By Dr Hira M. Khan
Dr Sameer Qureshi graduated from Fatimah Jinnah Dental College (FJDC), Karachi, in 2001. Following his graduation, Dr Sameer went on to pursue his Masters from the University of Manchester. After returning from England, Dr Sameer returned to his alma mater, FJDC, as an educator. He has been associated with the institute ever since. Dr Sameer also runs his own private practice in DHA, Karachi. He also teaches various courses in Prosthodontics and Restorative Dentistry to sustain his passion for teaching.
DN: Which higher education option would you recommend to young graduates after BDS: Masters from abroad, FCPS, or MDS?
SQ: No education is useless because you are always learning something new. FCPS, however, being a fellowship program, has a lot of weightage. It is a good option if you plan to stay in Pakistan. MDS is rising to prominence with each passing day; however, it is going to take some time to prove itself. Regardless, it is a good degree for both clinical and non-clinical fields.
As far as Masters from abroad is concerned, if you have the opportunity and means of going abroad, I would always suggest that you should. That way, the horizon opens up, and you get many opportunities to learn about new aspects of the field. It is good to go abroad and achieve something besides doing your basic degree from Pakistan.
DN: Benefits and drawbacks of MSc from abroad and FCPS from Pakistan on a local and global scale?
SQ: Both are good education platforms, and if you can gather both that would be a huge plus. Having international exposure is always important for any human being. I always push my students to go abroad, if they can, to get some basic understanding of what is happening outside Pakistan.
Both options come with their own set of perks. No education option comes with an inherent disadvantage; it is up to the acquirer how they use the acquired knowledge. If there is bad luck or lack of hard work, things might not work out then, but education itself does not carry any disadvantage. Anything that you have learnt is going to prove beneficial if applied properly.
Regarding the fact that you plan on staying in the country and practicing or/and teaching dentistry, I would say FCPS is the goal at the moment. MDS is also an excellent major degree that you could pursue. Then again, if you want to learn good clinical dentistry, I would say that you acquire basics from here and then go abroad to learn skills from the masters who have written the books.
DN: What was the time of completion of your degree?
SQ: I did my Masters in Fixed and Removable Prosthodontics from the University of Manchester. It was a one-year degree. I got an excellent opportunity to learn from incredible teachers. Alhamdullilah, life has been good to me in prosthodontics so far.
DN: What is the expected time of completion of your suggested degree?
SQ: I would say that any four-year degree would do the job. Whether it is Masters or FCPS, you should go for a four-year clinical program if you want to become a clinician. However, if non-clinical subjects have good opportunities, then any program with a three to four-year duration would do well for your learning and contribute to the credibility of your degree.
DN: What would you recommend out of the two: join the workforce or pursue higher education after BDS?
SQ: I would suggest that one should start studying during their house job if there is a plan to do post-graduation immediately after. So you can complete your education in one go because once you start working it creates a lag between you and further education. Therefore, it is better to finish with post-graduation to maintain the flow of studying. It is easier to do it when you have peers along with you, which creates a ‘college environment’ that facilitates better learning.
So I would say, go with the flow. Complete your education, whether it is FCPS or MDS.
Along with education, you must also find time for clinical attachments/observerships. It would prove to be very helpful in polishing your clinical knowledge. If you get a good job opportunity, and you are able to divide your time between your two commitments effectively, then that is great too. In any case, it is advisable to pursue higher education, which is easier to manage if you are not working alongside.
DN: For those joining the workforce after BDS, which one is the better choice: private practice or getting a job at an institute or a clinic?
SQ: Opening a clinic is a very good idea but it is essential to have some prior experience, because managing a clinic is a completely different ballgame. It is about marketing, dealing with all kinds of people, etc. It is not only about seating your patient and starting to drill their teeth. You have to manage the clinic, manage your staff, and so you have to learn those basics. I opened my own clinic 5-6 years after my graduation. I got my basic training from my seniors, for which I took on observership with great dentists. If presented with opportunities, do take up clinical attachments and observerships. It helps a lot in setting up a private practice.
DN: What are your recommended destinations and institutes for those wanting to pursue a foreign degree?
SQ: There are a lot of options to choose from. I would suggest researching thoroughly regarding the various programmes being offered, the standing of the university, and their faculty while going through the process of applying to foreign universities. England has a lot of good universities; I would name the University of Manchester because I had a great experience there. The city was beautiful as well. To name a few other options, there is Kings College, Eastman, Edinburgh, and Sheffield.
There are three different countries for you to deal with: UK, USA, and Australia. England is the easiest to get in. The US and Australia would be a difficult path to pursue.
DN: Reflect on your experience of learning abroad.
SQ: Personally, I feel that while studying there, I was able to groom myself. It was a great experience, learning from some of the most prominent names in dentistry. I found it to be a morale-boosting experience. The learning environment there is fantastic. We as a nation are hardworking people when presented with a good opportunity in a foreign country; we are capable of achieving a lot.
- Why dentistry and not medicine?
SQ: It was my father’s wish. I wanted to be a pilot like him.
- Why Masters and not FCPS?
SQ: I wanted to go abroad.
- MSc, MDS, or Fellowship?
SQ: Whichever opportunity you get, take it, grab it, learn from it, and prove yourself.
- Priority after graduation (BDS)?
SQ: Postgraduation. If not, then private practice and courses. Continuing education is essential.
- Is prevention still better than cure?
SQ: Always was and always will be, in every aspect.
- How importance is sterilization?
SQ: It is as essential for the doctor as it is for the patient.
- Can enamel structure really be restored with a toothpaste?
SQ: We have great modern fillings for that purpose.
- Patient history, important or just a formality?
SQ: Extremely important. Cannot move forward without it