National award for top-performing dentistry student Jimmy Fan

For final-year dentistry student Jimmy Fan, an award from the Oral Medicine Academy of Australasia serves as a reminder that focusing on what he enjoys in life will bring rewards.

The Bendigo Campus student has won the highest achieving final year dental student award for excellence in the field of oral medicine.

“Getting nominated for this award serves to remind me to pursue what I enjoy as it is easier to excel at what you like doing,” he says. “It may also help open doors in pursuing a career in oral medicine in the future. 

“Oral medicine has always been a subject that I enjoyed learning. It is an important area of dentistry that general dental practitioners may not treat every day but will get exposure to.”

Jimmy grew up in his home city of Melbourne and completed secondary college at his local Balwyn High School.

“During high school, I really enjoyed studying biology and after achieving one of the highest marks in the state, I knew I wanted a career that involved it,” he says. “I also wanted a hands-on career because I didn’t see myself working in an office. My mum has a background in dentistry, and she suggested I pursue it.

“When I got accepted into La Trobe Dentistry, that was the first time I had to move away from Melbourne. Going through the course, I knew I was in the right profession and have no regrets about pursuing it.” 

Jimmy’s interest in a hands-on career has served him well throughout the course.

“Dentistry isn’t an easy course because not only is your theory assessed but also your hand skills,” he says. “There is a vast amount of content to learn and remember. I was never good at remembering things, I preferred to learn and apply.

“University was difficult initially for me as I had get used to rote learning rather than conceptual learning. Aside from the theory, clinic has always been a highlight. The practical part of the course I found enjoyable and a milestone was definitely seeing patients for the first time in third year.  

“Besides oral medicine, I enjoy performing extractions during clinic. I like the surgical side of things.”

During his studies, Jimmy also worked part time as a dental assistant. “This gave me exposure to what dentistry is like out of university,” he says. “I locumed for many different dentists, which allowed me to see just how different everyone practices. I also participated in an elective placement program with Monash Health during the summer holidays of fourth year. This gave me exposure to many extractions and endodontic procedures.” 

Jimmy is excited to finish his degree this year and start work in his profession, which he describes as vast. “And I’ve only just set foot into it,” he says. “My degree is just a license to learn. It’s too early to say where I intend to end up. I’m approaching the future with an open mind.

“When I start working, I hope to reflect on the type of dentist I wish to be and my niche. The possibility of undertaking further studies in oral medicine is one pathway that I may take.”

Jimmy’s award will give him a place at the annual scientific meeting of the Oral Medicine Academy of Australasia, which should serve as a ticket for future opportunities.

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