MSc Dental Public Health Class of 2018
Clinical dentist, Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust
Part-time Research Assistant, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCL
My interest in dental public health developed after being involved with data collection for several national dental epidemiology programmes whilst working as a special care dentist. The information collected aids the identification oral health inequalities across various groups within society, but I became intrigued with understanding why these disparities persisted, despite general improvements in oral health.
I chose UCL for the MSc in Dental Public Health as I had heard about the renowned research outputs of department through one of my university lecturers, and I was familiar with the local area surrounding the campus. The course also offered the opportunity to learn and interact with other postgraduate students within the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care.
During term one, I was initially daunted at the thought of studying again after being out of formal education for many years, but I found the lecturers and tutors extremely supportive. I found that UCL provided an extensive support network for students in comparison to my previous university experience. I really enjoyed the entire learning process and soon became adapted to student life again. The tutorials were interactive and thought provoking. The other students on the course helped to bring a different perspective to some of the topics studied, having come from diverse clinical backgrounds and regions of the world.
The depth of the teaching across the modules surpassed my expectations, and I could directly relate the theoretical concepts of the social determinants of health to what I had observed over years of clinical practice. Some of the lectures in term two were provided by external experts, who helped to demonstrate how the principles of dental public health are applied in health service planning, both in local and international contexts.
The dissertation project not only gave me a unique opportunity to explore a topic which interested me personally, but also enabled me to utilise the important research and analytical skills developed during the course. After completing the MSc, I submitted the findings of my dissertation for journal publication.
The MSc in Dental Public Health is an ideal course for anyone who is seeking to develop their understanding of the causes of health inequalities. It also challenges you to think independently and evaluate the evidence used to support clinical interventions and health promotion. I am grateful for the different opportunities that have arisen since completing the MSc. I have been able to combine research with clinical provision, working as a part-time Research Assistant and also developing local research projects within my NHS community dental service. I have recently been awarded an NIHR In-Practice Fellowship, which is a unique opportunity for me to pursue my research interests in global oral health. I plan to complete further academic training at UCL and gain practical research experience from other external organisations, alongside continued clinical practice.