The RCSEd & Dentsply Sirona National Student Dental Skills Competition - What it Takes to be a Winner

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27 Apr 2023

The RCSEd Dentsply Sirona Dental Clinical Skills Competition 2022/23 Grand Final took place last month, where 18 finalists were invited to compete in Edinburgh on Thursday 23 March. 

After an exciting yet intense day of competition, there could only be one winner and Gaeun Oh took 1st place, representing Queen University of London. She won a £1000 cheque kindly provided by our valued sponsor Dentsply Sirona, and a Digital SLR camera designed for intraoral photography, generously provided by Tom Bereznicki. 

Gaeun Oh is motivated to become a dentist known for providing holistic care with compassion and creating positive dental experiences, particularly for children, as she has a special interest in paediatric dentistry. She is also fascinated by the advancements of CAD/CAM technology in digital dentistry, which she hopes to implement in patient care in her future dental career. Outside of dentistry, I Gaeun Oh enjoys travelling with her family, cooking, and documenting her day-to-day experiences as a dental student through mini vlogs.

We caught up with Gaeun Oh after the Grand Final to learn more about her experience of participating in the competition and winning 1st place, her plans for the future, as well as the advice she would give to final year students thinking of entering the competition.

1. How would you describe your experience as the winner of the RCSEd & Dentsply Sirona National Student Dental Skills Competition and how do you feel this will impact your future career?
"Participating in the competition was truly an unforgettable experience. It was an excellent opportunity for me to connect with dental students from across the country and experience the latest technology from Dentsply Sirona. I participated in the competition with great excitement and enthusiasm. What I found particularly valuable was the supportive examiners at each station who guided me through each task. It really felt more like a workshop session than an actual competition, and I learned as much as I competed.

Hearing my name announced as the final winner was an unexpected moment that left me in complete shock. It took a while for me to process it all. But, as I received all the congratulations from everyone, I began to feel an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment. 
Winning this competition is a significant achievement that demonstrates my commitment, perseverance, and enthusiasm for dentistry. I believe this award will open up numerous opportunities for me in the future, and I am excited to see where it will take me."

2. How did you find out about the Competition and what motivated you to enter?
"My tutor emailed all fifth-years, encouraging us to participate in the local heat competition. I must admit, what really caught my attention from the list of prizes was the free pizza offered on the day of the heat. My main motivation for participating was the opportunity to gain extra practice in crown preparation and, of course, to enjoy a few slices of free pizza. I never imagined that I would win both the heat and the national competition. It just shows that anything can happen, even when you least expect it."
3. What did you think of the College when you visited for the Grand Final, was it what you expected?
"I have to say, I was absolutely charmed by the College. My last visit to Edinburgh was a good 15 years ago, so my memories of the city were rather vague. But, when I arrived for the Grand Final, I immediately fell in love with everything - the city, the college, and the Surgeon's Hall museum. The college's rich history, dating back to its establishment in 1505, thoroughly fascinated me. What really made the experience, though, was the warmth and friendliness of everyone involved in organising and running the competition. I found members of the RCSEd to be approachable and welcoming. At the dinner, I had the opportunity to chat with various people and learn more about their dental career paths, which was incredibly inspiring".
4. What advice would you give to upcoming 5th year dental students who are thinking of entering the competition?
"I'd say go for it! Don't hesitate to give it a shot, there is absolutely nothing to lose. Even if you don't think you'll win, the experience of participating is invaluable as you get to practice your skills and learn more about the college. Plus, who knows, you might surprise yourself and discover new potential you never knew you had."

5. What are the next steps for you, now that you have completed your undergraduate degree?
"I am still on the fence about which pathway I would like to take, I am currently drawn to gaining further insight into paediatric dentistry along with conscious sedation. Working with kids has always been a passion of mine, and after attending a sedation clinic this year, I was fascinated by the potential for sedation techniques to make dental care more accessible to people with dental anxiety.
Looking ahead, I'm excited about the possibility of expanding my clinical experience in special care dentistry, where I can use my skills to help individuals who struggle to receive dental care due to illness and disability.
In the long term, after I gain more experience in both practice and hospital settings, one of my many goals is to return to Barts as a clinical tutor to share my knowledge with the next generation of dentists. After all, it was through the mentorship of my own tutors that I developed the skills and passion necessary in dentistry, and I am eager to give back in any way that I can."

To learn more about the RCSEd & Dentsply Sirona National Student Dental Skills Competition and past winners, visit our competition page.

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