1. Sibling rivalry is a good thing
My passion to become a dentist began with a
play fight with my older sister. As all siblings do,
one day after school we were fighting over the
television remote. One thing led to another and I
may have ‘accidentally’ thrown the remote control
at her. I frantically apologised, but the damage had
been done. In her hand was the fractured portion
of her upper right central incisor!
Our family dentist, Dr Dit Panchal,
completely restored my sister’s tooth and I was
in awe. Some years later, I undertook work
experience at the Leamington Road Dental
Practice in Coventry and shadowed dentists
Kevin Gill and Rob Cope. I enjoyed my time
there so much I became part of the furniture.
It was inspiring to watch how they connected
with their patients and their passion for dentistry
was reflected in their knowledge and attention
2. Patients are people
When treating patients, don’t see them as just
having a problem that needs to be fixed, but
instead as an individual, with whom you can
build a rapport. The success of a treatment plan
is not based solely on clinical outcomes, but on
having a patient on board every step of the way.
Top tips for success
Rajveer Athwal was named Dental Student of the Year at Dental Protection and Schülke’s Premier
Symposium in November. Here, he shares seven things every young dentist should know
There has to be congruence between what the
patient agrees is a success and what the clinician
believes is a success.
3. Three ‘must-dos’
1. Read the BDJ and Dental Update – they are
great aids to exam revision and keep you
abreast of the latest developments, and are
invaluable once qualified, too
2. Approach tutors/consultants and ask to shadow
them. They are fountains of clinical knowledge
and experience right there on your doorstep.
Most consultants will be flattered you’ve shown
an interest and are happy to help
3. Get involved in a research project or audit.
Think about an area of dentistry you have
found particularly interesting and then
approach staff. This is a brilliant way to
explore your interests and you’ll become an
expert in the field you’re researching. It will
look amazing on your CV, there are prizes for
which you can apply and, ultimately, it will
make you a well-rounded clinician.
4. Make time to talk
You can change your life being a mentor – and
a mentee. If there is someone who inspires you,
then ask for their input. Having a mentor will
challenge you to think objectively, improve your
insight, and give you the confidence to make
mistakes without fear of being judged. Equally,
being a mentor can be a great gift to someone.
5. Family matters
Family is very important to me – as is their
unwavering support. They are your closest link to
your past and will always be there in your future.
Training to be a dentist certainly is a marathon
and, with my sister completing her PhD last
year, her mental fortitude and tenacity has set a
benchmark for me.
6. Six secrets to success
1. Listen to patients. They will provide you will
all the information you need when you take a
thorough history, which will help you create
the most appropriate treatment plan
2. Find out what you’re good at – and pursue it.
Find out what you bad at – and work on it
3. Find a mentor and become a mentor
4. Manage your time well. Effective time
management will allow you to achieve what
5. Surround yourself with people who share the
same desire to succeed – and spend time with
those who encourage you to be a better person
6. Enjoy where you are now! Dental school will
soon fly by, so make the most out of every day.
Down time is very important to me as it helps
keeps me fresh and motivated. I’m a bit of a gym
addict and I find lifting heavy weights to be a
Dental Protection and schülke, the European
leader in cross-infection, both have extensive
experience in supporting dentists and the annual
Premier Symposium conference aims to alert
delegates to the key risks in dentistry and to
share best practice, in a bid to promote safety.
Young Dentist Conference 2016
Friday 8 April
Royal College of Physicians, London
5.5 hours CPD
Tickets priced at: £50 for foundation dentists,
£130 for members and £190 for non members.
For further event information and details on
how to book visit www.dentalprotection.org/
is a final-year student
studying at the
University of Liverpool.
He scooped the title
of Dental Student
of the Year, plus
the prize of £1,500,
for demonstrating a
‘globally and culturally
aware’ approach to
dentistry. His entry included information on:
• His role as a mentor and residential advisor,
offering support to students throughout
their years of study
• An oral cancer research project for which
he was awarded a prize by the Pathological
• Organising oral hygiene camps in
orphanages across Malawi
• A role as a Governor for the Coventry and
Warwickshire NHS Partnership Trust.
Rajveer is now undertaking a cleft palate
project at the Liverpool Alder Hey Hospital
with an orthodontic consultant.