Dr Urooj Mumtaz is one of Pakistan’s brightest upcoming dental stars. She is a graduate of the Fatima Jinnah Dental College, and went on to do her MMESCI in Restorative Dentistry – University of Sheffield’ UK.
Q. What made you do a masters’ from the UK?
I think graduation should never be the end of one’s education as one should always look to expand their horizon. I wanted to pursue further education in the field of Dentistry and during my years in dental school I developed a keen interest in the field of Restorative and Aesthetic Dentistry. After BDS I wanted to learn and explore in the specialty of Restorative Dentistry. When I started to look up options or post graduate studies I found UK to have a wider range of degrees being offered and more importantly clinical ones. I eventually opted for the MMEDSCI in Restorative Dentistry Clinical Degree being offered by the University of Sheffield in UK.
Q. What difference did you see in the teaching system of Pakistan and the UK?
There are major differences in the teaching systems of Pakistan compared to those of UK. Having said that I believe I have a strong base thanks to my teachers in dental school and most importantly my parents both of whom are well renowned Dentist in Pakistan. We do have some great teachers but systems and resources are limited.
The biggest difference is the professional approach they have. A protocol exists for everybody and is followed to the T, rules and regulation are set in place for a reason and no one looks down upon anybody because of the superior financial status or credential edge they might have. These things make a huge difference in maintaining a healthy and professional learning and working environment, also making it easier to focus on the task at hand.
You will be amazed by the humble and down to earth attitude and demeanor of the teachers and professors, it’s not until you go through their credentials and papers that you realize where they stand in the dental fraternity. These teachers want to teach; now it depends on your desire to learn or otherwise.
The style and methods of teaching are also very different. They teach on an “evidence based dentistry” methodology, so you learn things with the proper facts and figures and years of research base to support a theory and not just because some professor said so.
Even the equipment and instruments are state of the art, which makes you realize that the sky is the limit and nothing is out of your reach. With the correct methods and principles you can achieve anything.
Q. What were your inherent fears when applying for the program?
Before something starts you will have many apprehensions and questions like, will I be able to fit in, how will they like my work, what I would do away from home and family etc. But again all these are apprehensions, take that first step and everything will start falling into place.
All universities have an orientation week which I strongly suggest that you attend. During this week you get familiarized with your living space, your university and department, and most importantly your fellow colleagues and professors. All this makes it easy for you to fit in and get accustomed to this new environment.
My personal experience at The University of Sheffield was a brilliant one, I made some amazing friends and met wonderful people and I would love to return back for further studies.
Q. Why do you think is it important for professionals from Pakistan to get foreign education?
The quality of post graduate education is the basic reason why I urge people to study abroad. The professional environment, working ethics, methods of teaching and much more. You learn and develop so much that it is all worth it.
Most importantly we need to remember who we are and where we come from, as when we are in another country most importantly we are recognized as Pakistani’s, and it is our utmost duty to be good ambassadors of the country and make our country proud.
Q. What would be the best time for a student to plan a Masters’ Program and how should they plan the finances?
A student must self evaluate him/her self during their dental school years. As you need to carefully asses the specialty you want to pursue.
Post graduate education is expensive and specially medical and dental education. So you need to be sure of what you want to do as at the end of the Masters degree you will see that the time and money spent is worth it. Your last year of dental school is the best time for you to start making decision and looking up various post graduate program that are of your interest and plan finances accordingly.
Q. What would your advice be to the youngsters who wish to be the next crown master?
My father always said, ‘To act big, you need to think big’; and I live my life according to that saying.
Dentistry is a growing field and is advancing at a rapid pace, if you don’t stay abreast with the latest innovations in the field you will be left behind. In your mind you may think you are a great dentist who knows it all, but in reality that bubble you are living in will pop one day and when you hit the ground you will realize where the world is going. Hence you need to set yourself goals to match the international standard.
Follow your dream and be sincere to yourself and your profession. By setting the bar high you will see yourself achieving and prospering as a person and as a clinician.
Having said all this it just goes to show the importance of post graduate education. I urge all young dentists to pursue further education in the field of interest with utmost sincerity and enthusiasm.