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Studying Dentistry in Canada as a mature student: Q&A with Dr. Shilpi Tandon

Dr. Tandon, an Indian dentist who moved to Canada and is enrolled in the International Dentist Advanced Placement Program, talks about the challenges and opportunities for a mature student abroad.
BY Skendha Singh |   17-07-2018

Shilpi Tandon

What is it like returning to studies as a mature student at an international institution? Dr. Shilpi Tandon, currently enrolled in the University of Toronto’s International Dentist Advanced Placement Program, talks about the challenges of transitioning to a new academic environment, the support system. Below are edited excerpts from the conversation. 

  1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

    In 2001, I graduated from Bapuji Dental College and Hospital (Karnataka), and worked continuously until I moved to Canada in 2016. I had a private practice in Gurgaon, worked as a Consultant with Max Healthcare for more than 10 years. Before leaving for Canada, I was the Coordinator of the Dental Department in Max Hospital Gurgaon for around 4 years.

    Moving to Canada was a conscious decision taken for better prospects for my two daughters who are currently aged 5 and 12. I was very sure of pursuing my career in Dentistry in Canada despite knowing that it’s a tough competitive path and will take a long time. 

  2. What route did you take towards qualifying as a dentist in Canada?

    Having started my homework in India itself, I researched the National Dental Examining Board (NDEB) website for all the information and created a profile. I needed to organize documents from my Indian university to be sent directly to Canada for my profile approval. This took close to 6 months and we decided to move accordingly.

    Once here, we made sure we moved close to centers that helped in training for the various exams which are mandatory for entrance to any university in Canada.

    It was a struggle for sure. My husband did part-time jobs to support the family and take care of the kids, while I focused on my classes and exam preparation. Finally, I managed to clear my exam with a good score.

  3. How has University of Toronto’s International Dentist Advanced Placement Program helped you academically?

    After a preparation period of one year, I was selected by the University of Toronto as a student of the International Dentist Advanced Placement Program.

    I have completed the first 6 months of the IDAPP program and will be starting my regular third year after the summer break. The training has been rigorous and has given me an intense learning experience. My class consists of 120 students from various countries, who are aged between 25 to 40. This gives you great exposure. Everyone has different levels and years of experience, and yet we are competing in one classroom.

    This is totally different from the experience I had during my B.D.S. years in India. Technology has changed teaching methodology drastically. We have gone from physical books to e-Books and online courses. 

  4. What did you love about studying at the University of Toronto?

    University of Toronto's teaching program is excellent. The curriculum involves subjects ranging from research and public health to community working and delegated patient care.

    Credit University of Toronto
                                                                  Image courtesy: University of Toronto

    The pre-clinical lab work covers every procedure that we might need to conduct on our patients. This gives each student the confidence and training to be as close to perfect as possible. The faculty members come with years of experience under their belt and have the expertise. They teach well, with a lot of motivation and encouragement at all times. 

    Despite my vast experience in Dentistry, there is so much to learn here. Each day is full of new information and new techniques.

  5. How does it feel to return to university as a mature student?

    It’s tough for the family, especially my kids who find me studying most of the time and must go to day care as my husband gets back to work. But, slowly, they are getting used to it and are proud of my achievements. My elder daughter is so inspired that she has imbibed my method of visual reading and wants to study at the University of Toronto.

    Spending time with family is a rare treat since I started school, but they understand it’s for a better and brighter future. And I have immense support from all of them.

  6. Is there anything else you would like to share with international students?

    For all the international students who want to come to Canada to pursue Dentistry, I will say that it’s a tough path which will take a few years. But, with hard work, perseverance, and dedication one can achieve one’s goals.

    If I can do this at the age of 40 with two children, anyone who decides to do it, can succeed. There are a lot of coaching centers available to help you. You can prepare on your own as well and form study groups with other students. You will find Canada a beautiful and welcoming country.



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