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Moulding his teaching career

For Dr Srini Varanasi, teaching has brought his passions together: bringing smiles back and equipping the next generation of dental prosthetists for the future.

After completing his masters degree and PhD, Dr Srinivas Varanasi was looking for his next career challenge. He found his sweet spot lecturing in TAFE Queensland’s Bachelor of Dental Prosthetics (HED004).

“I’ve found a passion for seeing students transition from amateur to expert. I just love it,” said Dr Varanasi.

“A lot of students don’t realise how diverse and interesting a career in dentistry can be. There are people with different skills and different knowledge in the industry all working to get the best outcome for patients.”

“A Bachelor of Dental Prosthetics is about honing the skill of denture making and implantation. It’s quite detailed and intricate and that can be really satisfying, not only for the patient, but for the person doing the work,” he explained.

On top of that, Srini beams when he speaks about the opportunities he's had to use his qualifications to innovate and pioneer course content.

“This course is at the cutting edge. I honestly think it’s going to be one of the most famous courses for dental prosthetics across Australia and the world in the next five to 10 years. We’re seeing students who are and want to come from around the world because of how progressive the course is and how innovative the technologies are that we’re using.”

TAFE Queensland’s dental lab at the South Bank campus is state of the art and fully equipped with the latest technology, something Srini is proud to have the opportunity to work with.

“We have an extraoral scanner, 3D milling of dentures and crowns. We also have 3D printers, as well as intraoral scanners, which can instruct taking impressions. We can scan the entire mouth. It’s very impressive,” he said.

“Along with the physical technology, we are working with digital technologies that are being integrated into the course that will prepare students for their futures in the industry.”

As the industry changes, Srini recognises it’s important to evolve with it.

“The industry is going more toward digital than conventional techniques. And there's a lot of change since COVID came in as well. Standard policy and procedures have changed, but it's more so about applications. I would say the conventional and digital integration together seems to be a better outcome than just a normal way of doing it.”

“As these needs arise, TAFE Queensland has been very supportive of all the changes that we bring in. Knowing management understands the complexities behind the student’s clinical placements, the theory and laboratory techniques, helps us do our jobs well. But ultimately, it also helps with positive learning outcomes,” he explained.

It’s the kind of practical, hands-on learning, Srini says, that students just don’t get at university.

“We’ve had students who have transitioned from different courses or institutions to our program and for many, the reason was they wanted to learn more. When they joined the course, they were very satisfied because we have personal feedback sessions and more time spent with the students one on one, honing their skills.”

For Srini, choosing the path of working in the dental prosthetics industry is all about outcomes — for the patient and the student.

“At the core of it, dental prosthetics is so much about bringing patients smiles back, but as prosthetists, we’ve also got a very complex area within the mouth to work with. I love seeing students feel proud of the work they do."

“Our patients are very encouraging and supportive of the students learning, but they’re also very satisfied with the quality of the dentures they make. We’ve received thank you letters and greetings to the students saying the work they’ve done was professionally well done.”

“As their teacher, you can’t ask for more than that,” he concluded.