Golden sands, a subtropical climate, and of course, those sunny surfs. Situated in Queensland just south of Brisbane, Gold Coast has come a long way since its humble beginnings surrounding the legendary seaside resort, Surfer’s Paradise. The setting is hard to beat: spectacular beaches that soak up 300-days of sunlight a year lie against a backdrop of gleaming skyscrapers. Take a short trip out of the city and you will reach what is known locally as the “green behind the gold”, lush subtropical rain forests encompassing three national parks, numerous mountains, and spectacular waterfalls.
As one of Australia’s fastest growing cities, Gold Coast has grown to become a buzzing metropolis of over 600,000. At the forefront of the city’s rise is Griffith University, one of Australia’s leading higher education providers, ranked in the top three percent of universities worldwide.
Griffith University’s School of Dentistry and Oral Health is at the centre of the institution’s success. Head of the School Professor Robert Love sets out his progressive vision “to enhance its position nationally and internationally as a world-class, research-based school, offering education of the highest quality in the oral health professions and to play a leading national and international role with particular relevance to the community and economy of Australia and the wider Asia-Pacific region.”
As Australasia’s first new dental school in 25-years, the facilities at Griffith are as up-to-date as they come. During the building of the AUS$150 million Griffith Health Centre, teachers at the School were able to influence planning and design to ensure it was specifically-tailored to meet the teaching needs of the students.
Along with state-of-the-art laboratories, the facility includes a student clinic where they can put what they’ve learnt to the test. Functioning like a real-world clinic, patients can choose to be treated by students or professional dentists, thus creating a truly exceptional space where teaching and research can flourish.
The professional clinic is staffed by the School’s expert academics, with each specialist taking one day a week off from teaching to treat patients and provide specialist care at the clinic. This then feeds into their teaching during the week and adds another dimension to the students’ understanding of the subject.
Beyond the university’s walls, students benefit from excellent local connections with the Menzies Health Institute and Gold Coast University Hospital, as well as international collaborations with institutions abroad. All of this allows students to develop a deeper understanding of the field, in some cases even travelling abroad to gain experience and expertise from another institution.
Students of Dentistry and Oral Health receive a dynamic learning experience, not only benefitting from the state-of-the-art labs but also from studying alongside registered dentists in real-life settings, ranging from major city hospitals to small rural clinics.
And far beyond Gold Coast, Griffith Dentistry graduates are making an impact. One such graduate, Dr Michael Baker, made national headlines in 2015 when he and a group of University volunteers created and executed a programme to fill a vital gap in oral health services at a south-east Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community. Since then, Dr Baker’s Hope4Health mobile dental clinic has been a huge success, now giving final year students the opportunity to travel to isolated communities that face crippling waits and travel distance to receive basic dental care.
Dr Alyssa Karam graduated from the School in 2016, and remains incredibly thankful for her experience at Griffith.
“The facilities at Griffith University School of Dentistry and Oral health were excellent. I was lucky enough to be learning dentistry in a brand new dental clinic with top of the line equipment and materials,” she says. “
“The academic staff [were] truly outstanding. Our professors and doctors were more than qualified to be teaching us different aspects of dentistry. They were always very helpful and supportive. They encouraged us to go above and beyond, and to provide the best treatment possible to our patients.”
Griffith University offers Bachelors in Dental Health Science, Dental Prosthetics and Dental Technology and welcomes students from across the world. International students studying at Griffith join an alumni network of 200,000 that represents 130 nationalities. Dr Karam is keen to highlight the unique Gold Coast lifestyle: “The Gold Coast is a great place to live. The atmosphere is relaxed and the people living there are very kind and welcoming. The population is very multicultural so you will meet individuals from all parts of the world.”
We’ll leave the last word to Dr Karam, who described her transition from graduate to professional perfectly, saying she felt “very competent in my field of work. Transitioning back to practicing dentistry in Canada has been very smooth. I am very glad I chose to attend this University, and am very thankful to have made lifelong connections and friendships in Australia, my second home.”
So there you have it. Exceptional teaching, state-of-the-art facilities, ground-breaking research, and the sun-soaked trappings of Australian life.