With starting university just on the horizon, here are my top five tips for preparing to study at University and how you can make the most out of your experience:
- Invest in an academic calendar and diary – These are both student essentials. Sadly, with university comes numerous deadlines, compulsory tutorials and exams! Keeping on top of your organisation will make the whole experience a lot easier and mean that you can enjoy your free time knowing you have your academic deadlines under control. Also, when studying dentistry you will at some stage need to book in your own patients. Having a clinic diary will mean that you won’t waste sessions by not having a patient booked in and you will know who are expecting at which appointment.
- Register for student discount sites and collect together important documents – Many shops offer student discounts to university students. This is a great way to cut down on spending. The majority of shops will accept a university card as evidence of being a student. However, sites such as Unidays allow you to shop online and get a discount. Collect together your important documents such as passport, drivers licence and national insurance numbers. It’s likely that you will need these for your DBS check required to start dentistry as well as if you start a new job.
- Meet student finance deadlines and apply for a student bank account – Missing deadlines set out by student finance could mean that you might start the term without any funding or way of paying your rent. Make sure that you have submitted the required evidence to student finance before their deadline. They have a high number of students applying for finance over the summer so missing these deadlines means that you might not have any income for fresher’s. You will also need to apply for a student bank account which can give you access to an interest free overdraft for when funds are low. This link compares the current student bank accounts available, some come with perks such as a 16-25 railcard!
- Join Facebook groups for your university and course – It is often possible to join groups on Facebook for your University, course, halls or any societies that you might be interested in. This is a great way to get a feel for events that are happening at the university and also chat to those who will be in your halls or on your course. Getting to know those who you will be studying or living with can stop you feeling nervous about starting university and there will be a few familiar faces when you join.
- Collect together a few of your favourite things from home – Having a few home luxuries such as your favourite teas or family photo in a frame will help you to settle into your new home and stop you from feeling home sick. Most student halls look very similar so it helps to have a few home comforts to make your room unique.
Best of luck with results day!
Life as a dental student at King’s starts out much like any other degree. The first year is spent getting to know other students, coming to terms with having to budget, attending science based lectures and taking the occasional wrong tube somewhere.
Prior to learning about the clinical hands-on skills required within dentistry, lectures are given on basic physiology. This then moves towards a dental focus by second year. We learnt about the development of teeth, head and neck anatomy from human cadavers and tooth morphology by making teeth out of wax with the help the of dental technicians.
Having a basic understanding of the principles of dentistry, we then started learning simple caries removal techniques and practicing filling teeth with a variety of materials. This is through the use of phantom heads on the clinical skills floor and provides the knowledge needed to start treating real life patients. We first started treating patients at the end of second year. I remember arriving over an hour early to read my patient’s notes, set up the dental bay and talk through the case with my clinical tutor. Although treating your first patient is a huge hurdle, at King’s you are eased into the process slowly by first providing oral hygiene advice and a simple scale and polish. This is all done under the close supervision from your clinical tutor.
Fast forward to now, I am currently waiting to head into my fourth year of dentistry. This year has been spent completing basic fillings, treating my first denture case and extracting my first few teeth. At King’s the timetable works in a way that you have a set day for each time of dental treatment. For example, we have a set day for seeing denture patients and another day for treating gum disease. This means you have a clinical tutor who has a special interest in that area and you can easily prepare for whichever treatment you have planned for the next day. Throughout second year to the end of fourth year we are partnered up with another student in the year and take it in turns to nurse for each other. This means that you can observe your partners work and learn from their experiences as well as your own. It’s a great opportunity to get used to working in a team with your dental nurse and enjoy working alongside one of your peers.
The most rewarding part about studying dentistry has to be the patients. There is no better feeling than meeting a patient for the first time, listening to their concerns, diagnosing their problems and completing their treatment. Often at the first meeting you might doubt your own abilities or feel that the treatment is out of your capabilities. However, challenging cases is where you learn the most about dentistry. It is so satisfying to meet your patient again at the review stage and see how happy they are with the outcome after many long appointments of hard work.
One of my other favourite parts of studying dentistry so far has to be seeing my own skills develop throughout the years. To begin with a simple filling would easily take me the whole two hour appointment but now I am much more efficient and feel confident enough to finish a filling with minimal guidance. Another high point has to be extracting my first tooth during oral surgery. I’m not a huge fan of blood so this was probably the thing I was most nervous about, thankfully when it came to it I was completely fine and enjoyed the experience.
I’m most looking forward to my paediatric and orthodontic clinics next year and I’m starting to look into my elective. This is an optional placement during the summer of next year, in which you can either stay in the UK or travel overseas to experience dentistry in another culture. Although I’m not too sure where in the world I want to go yet!
During sixth form and throughout school, I’d never considered dentistry as a career. I hadn’t had much exposure to dentistry other than a yearly check-up in which I hadn’t required any treatment. Because of this, I applied to study Medical Science and set about pursuing a career in designing and running clinical trials for large pharmaceutical companies.
As part of my medical science degree I spent a year in Sydney, Australia in a sleep medicine facility. During this time, I met a dentist that fitted mouth splints for those who suffer with obstructive sleep apnoea, a condition in which the airways close in sleep causing a drop in blood oxygen saturation. This was the first instance in which I had exposure to how wide a career dentistry could be and the number of different specialities it included.
On my return to the UK, I also decided to undergo orthodontic treatment and I became interested in the aesthetic possibilities within dentistry. After completing two weeks work experience at my local dentist, I was sure that I wanted to pursue a career in dentistry. I like the hands on nature of the role, interacting with patients and also the wide range of opportunities there are within in dentistry including managing your own practice.
Prior to starting at King’s I was slightly nervous about being a mature student and worried about whether I would get along with other students. However, at King’s there is such a wide spectrum of students that this wasn’t a problem. Within dentistry students come from so many different backgrounds. Some have previously had careers within finance, others join after finishing a medical degree as well as there being international students from across the globe. The diversity of students is certainly one of the best things about studying at King’s. I’ve met such a variety of people as well as learning about different cultures, religions and traditions.
Although I think I underestimated the amount of work required when studying dentistry (I wrongly thought it couldn’t be more hectic than my final year of my medical science degree!), I haven’t regretted committing to another four years at university. It can be frustrating to see my peers graduating and heading out into the world of work, however, they are often jealous of my schedule and I’ve found most people stay in London for graduate schemes so there is always someone to catch up with. Also, as the vast majority of the dentistry course at King’s involves practical work, the past two years have flown past and every day is completely different. The patient interaction makes it more than worth it.
Whatever your journey to applying to study dentistry at King’s or your reasons for wanting to become a dentist, there is something for everyone at King’s College London. Throughout the course there are many different opportunities to get involved with a variety of dental specialities, as well as there being several high profile dental conferences and talks within London to attend.
View over London from Bush House (Strand campus)
It is safe to say that studying in London is an experience unlike any other. I think one of the main concerns all students have before heading to London is the worry of how expensive studying in London can be. With the cost of rent and living in London being higher, the vast majority of student receive extra income from student finance to make up for this. Also, it’s not uncommon for students at King’s to live with family whilst they complete their dental degrees.
London has numerous part time work opportunities which also helps with budgeting, as well as building essential skills required for your C.V. Whilst studying at King’s, I’ve worked as a conference director to organise an international health conference, helped students prepare for Dentistry interviews and showed you guys around as a student ambassador at open days. Managing part time work alongside dentistry can be stressful but I enjoy the experiences that come with it and welcome the distraction from dentistry at times! At King’s there are many opportunities to find part time work internally and externally through the Careers and Employability service, we also have a team of helpful Money Mentors on hand to provide support for your budgeting needs.
St Paul’s Cathedral
Dental students at King’s are renowned for getting involved with extra-circular activities and London is the perfect place to do this, take a look at this video which highlights some of the many hobbies of dental students at King’s, “Not the Usual Drill”. I’m part of the King’s College London Clinical Humanities group who apply humanities hobbies such as art and music to the advancement of dental practice. We visit local galleries across London, host talks with clinical humanities pioneers and catch up for drinks to share ideas. Living in London means that you are never stuck for things to do, King’s close proximity to London Bridges means that you can walk along the Thames, visit the Tate modern or appreciate amazing food at Borough Market. We also have a farmers market on campus every Tuesday so we usually head out of the hospital to pick something up and sit outside on the quad for the lunch break.
London can be hectic and during half term and throughout the summer there are plenty of tourists around. Luckily, simple transport across London means that it is easy to escape by getting the tube to Hampstead Heath or Richmond Park if you are missing the countryside. There is now also the night tube the operates at the weekends meaning that you don’t have to worry about how to get home after an evening out or rely on getting expensive Ubers everywhere.
Hopefully this post has given you a bit of an insight into what it is like being a student at King’s, if you haven’t had a chance to visit the campus at the open days or during interviews, you can join one of our daily campus tours before the start of term and get a feel for the area.
Hello and welcome to the King’s College London Dentistry Student Blog!
My name is Joelle, I’m a student at King’s currently coming to the end of third year. I study Dentistry and I am on the graduate course as I previously completed at degree in Medical Science at Exeter University.
This blog will keep you posted about what it is like to study dentistry at King’s and give you an insight into the life of a dental student. I’ll also be letting you know what it’s like being a student in London and some of the different opportunities I choose to get involved with.
Having studied at King’s now for almost two years, here are two of the things I enjoy the most:
- Being in London – Having moved up here from Devon it’s taken awhile to adjust but I love living in London. There is always so much to do with events, places to visit and tourist hot spots. It is more expensive than other areas in the UK in terms of living costs but it makes up for it in the endless opportunities available.
- The King’s Community – Ever since starting at King’s I’ve been made to feel welcome with introduction talks in the dental course and socials to get to know other students. There is always events taking place on campus especially during exam season which is a welcome distraction. Last term we had puppies on campus which was the perfect distraction from revision.
I will look forward to checking in with you all soon and letting you know what is going on here at King’s Dental Institute. I’ll also be posting some top tips to help you to prepare for life here at King’s so stay tuned.