Dr Omar Ikram on his journey with RACDS and advice to young dentists

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Dr Omar Ikram BDS (Otago), FRACDS, MClinDent (London), MRD (Edinburgh), FICD Specialist in Endodontics Federal Councillor for NSW Australian Society of Endodontology

This article is sponsored content brought to you by the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons.

What advice would you offer young dentists today? 

Make use of your spare time. When you cross that imaginary line called graduation, the idea of going to work, treating patients, coming home and putting your feet up, is very tempting. But putting spare time towards doing Primary Exams or the Final Exams will open doors for you, and most importantly will improve your experience of being a dentist. I meet so many dentists who tell me about the daily grind and that their career has stagnated. Meeting other dentists and putting effort into something which will make your ‘daily grind’ more interesting is definitely worthwhile. A couple of my friends who had recently graduated were getting bored with not being busy at work. So they asked me about the RACDS Primary Exams and ended up getting lots of commendations! It’s satisfying to think that in these times of online education and free CPD that new graduates still really value the face to face experience and the personal satisfaction of achieving a career milestone. 

Tell us about your RACDS experience?

When I sat the RACDS Primary Exams I lived in New Zealand and when I sat the Final exams I lived in the UK. The preparation courses enabled me to meet likeminded colleagues and spend some time in Sydney, which is one of the best cities in the world. The fact that I ended up living here is probably in part due to the positive memories forged when I did RACDS Orientation Courses.

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Completing the Primary Exams was a major achievement for me, I was a young new graduate dentist and the transition from dental student to private practitioner was challenging. Most new graduates find this, but don’t want to discuss it too much.

‘Putting spare time towards doing Primary Exams will open doors for you, and most importantly will improve your experience of being a dentist’

After the first few months of work I decided to do the Primary Exam and that really gave me focus for the year. Passing the Primary Exams really set the tone for the rest of my career. The process made me realise that going back to the basics and learning the science behind what we did every day, was so valuable. In undergraduate training we are really just bombarded with information and clinical work. Gaining a pass is all we really aim for, due to the sheer volume of work. But when we sit the Primary Exams we already have a good base of knowledge, so we essentially add to our already satisfactory knowledge base.

Being a member of the College opens a lot of doors. It makes you part of a special group of clinicians, who have dedicated their out of surgery time to trying to improve their clinical decision making. This then enables them to offer their patients the best evidence-based treatment. 

Now as an examiner in the RACDS General Dentistry program it’s been great to meet like-minded clinicians, who prioritise education of their colleagues as part of their dental career. 

Completing the Primary Exam is a great asset to have on your CV when applying for specialist training and also just for yourself to be proud that your understanding of anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, histology, microbiology and pathology is of the highest standard required for general dentistry. There is a lot of personal satisfaction in knowing that and confidence in clinical dentistry comes with this increased knowledge, this in turn makes work more enjoyable! 

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