03 June 2024

Meet our 2024 Convention and Exhibition keynote speaker

Meet our 2024 Convention and Exhibition keynote speaker, Associate Professor Khaled Ahmed and uncover the person behind the dentist.

Why did you choose this career to be a dentist/specialist?

I was always fascinated by the medical field and looked up to my uncle, who is a cardiologist. Medicine was a six-year programme at the time, and Dentistry was five. It was an easy choice.

What was the best career advice you have received, and what advice would you give to those who are at the start of their career?

Keep at it. Be adaptable. And be nice to yourself.

Careers rarely progress linearly; rather it's a case of peaks and troughs. Understanding this is critical. Being patient and making the most out of challenges is probably one of the most critical skills to possess, and it takes time to acquire. Equally, treating yourself well, not comparing yourself to others, and asking for help while on this journey are immensely helpful to avoid burning out.

What are some of the challenges you face in your career?

My professional career trajectory has been unique in that it spans four continents: North America, Europe, Asia, and now Australia. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to study and work in the US, UK, Hong Kong, and Australia over the past 18 years. But this came with significant challenges of understanding the parallels between systems as well as the uniqueness of each one. This required great flexibility and patience. It was an eye-opening experience that I highly recommend.

What is the most rewarding part of your job, and does your work become more interesting with experience?

Impact: Having the opportunity to help shape the careers of future peers and colleagues through education. Improving patients' quality of life, especially those frail and vulnerable. Adding to the existing body of scientific evidence investigating, supporting, and improving our clinical practice through research, especially in digital dentistry and tooth wear. Engaging with professional bodies, regulators, and the wider community to enhance knowledge and access.

Why should delegates attend your sessions?

If you're interested in knowing how generative artificial intelligence has the potential to, in fact, it already is, transform how we practise, learn, teach, and conduct research. The session will show you how to use the openly available technology and understand its limitations and pitfalls.

How do you see dentistry changing in the next ten years?

Unrecognisable. While fundamental, clinically applied interventions will remain the same, cavity and crown preparations, root canal treatments, etc. Diagnostics and treatment planning, the core clinical skills of knowing/identifying and understanding before applying, will radically change through artificial intelligence and digital dentistry. Scopes of practice will inevitably change, and the dentist's role will revolve.

What is the most difficult case/project that you have ever had?

Managing a 16-year-old severe tooth wear patient with anorexia nervosa. Managing her dental needs and expectations, assisting her in seeking the medical help she needed, and respecting and maintaining her privacy and confidentiality despite family challenges were not an easy or quick task. Senior and more experienced colleagues, as well as a professional body like the ADAVB or other indemnity providers, can offer valuable advice and support in such cases.

What accomplishment in your career/work/research are you most proud of?

Indeed, joining one of the best Dental Schools in one of the best Universities in the world, the University of Melbourne's Dental School. That said, I'm also proud of my failures, or rather how I handled them: job rejections, denied promotions, missed grants, bad decisions, and many lost opportunities. Both our successes and failures contribute equally to our careers and who we are as professionals and individuals, and it is essential to take the time to reflect, celebrate, and learn from them.

What do you enjoy when you are not working?

Traveling around the world. There's a lot to discover: museums, art galleries, and beautiful libraries, of which there are plenty in Melbourne.