Gemma Gaw: Inspiring the next generation of dentists

Published on 18 October 2021

Gemma Gaw shares her story, inspiring the next generation of dental students and recognising the challenges that the next generation face in light of Covid-19

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Whilst studying for her degree in dentistry Gemma worked as programme officer for Reach Tayside, facilitating a series of events designed to educate, encourage and empower pupils from ‘non-traditional’ backgrounds to pursue future careers in the ‘high demand professions’ including Dentistry, Law and Medicine.

This year saw the launch of the Reach Alumni Masterclass which brought together 14 alumni from across the globe and pupils from Reach Tayside who expressed an interest in studying Law, Medicine or Dentistry.

Studying at Dundee gave Gemma a great foundation for her career in dentistry.

“Dentistry is a five year long degree that combines theory with clinical practice. Looking after patients within Dundee Dental Hospital, under the supervision of staff, was a huge privilege and gave me so much experience and knowledge that is essential for being a good dentist, said Gemma

“The University in general, as well as the dental school, is such a unique, supportive, and inclusive community. All of the staff are so invested in the students, and you get to know each other really well, which means help is always there if you need it!

“Studying Dentistry at Dundee gave me the confidence to be a good clinician, and to push myself to achieve all that I can for my patients. The majority of my learning was on the clinic, observing and learning from world class leaders in Dentistry, which was so inspiring.

“However, the highlight of my time in Dundee is all the people, and lifelong friends, that I've met. It is a place that I will always call home.”

Gemma Gaw (left) with a friend at Graduation

Since graduating in 2018 Gemma has continued her training throughout Scotland, exploring a number of specialities as well as using her training to support the Covid-19 vaccine programme.

“I completed my Vocational Training (VT) year in Dundee, and then worked as an Associate Dentist and Out of Hours Dentist in Fife and Forth Valley. To further my skills and training, I completed one year of Dental Core Training in the Public Dental Service in Lanarkshire caring for Paediatric and Special Care patients, and within Oral Surgery at Glasgow Dental Hospital. I am now completing year two of Dental Core Training within Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Forth Valley Royal Hospital. I have also worked as a COVID-19 vaccinator during the pandemic.”

As a former Reach programme Officer Gemma has remained closely involved with Reach and recognises its significance now more than ever considering the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Reach is such an important initiative to help students with the potential and ambition to study Dentistry through the process of preparing and applying. This has been an exceptionally tough year for the dental profession, especially for the students and applicants. I wanted to meet the students and extend my support to them through this challenging time and hopefully inspire them to stay resilient.”

Gemma was delighted to participate in the Masterclass series.

“It was lovely to reflect on my time in Dundee, and all that I gained from it. However, the highlight of course were the pupils and students who I got to meet! They were interested in the training pathways for Dentists and all of the many opportunities available, which aren't well known.

“It's important to understand what being a Dentist involves, and the qualities of a good dentist. Work experience is essential, however due to the pandemic it is not currently possible. Keeping in touch with Reach and taking part in their events will connect the pupils with Dental Students and Dentists to help them understand the job - which is far more than drilling and filling! 

“I know I'll meet these students and pupils on the clinic or the ward again in a few years’ time!”


Pamela Lawrence

Alumni Relations and Major Events (ARME) Manager

+44 (0)1382 381184

Story category Alumni