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A future to sink his teeth into

Unsure what he should do after school, Reuben Carroll chose what felt right for him and combined hands-on learning with uni thinking.

After graduating from high school, Reuben was unsure about which path to take with his career. He knew he wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps and study a degree in a health-related industry, but worried university wouldn’t suit his practical learning style.

“I found I wasn’t very academic at school. I knew the right course for me would give me the option of having hands-on learning and a university degree,” he said.

Reuben weighed his options, comparing the many ways he could choose to study, when he decided on TAFE Queensland’s Bachelor of Dental Prosthetics (HED004).

“It’s an industry-leading course that’s specialised within the dentistry industry, and offers innovative facilities, equipment and lecturers.”

“Not only that, studying at the South Bank campus is easy and accessible and, with all the restaurants and cafes around, has so many options for us students to have study catch ups or hang out after a day in class.”

For Reuben, TAFE Queensland’s degree learning environment has given him flexibility and freedom to learn in his own way.

“I knew a university-level course would involve structure but being able to learn something specific to what I’m interested in, while having the freedom to study in my own time, meant I really enjoyed my learning experience,” Reuben started.

“In the morning we might have had an anatomy class learning about the head and neck, and then in the afternoon we’d be constructing denture with stone or wax.”

“Over the last three years, I've loved the opportunity to learn new, hands-on techniques that have started with digital learning. I’ve learnt how to scan intraorally and been given the skills to create a denture from scratch, pouring out different models, bending wires and general patient care,” he grinned.

“I enjoyed learning from industry-leading lecturers, learning different techniques and of course, having a smaller class group, getting to know your fellow classmates while you learn together.”

“They helped us to put the theory we’d learnt into practice by introducing to us to manikins. We got the opportunity to train and take impressions of the manikin's mouth. We got to do a lot of hands-on work with wax and multiple materials in the dental lab.”

For Reuben, smaller class groups also meant he had more of an opportunity to get one-on-one assistance from his lecturers — lecturers that are industry connected and experts in their field.

“Our lecturers also helped us to find mentorships out of the dental prosthetics study field with past students from the course. We got to see how the workflow was for an actual professional in the industry and how they interacted with their patients.”

“I loved being able to ask my mentor for advice and help with particularly difficult cases during my practical placement. TAFE Queensland really provided us with all the opportunities to maximise our learning potential,” he explained.

One of Reuben’s lecturers even helped him secure a job with one of Australia’s top five Dental Prosthetists at Pearl Denture Studio, giving him the perfect jumping off point for a successful career in the industry.

“Studying at TAFE has helped me to not only network with other industry leading prosthetists, but also to grow my knowledge in the field of dental prosthetics, as well as being able to learn how to treat patients and manage them,” he said.

“Now that I've graduated from TAFE Queensland, I am a fully qualified dental prosthetist. I'm very excited to start my new role with Pearl Denture Studio, as they have some of the leading technologies and experts in the industry. I’m very keen to learn everything I can.”

Happily for Reuben, his chosen career path has plenty of room for growth.

“My goal is to eventually scope out into further parts of the prosthetic industry. I’d like to investigate further courses like the Biocompatible Prosthetic System course. I want to upskill.”

Reflecting on his uncertainty as a new school leaver, Reuben doesn’t regret exploring his options.

“I don’t think you need to make big decisions, just choose something right for right now.”

“I knew this course was right for me the first time I created a denture for my first patient. I love that I can give my patients something to smile about, a boost of confidence. Teeth really do make a difference to the way we see ourselves and how we feel.”