Future bright despite tough year as CQU Oral Health takes rankings crown

Published:01 September 2020

Oral Health student Emma-Kate Westaway is excited about career opportunities.

CQUniversity Oral Health students are getting back on track after COVID-19 disruptions, as new rankings show the course leads Australia for teaching quality and student support.

The Good Universities Guide (GUG) 2021 puts CQUniversity at number one in the Dentistry field for overall educational experience, and current Bachelor of Oral Health student Emma-Kate Westaway says the ranking is a welcome boost as she approaches graduation.

The third-year student moved from the Sunshine Coast to Rockhampton to study Oral Health, after working as a dental assistant for nine years.

“Working in the industry already, I always liked the clinical side of things, so the degree means I can take my career to the next level - and to earn more too!” Emma-Kate said.

“Being an assistant for so long, there was a lot I thought I understood, but studying it has made me realise how much there is to know – and after two and a half years, I’m now seeing how much I do know!”

Emma-Kate, 26, has been putting her clinical studies into practice, at CQUniversity’s Health Clinic at Rockhampton North campus.

While COVID-19 restrictions meant Oral Health students were studying remotely, with clinic and external work placements suspended, the determined student says she’s been glad to get back into clinic.

“The Health Clinic is awesome, it’s a fully functioning dental practice that actually serves members of the public, so all the students are really glad to be back,” Emma-Kate said.

“The initial uncertainty around how we would complete required clinic hours was quite stressful for everyone, but all our supervisors have been amazing supporting us through it.”

Emma-Kate has also done work placements with school dental services and is about to head to Toowoomba to finish her final placement.

“I’m really passionate about preventative oral health, so it’s great working with kids and having the knowledge and experience to  help them understand that there’s so much science and technology involved with dentistry now, the dentist shouldn’t ever be scary!”

The Good Universities Guide (GUG) 2021 also awarded CQUniversity’s Oral Health courses five stars for learning resources, student support, teaching quality, and overall educational experience.

Head of Course for Oral health Associate Professor Leonie Short said practical experience was vital to the rating.

“The success of the course in Rockhampton is a testament to the dedicated teaching and support team, purpose-built clinical facilities and network of clinical supervisors in Brisbane, Ipswich, Caloundra, Toowoomba, Southport, Rockhampton and Emerald,” A/Prof Short said.

Emma-Kate said the small, supportive cohort of Oral Health students also boosted confidence as her year-level approaches graduation.

“Being friends with the students who graduated last year, a lot of them had been offered jobs even before they graduated, so seeing their path shows the opportunities that are out there for us, too,” she said.