College of Medicine and Dentistry

Publish Date

9 June 2020

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Filling a gap in rural Australia

For former Sydney-based dentist Peggy Fischer, the opportunity to learn to give someone the smile they’ve always wanted while living and working in beautiful Far North Queensland was too good an opportunity to pass up.

After relocating to Cairns, she enrolled in the Graduate Diploma of Orthodontics at JCU.

“I'd seen how fixing someone’s smile can greatly improve their self-esteem,” Dr Fischer says. “I have seen how satisfying it is to do that and I wanted to learn more.”

The Graduate Diploma of Orthodontics gives graduate dentists the knowledge and clinical and technical skills to identify and treat patients needing orthodontic work.

It aims to help fill a skills gap in rural and regional areas where there isn't easy access to orthodontists.

Dr Fischer says the course includes a great mix of academic learning, clinical experience and research.

“I chose the JCU course because it has the academic component where we learn how to diagnose and plan treatments. It also has a practical component where we get to treat patients in the JCU clinic.

“The experience has been great. We have been able to see a wide range of patients and have been able to use a wide range of treatment modalities.”

For her research component, Dr Fischer is looking into paediatric sleep apnoea.

“We’re lucky to have teachers with a lot of international research experience to support us with our work. On top of that, they also teach us how to put the knowledge we’ve gained into everyday practice.”

Students practice in JCU dentistry facilities
A JCU student consults with a patient at the JCU Dental Clinic
Students working in JCU Dentistry facilities and dental clinic

Flexible study arrangements

The Graduate Diploma of Orthodontics is offered part time over two years. This enables students to continue working while gaining valuable new skills.

Dr Fischer says while she’s chosen to study on campus, the course is also offered externally. She says this gives students the opportunity to combine study, work and family commitments.

“It gives us the flexibility to still have a healthy work-life balance.”

She says she would recommend the course to anyone interested in developing their orthodontic skills.

“It’s been a very valuable experience for me. It offers experienced teachers and practical, relevant content with the flexibility we need.”

Now halfway through the graduate diploma, Dr Fischer believes she’s on track to meet her goals.

“I’ve already learnt a lot through the course. By the time I finish I’ll have the knowledge and skills to improve those smiles… and build that self-esteem.”

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