"I've always had an interest in dentistry and had been considering a career change for quite some time," explained Naomi.
Her interest began at a young age when she watched her mother go through the trauma of losing all her teeth from infection, resulting in the need for dentures.
"Growing up, I thought it was normal for adults to have dentures. I also thought my mum's militant approach to my teeth brushing was normal," she laughed.
Her mother's attitude towards oral health extended to Naomi's dental check-ups, where she'd have her tooth brushing proficiency assessed by the dentist – something she found anxiety-inducing.
"I've carried that anxious feeling into my adulthood, and now I can ensure my patients don't feel anxious about their dental visit."
Having already studied with TAFE Queensland, Naomi knew the dental prosthetics course would be taught in a hands-on environment that blended practical and theory, suiting her learning style.
"During my first year of study, I'd spend Fridays in the dental laboratory, learning the basics of denture construction and repair under the guidance of my teachers."
"The camaraderie among my class as we learnt new things was amazing for my development. We'd learn from our mistakes and improve our skills, and I have great memories of those Fridays!" she explained.
During her studies, Naomi also loved the clinical sessions where she learnt how to provide the best service for patients.
"One of the greatest pleasures I get from dental prosthetics is delivering positive outcomes for patients."
"When I see someone with new dentures look in the mirror for the first time and see their whole demeanour change, I get filled with pure joy," she said.
Her course also connected her to Australian Dental Prosthetics Association (ADPA) study clubs, giving her networking opportunities and continuing professional development, enhancing her knowledge further.
"TAFE Queensland provides students with so many learning opportunities from within the industry – including the invaluable mentorship program."
"My mentor was from the industry and gave me insights from outside the classroom, garnered from their many years experience, providing me with invaluable development opportunities."
On top of mentoring and industry connections, she also completed a work placement with West Moreton Health at Ipswich Community Dental Clinic. While there, she worked alongside qualified professionals and actual patients.
"During my placement, I worked under the guidance of the prosthetists, laboratory manager and dental assistants in a real-world setting, enhancing my skills even further."
Graduating in 2021, Naomi sees the positive impact oral health and rehabilitation can make on people's lives, and she's excited to begin her new career.
"When I decided to change careers, I wanted something that would be varied and challenging that would also give me a sense of fulfilment."
"And thanks to TAFE Queensland, I know I'll gain employment as a dental prosthetist and continue building my skills for the future."
"Longer term, I'd like to make oral health rehabilitation more accessible to those in more remote communities – just imagine the positive impact that would have on people's lives!" she concluded.