a while, once I had figured out what worked for me, I was a lot more confident. For example, I found that just trying to memorise notes by reading over them again and again was not effective enough. Flash cards and asking myself questions work a lot better for me when revising. Also, keeping on top of lecture notes is something I highly recommend you do to save yourself stressing closer to exams.

Participating in Routes to the Professions: Dentistry really helped as it gave me the opportunity to have a mentor who was studying the course. I was able to ask questions and get great advice from someone who had been in my shoes and successfully secured a place in dental school. The visits to the University gave me a feel of what actually studying the course is like, and the mock interviews were also very helpful. I know I would not be in the position I am in without the support I received through these programmes.

Talia Harris
Dental student, 1st year

Talia Harris

I chose dentistry as I saw that it was a profession which combined my love for science with interacting and helping other people, as well as requiring manual dexterity. I chose my course by looking through University prospectus guides and attending the University Open days which gave me a feel for what it would be like to study dentistry and the departments and resources available at that university.

I used Medify and The Medic Portal a significant amount throughout the whole application process. Medify especially came in handy for doing practice questions for the UCAT, I found it particularly useful as the questions are formatted in a very similar way to the actual UCAT. The Medic Portal has an abundance of information ranging from NHS topic to MMI practice questions. The UCAS website also has lots information tailored to a dental application.

If you are thinking of studying dentistry, make sure that your interest in dentistry is genuine – the application process is long, there are a lot of hurdles, it’s gruelling, and at times it can be disheartening. If you really want to become a dentist, your passion will shine through.

My favourite thing about the course is the variety in teaching methods we’ve had throughout First Year, from small group teachings to lectures and practicals – it has made learning easier and more interesting. My biggest achievement has been adjusting to living away from home, cooking and cleaning, while at the same time keeping up with work! Getting the balance between work and having a life was initially hard. You are given so much freedom but also so much work, by establishing a good routine and sticking to it, thankfully, I was able to have both.

Tammy Kwartz
Dental student, 1st year


Tammy Kwartz

When I chose to observe my local dentist for some work experience in year 11, I saw first-hand what an amazing profession it is. Dentistry allows an amazing continuation of care as many of the patients had been coming to the practice for decades. The skill and patience I saw in the dentist as he worked meticulously throughout the day inspired me, as every patient that came in with a complaint or problem was left satisfied and in considerably more comfort than they were than they came in!

Since choosing dentistry in year 11 I spent a lot of my time looking at university websites. From those pages I gained a lot of insight into the structure of each university course and how the program was divided over the 5 years of study. I attended open days at the universities I was planning to apply to which allowed me to see the buildings and campuses for myself and ensured that I could see myself studying at each. It also helped me to mentally rank my universities as to which one I wanted to go to the most and least, which was helpful when deciding which offers to accept and reject.

There are many stages to the application process and each one has unique resources that can help with that particular part. Medify is great for UCAT prep as it helps with both question technique and timing University websites and YouTube are great for finding out more about each university and their programmes. Interview prep books for MMIs are useful to get used to the types of questions that can potentially be asked in an interview.

My advice is to focus on one step at a time! From the start of the application process at the end of year 12, it may seem like the end is so far off. Just focus on the stage you are currently in and don't think too far ahead. Year 13 goes very quickly and even though the process is stressful, it’s worth it in the end.

With so much content to cover and so many different elements, take time at the beginning of your course to trial out different methods of note taking, session preps, and revision. There is no one size fits all method and even if you have different methods for anatomy than physiology, it doesn't matter!

My favourite part of the course is practicals! I love getting to try out first hand things that we learn in lectures or tutorials. Whether it’s trying out ECGs on each other or using a drill for the first time, it’s exciting to get stuck in! My personal achievement is getting a super high score on one of the essays I submitted for a module. I spent lots of time on it and was super passionate about the work I put into my writing.

My biggest challenge at university was coping with the course load. I found breaking things up into manageable chunks and having a well thought out revision plan / work schedule to be useful in ensuring I had tackled all the work I had to do when I needed to do it.

Sarah Mehanna
Dental student, 1st year

Sarah Mehanna


I knew I wanted to work in healthcare but wasn’t sure on the exact profession, so I did work experience in various fields and spoke to professionals (friends and family) to help me to choose. After choosing dentistry, I selected my course by attending open days and speaking to family friends that were in older years in my course.

I would advise people applying for dentistry to make sure you have a general awareness of topical issues and controversies in dentistry before you go for your interview. There are lots of examples of ‘ethical scenarios’ online that are very useful to look at, and think through how you would respond to them. Also, make sure you take advantage of the professionals at your work experience and ask them questions about the profession.

Once you get to university, try and understand as much as you can during the lecture rather than relying on recordings to watch back later. This will save you a lot of time. Only use recordings for clarification or things that you missed in the lecture – try not to watch back every lecture from start to finish as this is really time consuming.

Each UoB student is entitled to a free language course! I studied advanced Spanish and the course was really well organised and loads of fun.