Expert Q&A – April 2021

Expert Q&A with: Dr. Melissa Chew

I think it is important to get good mentorship. Mentorship is invaluable, especially post-graduation. "


Dr. Melissa Chew studied Bachelors of Dental Science at the University of Melbourne, graduating in 2013.

She fervently believes that education plays a major role both in empowering clientele with oral health knowledge as well as in one’s own continuing professional development.

Melissa’s area of expertise as a 7 year long practicing dentist in Lilydale resides in cosmetic and restorative dentistry.

Aside from the technicalities, Dr Chew possesses an innate ability to connect with patients at a personal level, building long standing relationships whilst assuaging apprehensions to put their minds at ease.

Besides work, she is quite fond of escape rooms and travel.

How do you find working in community clinic vs. private and how was our transition?

Both community and private clinics have their advantages and disadvantages. As a new grad, I found community clinic to be a place where I could improve my clinical skills after graduation. I was able to enhance my techniques, increase my efficiency and develop the fundamental ‘bread and butter’ of dentistry without having the pressure to meet business demands because you are on salary. I was also fortunate enough to work with great staff and make life-long friends. Alternatively, I found that working in the public sector also had its limitations. Depending on your particular interest, you will not be able to see a lot of prosthodontic and complex multi-disciplinary cases. You will spend most of your time doing restorative work, emergency care and cleanings.

On the other hand, in private practice, there is the additional pressure of meeting targets, time management, keeping your books filled and patient retention. Communication became the biggest obstacle. In community clinic, I found that I did not have to sell my treatment plan and building rapport was not as necessary. While in private, I could not sell the treatment plans without building rapport. Dental work can be costly and patients can be very reluctant about treatment expenses, so it is imperative that you convey the information well and provide patients with appropriate options. The transition from public to private was initially difficult; however, rewarding. There are genuinely positive aspects to both, but ultimately, I felt I had more potential to grow as a clinician in private practice.


Being a few years out, what advice would you recommend to new grads?

I think it is important to get good mentorship. A mentor can be anyone who imparts knowledge like a friend, relative, peer, teacher or someone you merely meet in passing. Someone who is willing to simply listen, make suggestions/ give advice, is supportive and understands what it means to be a new grad. Look for positions that offer mentorships specifically in your field of interest. Do not be afraid to leave a company if they are not willing to teach you and facilitate your learning, particularly early on. Mentorship is invaluable, especially post-graduation. 

If you are struggling with something, ask for help (online or in person), take CPD courses, watch videos, etc. Be proactive and use the resources that are available out there, e.g. dental forums, Facebook, Instagram, podcasts. We are fortunate to have the information at our fingertips.

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