I knew I wanted to be a dentist since I was 15 years old, and when I turned 21, I decided to practice dentistry in the United States after graduating as a dentist in my home country, India. As I started to research this process, I came across a number of dental student forums and Facebook groups with an abundance of information. Unfortunately, because of the vastness, it was difficult to distinguish between what was false and what wasn’t.
In May of 2013, I graduated from the University of Florida Dental School and accepted a job in Singapore. In order to practice there, I had to complete a stack of paperwork, submit blood samples, wait a month and then complete more paperwork. I didn’t need to take any additional licensing exams and I’ve worked in the country since graduation.
I work 9:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. every day, including weekends. I will work about 2-3 weeks and then I take off 1-2 weeks to travel. In the years since I graduated, I’ve been able to travel to more than 100 countries on 6 continents.
If I see a dental sign while I’m traveling, I usually stop in to check it out. Don’t you wonder what dental clinics look like in different countries?
Read on to see photos from Dr. Pfundheller’s travels…
As fourth year dental students, we completed our clinical outreach requirements at the University of Bergen (UiB) in Norway through an international exchange program. We treated patients in the clinic, made many wonderful friendships and traveled the beautiful country of Norway. The combination of clinical practice, learning and working in an international health care setting led us to one of the most rewarding experiences in dental school. We strongly recommend that students take advantage of any opportunity to participate in dentistry in a novel setting as a way to expand your perspective and potentially practice dentistry abroad. The opportunity to explore various techniques and materials, and to improve patient communication skills, helped us to grow as health practitioners. Most importantly, we became more independent. For us, participating in this program changed our lives and our careers.
I grew up in a small town in India. Participating in various health care camps in under-served neighborhoods helped me realize the importance of access to care and how it can affect people’s health. Serving rural communities for three years in dental school helped me make a difference in so many lives. I would love to do it for the rest of my life.
I have done BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) from India. Which requires 4 years of classroom training and one year of externship. In addition to that, I have practiced dentistry in private setting for a year and that has helped me understand dentistry from both academic as well as professional point of view. After moving to the United States, I wanted to pursue the same path and for that it was very necessary to understand how dentistry is being practiced here. I was lucky enough to get several volunteering and shadowing opportunities and learn about dental practices in the US. I gained invaluable experience and it strengthened my decision to pursue dentistry here. In the process, I also observed some of the differences in dental practices between the two countries.
The dental degree in Nigeria is a bachelor of dental surgery (BDS) degree. It’s a 6-year program that doesn’t require an undergraduate degree. A school year starts in January and ends in December with only one break during Christmas. During the first four years, basic medical science subjects are taught. We attend lectures with our medical school colleagues during our second through fourth years. Anatomy (where we dissect cadavers), biochemistry, physiology pathology, hematology, microbiology, oral biology, pharmacology and epidemiology are some of the classes that we take.
In the second part of the fourth year we have a junior operative technique course, which involves an introduction to prosthetic and conservative dentistry. We have to make a complete denture and prepare Class I and II cavity preps. For a class of 49 pupils there are only five working phantom heads available for practice of cavity preparation and one slow hand piece shared between five students. Read more to see how I faced a day in dental school…