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Working abroad

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Working abroad

Surinder qualified from the University of Sheffield in 2011. She has since held oral surgery and restorative jobs in London hospitals and has passed the MFDS examination. Surinder has worked in NHS and private practice in the UK and now practises as a general dental practitioner in Singapore. Holding a holistic view to healthcare she enjoys working with anxious patients, carrying out oral surgery and is involved with public oral health teaching.

Maybe you have been contemplating it for a while or maybe in a moment of spontaneity the decision has been made. You're doing it. After all, opportunities should be seized and this is one not to miss. You are going to work abroad.

With a bold smile and a tad of nervousness you hop onto the plane which will transport you to your new home. This home will provide the base for an exciting new experience.


There are a few things you may wish to think about before you move including: your destination, finding work and registrations, finances and settling in. There may be other explorers who may wish to join you or you may end up meeting a few like-minded expats on your travels.

Your destination

A short holiday may have sealed the deal or you may be drawn to a particular place. Do a little research on where you are heading - language, visas, climate, vaccinations, food and people. Your personal preferences may have a bearing on where you decide to venture. Check for any vaccination requirements before you go as healthcare systems may be different abroad.

Finding work

In a technologically advanced society, the google search engine can really lend a hand. Researching different clinics and available vacancies can often be easily done this way.

Sometimes it's not what you know but who you know - ask your colleagues and dental contacts if they have anyone to connect you with. This may result in a coffee with a new acquaintance or potentially a job offer!

Dentistry as a vocation can provide work anywhere - everybody has teeth. Ensure you check the requirements and recognition of your BDS at your destination. Some countries require you to sit exams whereas others do not.
Figure out what kind of job you would like - practice, hospital, community or a mix of these and then see where there is a need for these services.


Once you've secured a position get all of the relevant registration information and approximate time frames. This may include signing a contract, visiting the local dental council, visiting local employment bodies, gaining a permit to practise, settling fees with the country's dental association and indemnity. A radiation licence may also be required. Getting set up can sometimes be a lengthy process so ensure you give yourself enough time to meet all of the relevant criteria.

Staying on the GDC register is often advised but how easy is it to get back on once you've left? Documents required include a certificate of good standing from the country in which you were practising as well as up to date and relevant evidence of CPD . Keep those certificates and log anything you do complete. Check when your CPD cycle ends and how long you are thinking of being away for as the requirements vary according to your situation. The choice is yours.


Moving somewhere new even for a short period of time comes at a cost. It is worth having a cushion of cash in your bank account particularly if you're not initially working. Activities, accommodation, flights, fees, food and drink will add up. Bank charges for withdrawals sometimes cannot be avoided initially and a non-charging credit card is worth seeking out before you leave - just make sure you pay the bill.

Settling in to a new place

Once the reality hits and the excitement wears down a little, finding your feet may take a little bit of time. Integration into a new place can be a wonderful experience but also a little overwhelming. A different culture, different food and different people can take time to adapt to. It's a big change and be kind to yourself in the transition phase.

You may wish to ask your friends for introductions to people they may know in the area. It is also easy to look up different hobbies and interests you have. Local activity groups will introduce you to a range of different people. Go for that drink and get out and about - you never know who you will meet. You may wish to try a new activity which may connect you further. There are apps such as 'meet up' for local groups and expat websites for most countries. Again new friendships can be made this way. The joys of the Internet, FaceTime, viber and whatsapp will help keep you in touch with loved ones and if things are ever tricky, remember home is just a flight away!

Make the most of it, particularly if it is a year abroad or a short term move. You've been brave enough to step out and do it so embrace every moment, enjoy the local delights and of course the weather. The potential for personal growth and broadening your horizons is phenomenal. Living somewhere new really draws in new perspectives. Welcome the experience with open arms and enjoy.

Surinder Poonian


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