Masters in a dental surgery (MDS) is a post-graduation program in various disciplines in dentistry. In India, 259 colleges are recognized by DCI, offering 6228 seats in various disciplines. The duration of the course is three years. These specialization programs help dental graduates enhance their skills and aptitude in a particular specialty and allow them to work as a specialist for the same. The course aids in enhancing existing knowledge of the students, orient them towards research and familiarize them with advanced clinical aids which can help them build a successful practice.
After qualifying the eligibility exams, most eligible students are under-informed and uncertain about colleges/ subjects to be chosen and end up confused during counselling. Many even regret their decisions during their MDS. So a thorough analysis of the college and available courses is crucial. Below are a few important factors you should consider before choosing a college and course. Read on.
You should consider the following factors while choosing the college:
- Accreditation of the college/university: Knowledge of the accreditation of the college/ university helps in determining the standards of the college and quality of education delivered. (e.g., NAAC, ISO)
- Staff/ Professors/Guides: A thorough research on quality staff and professors is a must. In post-graduation studies, the role of a guide is pivotal. They help in enhancing our reasoning ability and educate students in both theoretic and clinical aspect. Thus, the presence of such eminent staff/ guide can help you attain greater exposure and improve your learning abilities.
- Type of institution/ Condition of the institution: Knowledge about whether the college is government or private is important. Usually, fees and expenditure in private colleges is much higher when compared to that of the government ones. Also, Government colleges offer a monthly stipend throughout your course which can help in managing expenses. Information about advanced technologies being offered in colleges is equally important. Make sure you check the infrastructure/amenities of the college as well.
- Fees: Knowledge about fees can aid in better financial planning. Although, while choosing a private college the basic fees through common entrance remain same for all the colleges within the same university. But, an added expense to be considered is material fees. Every college has different material fees which are to be paid separately along with the fees every year. It can range from Rs. 20,000-1,00,000/ year.
- Patient flow: In post-graduation studies, along with the theoretical knowledge clinical exposure is a must. Thus, the number of outpatient registration should be adequate to provide appropriate exposure.
- The environment of the department: Spending three years in learning becomes easier if the environment of the department (including the staff and seniors) is of mutual respect, collegial, and pleasant. This insight can be gathered from the former/current students or any other reliable source within the college.
The colleges shortlisted, let’s get down to choosing the courses based on your rank. Consider the following factors:
- Your interests and the prospects of the course: Choosing your subject of interest will ensure you are more engaged and interested through the next three years, and in the long term. You should also consider the prospects of the chosen field. For instance, the number of RCT cases in a given clinic are likely to outnumber Periodontal “Flap” cases. Also, given the demand of dental implants in clinical practice, students opting for subjects relevant to dental implants may have an edge over others.
- Clinical vs. non-clinical subjects: Considering your future plans can help you better decide whether you want to choose a clinical or a non-clinical subject. Choose a clinical subject if you plan to open a clinic or work for one. If you plan to go for research, or are interested in teaching then non-clinical subjects can be beneficial.
Location is the most underrated factor when people think about colleges. This is the place where you’ll spend the next three years of your life, and deserves some serious consideration. Think about the following factors:
- Distance from your hometown: Staying away from home and visiting hometown less often due to limited number of holidays can cause homesickness. Also, teething troubles regarding food and place in unfamiliar locations can be frustrating.
- Choosing a college located in city: You may prefer a college in the city over colleges in smaller towns and districts as it is easier to start consultations (specialty practices) or develop a network at the post-graduation level. You will also get opportunities to take up a part-time job to manage your expenses. If you plan to settle outside India after MDS, you’ll have easier access to TOEFL, IELTS, or foreign language classes.
- Choosing a college located in semi-urban areas: You may prefer a college in smaller towns or districts over a large city as the number of patients visiting such colleges is higher than the ones in cities. Also, the cost of living in such places is inexpensive compared to cities. Although entertainment options are limited, a substantial semi-urban experience will help those who want to go back and open a clinic in semi-urban and rural areas.
- Choosing a college in a place where you would like to settle: Studying in a college in the place where you desire to practice in future will help you develop a network with other doctors without much difficulty. It will be easier to get referrals for consultations which in turn helps develop your practice. You will also benefit from the proximity of your college professors, who can guide you through your personal and professional challenges.
We hope this helps you shortlist the colleges based on your rank and other priorities. We encourage you to refer to the national and state-wise seat distribution, and the merit list of the previous years to get an estimate of colleges and subjects available to you. Leveraging contacts with your seniors or friends in various colleges can also help you get an insight of the shortlisted college and department.
About the author
Dr. Shilpy Bhandari is a Hyderabad-based Periodontist and the founder of Dentistry Insider. She has worked extensively across dental clinics of all sizes — from large corporate chains to small, independent setups.
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