For Craig Jack, the learning never stops… even after graduating from dental school. Craig chose The University of Manchester to study Dentistry due to a good open day and interview experience, along with falling in love with the vibrant city. It’s fair to say it certainly lived up to his expectations! Find out why below.
From fairly early on in my high school career I knew I wanted to do something within the sciences or medical field that involved using my hands. My decision got whittled down further to medicine vs dentistry, and after speaking to various people the more practical appeal of dentistry won through. There was more than likely some subconscious push in that direction as my dad has been working within the dental hospital in Manchester for the past 20 years at that point, although he never actively drove me in that direction. His contacts for helping to arrange work experience placements certainly didn’t go amiss though!
I started dental school what seems like a lifetime ago in 1999. At this time PBL (problem based learning) was a new concept and only three dental schools in the country were offering it as the primary teaching method, Manchester being one of them.
I knew from college that I didn’t particularly take to didactic, lecture style teaching and was therefore keen to keep this to a minimum if possible in my choice of undergraduate course. Having visited (and received offers from) the other schools offering PBL I decided on Manchester due to the feel I got for the university when I was looking around on open days and at my interview.
I had also been lucky enough to complete work experience within the hospital and the students who I spent time with all seemed so enthusiastic about the course and it seemed like the sensible choice. The vibrancy of the city was also of huge appeal as was the diverse range of extracurricular activities that were on offer.
Time on the course
My five years at Manchester were some of the most enjoyable of my life. Yes, it was hard work and stressful at times but that was far outweighed by the fun that was had. I feel Manchester gave me a great start in my dentistry career and provided my with the initial skills required to push on and further develop myself.
I am a firm believer that you get out what you put in. Yes, you can plod along ticking the boxes and come out with a degree at the end of it, but if you go the extra mile, stick your head above the parapet (for the right reasons) and show willingness to learn and better yourself, you will stand out from the masses and potentially set yourself up for a brighter start to your career.
More importantly, my time at university immersed me into cultures that I knew little about and I can safely say that I made some life long friends during my time at uni, both dentists and muggles (non-dental folk).
Time since graduating
Since I graduated in 2004 I have worked in various positions but my passion about providing the best possible treatment for my patients has meant I have invested a great deal of time in continued education.
Following my vocational training year (now called Dental Foundation Training) I spent six months working in the dental hospital and six months working in a Maxillofacial (facial surgery) unit. I feel this time was invaluable in my career progression but it also confirmed to me that I didn’t want a hospital-based career. From there I went back into general dental practice, which is still where I work primarily.
I have also spent time teaching undergraduate students at Manchester and, following completion of a master’s degree, spent the last seven years teaching postgraduate dentistry. I recently left the University as I was offered the opportunity to work as an implant dentist in a referral practice, a role which I have been working towards for years. I am also nearing the completion of a Diploma in Implant dentistry. As mentioned above, the learning never stops!
Would I do it all again?
I think the short answer is yes. Dentistry is definitely different now compared to when I started both for the positive and the negative, but show me a profession that isn’t. Technological and material advancements mean we can provide more diverse and predictable treatments for our patients and if you embrace the constant need to evolve as a clinician and push yourself then the positive aspects of the profession by far outweigh the downsides.