The fruits of labour

22 July is a date to be noted in the history of Peninsula Dental School: Professor Elizabeth Kay was able to send the first batch of freshly qualified young dentists into the world!

This was a momentous day for all involved including the staff, students, friends and families.

I was lucky enough to have been able to attend the graduation of the first PDS cohort and what an amazing day it was.

A lot of my friends were in this cohort and this made it a very emotional experience. I was ecstatically happy for each and every one of them, as I had seen first hand what a tough few months it had been and if I was feeling the happiness and relief I can only begin to imagine what the graduates were feeling.

Of the 42 graduates, two relay their experiences of the four years leading up to graduation.

Morteza Mazinanian says: ‘When I first started at Peninsula Dental School four years ago, it was dream come true. Dentistry was a subject I was really interested in and I was able to study this at a brand new school with staff that has remained friendly and helpful throughout!

‘First year was slightly awkward getting used to evidence based learning but it soon proved to be effective. Second year was made difficult by the journey to and from Exeter but this brought the year together as a group and some good friendships were established. Third year concentrated on medicine and was interesting but was a very long and difficult year. Fourth year was all about completing final’s patients and juggling your time to revise and apply for jobs as well.

‘Graduation was amazing! The feeling of knowing that you had completed the degree and to receive a certificate with your BDS qualification was indescribable.

‘I enjoy dentistry because of its challenges. Every patient, every mouth and every tooth is a challenge, some easy and some very difficult. At the same time all aspects of business management and finance also need to be considered. I am hoping to build on my knowledge over the next year on my VT placement in London. My long-term plan is to specialise in restorative dentistry.’

Fellow student Jamie Fellows says: ‘It was interesting to see how the course changed with subsequent years. It was exciting, but very demanding at times and occasionally frustrating being the first students through. However, as the first cohort, we have played a large part in moulding it and assisting with its evolution and I feel that it is now spot on. The fact that we were placed in primary care from day one and that we saw patients very early on I feel put us at a great advantage.

He adds: ‘I have recently become a father of a beautiful baby girl who is now four months old. Having a child has impacted on my plans for the future in a positive way. I know that in the long term I definitely want to stay in general practice and may think about specialising in restorative dentistry in the future. However before this I want to complete my membership of the joint dental faculties (MJDF).’

The establishment of this dentistry course at Peninsula was a dream come true for a lot of the students who had, for one reason or another, not fulfilled this ambition until now. This school was also a dream of Professor Elizabeth Kay who made it a reality and was finally able to see the first graduating cohort from the first new dental school to open in the UK in 40 years!

Professor Elizabeth Kay, dean at the Peninsula Dental School, says: ‘My sincere congratulations go to our first graduating cohort, and to the many people who have worked so hard to ensure that they achieved so much. Ours is a true partnership between students, faculty, local dentists and the wider South West community. The effectiveness of that partnership is proven by the calibre of our first graduating students. I wish them well in their careers and I am confident that, wherever they practice, their patients will benefit from their excellent clinical and interpersonal skills.’

Graduation is the end of a long journey through a degree with many high and low points. But the achievement of this qualification opens up the door to the next chapter in our lives.

There is no denying that a lot of hard work, sweat and sometimes even a lot of tears is involved with a degree such as dentistry, however as Luc de Clapiers, marquis de Vauvenargues quoted, ‘Of all pleasures the fruit of labour is the sweetest’, and I think I would definitely have to agree!

On a final note, I just want to personally congratulate all the graduates of Peninsula Dental School class of 2011. You are an inspiration to all the years that follow you and I wish you all the success in your career! x

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