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Dr Humza Ahmed is an Australian endodontist working in private practice in Sydney. He obtained his dental degree in Queensland and worked as a dentist in Sydney for three years before studying a DClinDent in Endodontics at the University of Otago.

Why did you decide to undertake postgraduate DClinDent studies?

In the early stages of my undergraduate dental training, I developed a keen interest in endodontics. Endodontics is the field of dentistry that deals with disease of the pulp (nerve) space within teeth. Practicing endodontics requires an intimate knowledge of the teeth and surrounding structures as well as technical ability. Working as a dental practitioner fostered my interest in endodontics and I ultimately decided to undertake further specialist training. The course I undertook was a DClinDent (endodontics) at the University of Otago.

What was it that interested you? What attracted you?

I decided to undertake a postgraduate DClinDent (endodontics) because I wanted to focus my dental practice to the field of endodontics exclusively. This would enable me/give me the ability to manage complex dental scenarios that required endodontic intervention. Undertaking a DClinDent (endodontics) qualified me to become a registered specialist endodontist in New Zealand and Australia and ultimately enabled me to practice as a specialist endodontist.

Were there specific reasons that you decided to do your postgraduate DClinDent studies at the Otago Faculty of Dentistry?

The Otago University has always had a strong academic team (led by Professor Chandler). The quality of research in the field of endodontics but also in the dental faculty generally, as well as the revered academic staff, made postgraduate education at the University of Otago very appealing. The university offers a Doctoral Scholarship to all applicants of the DClinDent program. The university is selective about offering the scholarship, however, being the recipient of such a generous scholarship positively impacted my financial life as a DClinDent student.

The unique geographic location of the university was also very appealing to me. The university is located in the heart of Dunedin in the southern portion of New Zealand and is a picturesque region with exquisite landscapes and scenery. It snows in the winter and the days are superbly long during the summer months making it a beautiful place to live and study.

What has your postgraduate 'journey' been like so far? How was it for you personally? What was good, what was challenging, what do you feel proud about?

Undertaking a DClinDent in endodontics is a significant commitment as it consumes 3 years of your life. As a postgraduate student, I became immersed in endodontics. I learned about endodontics during the day at university and read widely about endodontics throughout the evenings. For me, it was a challenging but pleasant experience. I enjoyed the minutia of what I was learning and it never felt like a chore. I was also able to mingle with other DClinDent students from other fields both socially and professionally as we undertook interdisciplinary management of patients.

Has postgraduate study influenced your work, career, personal life?

Postgraduate study has greatly influenced my work, career and personal life. In relation to my work, before postgraduate study I was practising as a general dentist. After postgraduate study, I was able to exclusively practice in the field of endodontics which is where my passion lies. I'm passionate about endodontics and often have the opportunity to speak about endodontics to other dentists.

Studying a postgraduate DClinDent was also fun when it came to my personal life. I was able to move to a new city and experienced different things. I met a lot of other postgraduate students in a similar stage of life who were dealing with the same student struggles I was experiencing. It was nice to be able to share the experience with others.

Has undertaking postgraduate DClinDent studies had an effect on your clinical practice/service direction and/or delivery? In what way/s. Please explain.

Undertaking a DClinDent in endodontics has allowed me to have a much more in-depth understanding of endodontics. This has greatly influenced the way I practice dentistry as it has allowed me to limit my practice of dentistry to endodontics. As I learned to use new materials and technology, I was able to implement their use into my/the clinical practice of endodontics. This was only possible through postgraduate education.

Has undertaking postgraduate studies had an effect on how you view evidence for practice?

Absolutely. An integral part of undertaking a DClinDent is becoming familiar with the body of research and evidence in the field. Evidence forms the foundations of dentistry. Evidence influenced the way I learned and currently practice endodontics. As a student, if I suggested a technique for managing an endodontic scenario, my professor would always ask, “what is your evidence?”

A component of the DClinDent programme involves undertaking your own research and producing your own evidence. This process also helped to improve my understanding of evidence.

Would you recommend postgraduate DClinDent studies to colleagues, friends, or peers? Why?

Undertaking a postgraduate DClinDent is a significant commitment that will change the way you practice dentistry. I would recommend it to anyone that is passionate and dedicated about the field of dentistry you are interested in.

What advice would you give to others about undertaking postgraduate studies in general and/or a paper in particular?

Postgraduate study can be a pleasant experience that can positively influence your future both personally and professionally. My advice would be to get involved as much as possible and take as much away from the experience as you can.

How did you find interacting with the other students on the paper/programme?

Being able to interact with other students undertaking the DClinDent program was enjoyable. Having similar deadlines and tasks to complete meant we were usually facing the same challenges and going through them together which was nice. You also meet and make friends with other students not involved in dentistry. I made numerous close friends during my time as a student. Many of us went on to live in different cities around the world and we still remain friends.

Humza Ahmed
Dr Huzma Ahmed.

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