With increasing number of private dental colleges in India, the Indian student has plethora of choices to make for higher education, if they have inclination towards dentistry. The single entrance exam as a gateway for admission into BDS courses throughout India, is a boon to the student, so are the online entrance exams.
While some of the government institutions have limited infrastructural facilities, most of the private sector is well equipped but are struggling for clinical material. For a student it is crucial to have both, as they have to keep up with technological advances and clinical experience of working on as many patients as possible. So we, in this industry have to find our balance in this regard, by providing the latest equipment and materials to train our students as well as lots of patients.
The five year course in dentistry is physically and mentally exhaustive, so the students and parents should prepare themselves for it. It is a drastic change from their higher secondary studies schedules and most of the students face problems with language, communication and physical and mental strength and determination.
As has happened to all the professional sectors, a bachelor's degree is not enough in dentistry today. Education is becoming very expensive, so getting a post graduate degree can also be quite expensive. But unlike 10-15 years back, today's dentists may not want to limit themselves to a master's degree in one subject. There are plenty of diploma courses available after BDS to have overall clinical experience. Today's students have multiple options for a career in dentistry, after their BDS or MDS degree.
Clinical research in India is growing like never before, and students in this generation have more choices in going for research in the field of dentistry, apart from becoming a dental practitioner or go for academics in the form of a teaching job.
As far as the practice goes, cities have become saturated, but the outskirts have a lot of potential, as a dentist to population ratio is still very bad in rural places. In the urban scenario, people are aware about dental diseases, and are willing to get the latest treatment available. Dental insurance has also entered the market, so we can expect better days for dentists as well as patients.
Polyclinic after a master's degree is emerging as a practical alternative, where multiple specialists come together and open a polyclinic. For fresh post graduates,who have huge educational loans and find it difficult to invest alone, it is a very good option. Patients also can have multiple dental specialists' available under one roof.
The corporate hospitals with their chain of franchises have also entered dental market with a specialty dental clinic set-up, hiring fresh graduates and post graduates. Sometimes people opt to go to a well-known hospital dental set up, because of its name, rather than going to an unfamiliar dentist next door.
It is surprising to find many post graduate students of dentistry, pursuing PhD. This shows a paradigm shift of attitude of dentists towards their profession. Dentists of today are interested in research and academics.
Dental tourism is also very fast developing industry in dental specialty, but for that, we as dental fraternity, need to focus on ethics. There are a lot of ethical issues we need to address, whether it is for students, teachers or practitioners, quality and standard should be given utmost importance.
Foreign Universities may come to India in near future, which will open up many opportunities for our students and teachers, as a lot of collaboration between the institutions can be worked out.
In my concluding remarks, I think today's dentistry needs to think about, being creative and imaginative, to think out of the box to survive in this profession, along with clinical efficiency, confidence and up to date knowledge about recent developments in dentistry.
Dr. Vaibhavi Joshipura
She is currently the Principal at Sri Rajiv Gandhi College of Dental Science and Research. After obtaining her Master in Dental Surgery, she began her teaching career and has completed 17 years so far. She is also the Executive Editor of the Karnataka State Dental Council Journal.