Dentistry grads ready to go

Dr Sai Pabbati (third from the right) with fellow graduates.

Personnel Image

Written By

Andrew Cramb


College of Medicine and Dentistry

Publish Date

17 December 2021

Related Study Areas

Persistence pays off for JCU Dentistry Class of 2021

After five years of perseverance and hard work, and with the added challenges of COVID-19, our fifth-year Dentistry students became qualified dental practitioners.

Head of JCU Dentistry Professor Peter Thomson says the academic and administration team are proud of the students efforts and are confident they're ready to join the profession as dental practitioners.

“It’s a tremendous feeling, seeing our students graduate and go out into the world of clinical practice. As clinical teachers, we share a great sense of pride that our students are now joining our profession and will contribute to providing world-class health care to our communities,” Prof Thomson said.

“JCU Dentistry places a huge emphasis on producing graduates who are ready for practice. If you’ve reached this point, you can be assured you’re equipped with all the necessary skills, resilience, and ability to commence your life-long journey as dental practitioners.”

A few of our graduating Class of 2021 recently shared what’s in store for them in 2022 and how their studies and rural placements...

Phoebe Marten in the JCU Dental Clinic
Dentistry Grad_Phoebe Marten
Left: Phoebe Marten at the JCU Dental clinic in Cairns. Right: Phoebe after the Graduation Ceremony in Cairns.

Phoebe Marten: discovering a love of public dentistry

I was undecided about my career up until the final days before putting my preference in year 12. I travelled up to Cairns with a friend for a JCU Dentistry open day and from then I was sold! I loved the idea of being able to be a part of the health care system, treat patients and produce positive impacts on their life, as well as being active in my day-to-day job, being creative and using my hands.

My placement in public health at Ingham Hospital. I loved the clinical independence and personal growth. The oral health service has a large patient load each day which improved my efficiency and time management. The team made me feel so welcome and taught me so much. I was able to make friendships that will last forever. All of the patients were always very thankful for treatment, friendly and understanding.

My placement at Ingham hospital instilled in me a passion for public dentistry in the aspects of providing equitable health services for those in need. I especially love being a part of an active movement to work towards closing the gap with our first nation patients and working within a skilled multidisciplinary team in the public sector. Following this passion, I have secured a full-time job in Queensland Health in my hometown of Townsville for 2022.

Having now graduated and been awarded the Henry Schein prize for clinical excellence I feel immensely proud of myself for how far I have come since my first year of University. I remember in first-year thinking that 5 years of University would feel like forever however it went by in a blink of an eye! it’s a very surreal feeling to be out in the real world as a registered dental practitioner. I was stoked to be nominated for and subsequently awarded the Henry Schein prize for clinical excellence in Dentistry at my graduation ceremony. I felt as though all of my hard work had finally come together and paid off as I walked across the stage at graduation and were appointed my bachelor degree."

Americo Gomez-Kunicki: Seeing the need in rural towns

I’m looking forward to getting back home and serving my community. I come from a small rural town on the east coast of Canada. They've only got two dentists there and they're both getting close to retirement age. It’s one of the main reasons I decided to come here and do my studies because JCU has such a strong focus on rural health.

I wasn't sure at first if it was the rural lifestyle in Australia was going to be vastly different to the rural lifestyle in Canada, but at the end of the day, I think JCU has really prepared me for it. Certainly, my studies and placements have me more passionate and inclined to work in a rural setting. When you see the need, it draws out that compassion, rather than seeing it as ‘let’s do the work as just a job’.

I've been away from my family for two years and away from my wife for a year so I can’t wait to get home! When I'm all done here I'm probably going to take a little while off and I'm just going to catch up with my wife and my family and live life to the fullest for a little bit before getting into work!

America with class-mate Sai at graduation
America receiving his certificate
Left: Americo Gomez-Kunicki with classmate Sai Pabbati. Right: Americo receiving his bachelor's certificate

Lesley Nye: Returning home to help her local community

Five years ago, Lesley Nye left her hometown of Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast to study dentistry at JCU in Cairns. In a few weeks’ time, she’ll be returning home as a qualified oral health practitioner, and she’s ready and raring to help her community. Preparing Lesley for her new role were her final-year rural placement experiences in Proserpine and Townsville.

“I learnt important skills in time management, patient-centred treatment planning, teamwork and I was able to build my general skills to a level where I was much more confident in my ability to work more independently.

“The placement was challenging, and I really felt like I was being empowered to be an independent clinician. That’s not to say that I wasn’t given support whenever I needed it though. I got to know my supervisors and have the opportunity to learn in a one-on-one environment.

Lesley has some advice for our fourth-year students who are about to embark on their rural placements in 2022.

“Be open to new experiences and make the absolute most of wherever you go! Ask the locals where to go, go out exploring. I loved the atmosphere of the small town we were in! It was so bustling and there were always things we could go and see and go out swimming or hiking.”

I chose to work with Queensland Health on the Sunshine Coast because I wanted to be a positive influence in the oral health of my local community. My family have lived in Caloundra for many years, and I feel like it is time to give back in my own small way.

Lesley (fourth from the right) and other students at a QLD Health training day at Mackay Hospital

Image supplied Lesley Nye

Discover JCU Dentistry

Find your tropical health adventure with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery.