JOSH Wyper had never considered a career working in rural Australia before undertaking the oral health degree at Charles Sturt University (CSU).
Now, recently graduated from CSU gaining a distinction in his final year of study, Mr Wyper has secured a position as an oral health therapist in Dubbo.
During his Bachelor of Oral Health (Therapy/Hygiene) degree at the University's School of Dentistry and Health Sciences in Wagga Wagga, the Gold Coast resident secured the Bila Muuji Health Service Scholarship, valued at $7000.
The scholarship, offered to second year oral health students at CSU, is supported by the Bila Muuji Aboriginal Health Services Inc comprising of Aboriginal Medical Services from Balranald, Brewarrina, Bourke, Coomealla, Coonamble, Dubbo, Orange, Wellington and Walgett.
"The Bila Muuji scholarship has provided me with a great opportunity to travel around to rural and Aboriginal communities where there is limited access to dental and oral health services," Mr Wyper said.
"I'd like to start off my career within the public health system, where I believe I will be exposed to a greater degree of cases which will enhance my clinical skills and will enable me to help bring about positive changes."
During the final year of his three-year degree at CSU, Mr Wyper also attended clinical placements at the Wagga Wagga Base Hospital, the CSU Dental and Oral Health Clinics in Albury-Wodonga and Wagga Wagga and a two-week volunteer work placement treating impoverished children in Cambodia.
As a result of those experiences, the CSU graduate hopes to continue his education at CSU.
"I want to further my studies to so I can perform more complex procedures on patients," Mr Wyper said. "I would also eventually like to run my own practice and be in charge of a team of other dental professionals."
"The School is very proud of the achievements of the 2012 oral health therapy graduating class," head of the School of Dentistry and Health Sciences, Professor David Wilson said.
"Charles Sturt University oral health therapy graduates are remaining in regional NSW in significant proportions.
"Our first group of dental science students will graduate at the end of 2013 and, based on feedback from existing fourth year students, there will be a similar retention pattern.
"As is evident in official reports on the oral health status of rural and regional Australians, there remains a significant inequality in terms of access to dental care by rural patients."
Mr Wyper said studying at Charles Sturt University has definitely changed the way he thought about oral health.
"Throughout the degree, I not only learnt about teeth, but I also gained an understanding of the medical, psychological and community context of oral health," he said.
After attending his graduation ceremony from CSU in Wagga Wagga last week, with 10 other oral health graduates, Mr Wyper has urged others to think about a career in oral health.
"Based in regional Australia, the class sizes at Charles Sturt University are smaller in comparison to metropolitan-based universities," he said.