“I love that in dentistry you can take care of a whole health issue. If someone has a sore tooth, you can stop the problem for them. It’s holistic, and it can be preventative, and I will get a lot of satisfaction from being able to help people in this way.”
With most practising dentists located in major cities or inner regional areas, it is perhaps of little surprise that tooth and gum diseases are more common in rural and remote parts of Australia. JCU Dentistry is committed to equipping students like Dave to go out to underserved communities to address the need for improved dental health services.
“When I graduate I want to work in a rural hospital or mobile dental clinic. Though these facilities are generally smaller and have fewer resources, they play a vital role in the provision of community-wide integrated health services,” Dave says.
Dave’s wife, Julia, is also a JCU graduate and is currently doing her PhD at JCU. He says she has been a constant support and encouragement for him, as well as a terrific mum to their young son.
“Julia loves that we can bring our son up here in the bush. It is challenging raising a young family, studying and living in a remote location but I think the community support and the friendships that you make will draw you back there - there's nothing else like it,” Dave says.
While Dave’s upbringing and family life give him a natural affinity to serving outback communities, he encourages his fellow students to go where the need is, saying it also comes with plenty of opportunities on offer as well.
“I’d encourage every student to seek out rural experiences. You’ll see more cases and get a level of exposure to a range of dental issues you probably wouldn’t get in the city,” Dave says.