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Being a medical doctor or a dentist?
That's my biggest dilemma in choosing the course to pursue in university. It's a long way, a minimum of 5 years undergraduate study is required. So, I decided to take a 1.5 year of gap year after high school, shadowing dentists and medical doctors in both general hospital and dental hospital back in Penang, Malaysia. Then I realized being a dentist is what I can foresee myself doing in future. Why? It simply because it suits my character, a family guy who needs flexible working hours and I dislike being on call! Work life balance is what I seek for in my future profession. Being a dentist, I have a fixed working hours for about 9 hours a day. No night shifts or on call for 36 hours like what a medical doctor practices.
Why HKU Dentistry?
The application process was a bit tough and stressful. As you know, The University of Hong Kong Faculty of Dentistry is prestigious and recently just ranked No 1 in the world in 2016 and was ranked second in 2015. It's an internationally friendly place. All the courses is conducted solely in English and throughout your stay in Hong Kong , you will eventually pick up Mandarin and Cantonese by making local friends and acclimatizing yourself better in Hong Kong. The professors here are really helpful, knowledgeable and easily approachable. Whenever I have doubts in my studies, clinically or academically, they are always there to guide me. The dentistry course in HKU is Problem Based learning. Limited lectures serve as the guideline on what to read and you yourself have to look through the recommended textbooks, searching for the reliable sources on the internet for more information to prepare yourself better. It's not like the traditional spoon-feeding education system, there's no CORRECT answer for any question. Professors will trigger you to think by throwing more questions and you have to find out the answers by yourself.
The best part of studying dentistry in Hong Kong is there is only ONE dental school in the whole Hong Kong, which is in University of Hong Kong. The demand for dentists is high and the supply is never sufficient. The demand for dentists is high in HK but the supply is way lower as in HK, there's only one dental school, roughly about 70 fresh graduates per year, so it creates more career opportunities. In Malaysia, it's of different scenario. I have lost count of the number of dental schools and colleges that providing dentistry course in Malaysia. In another word, there are too many dentists produced each year hence the competition to secure a job is high.
Meanwhile, I can apply for HK permanent residency after staying in HK for 7 years in a row. The dentistry course is a 6-year programme, I just need to stay for a year and I'm eligible to apply for it. Isn't it a good thing? As an international student, once I graduate I can start practicing in private clinics once I get the license without taking any entry examination because the dentistry course provided in HKU is recognized by the HKDC and HKDA. Dentistry is a professional course, it's simply because we manage and care for patients! We pledge to treat patients equally with respect! It involves demands on our hands and minds, from diagnosing to coming out with a treatment plan. As the dentistry course is a professional course, it mostly focuses on practical and clinical sessions, so it can't afford for a long exchange programme. There's a chance to go for a short exchange in the fifth year and sixth year, roughly two to three weeks. Students are free to apply to any dental school in the world by themselves.
My HKU Life
My hall life was pretty interesting. I stayed in hall during my first year. I took part as one of the front stage actors in the drama club and performed during the anniversary dinner for my hall. It was a precious memory to me, teaming up with local hallmates and performing on stage with my broken Cantonese. Meanwhile, I am also part of the HKU Student Ambassador Scheme for three years. Welcome exchange students and representatives from different universities around the globe, tour them around HK and share my experiences living in HK. In my free time, I paddle for the HKDA dragonboat team and go hiking with my friends and Malaysian mates. It helps to keep me in shape and relieve some tension from studying. I never feel homesick though I'm away from my family because there's a big community of Malaysian in HKU and in HK. From time to time, there are events like Mid Autumn Festival, gathering all the Malaysians and celebrating together! The Malaysian seniors are kind to share their stories and help out whenever I need help! It's like my second home in HK.