Dr Reivan Al-Dood arrived in Australia from Iraq with his mum, dad, and brother in 2016. Since then, he has been working tirelessly towards building his life in a new country. Since his arrival, Reivan had a dream: studying dentistry and create positive change to people’s quality of life and wellbeing.
“Having a full-time job as a dentist and making a living out of what I love is a dream come true. I couldn’t change it for any other job. Being a dentist is exactly what I want to do,” says Dr. Reivan, who graduated in 2022 and has been working full time since the beginning of this year.
“During my time at university, I would always talk to professors, ask questions, and help them out in research projects. This has been essential to start my professional career on the front foot. I took all the opportunities I had to learn from the experts. Seven months before my graduation, I started applying for jobs. My first interview was at the practice where I ended up working. I did many other interviews and was offered more than ten contracts. But this clinic in Merrylands, Western Sydney, was the first one to believe in me and that was very important to me.
It’s good to work there because I have patients from all walks of life, including refugees. That’s one of the reasons why I chose that location. I started in January 2023 and I’m loving it!”
As he works full time, Reivan is also specialising in implantology. Balancing study and full-time work is not easy, but he has a very clear goal and that makes it worth it for him. Long term, he would like to have his own business.
“Dentistry is very rewarding; it gives me the ability to help so many people. I would like to be a role model for those who are disadvantaged. My goal is to bring change to the profession and to be a good dentist by employing honesty, patient-centered care, empathy, professionalism, cultural sensitivity, and proactivity.”
The importance of coordinated supports
Since arriving in Australia, Reivan made the most out of every opportunity he had. Having the right supports and not being shy of looking for advice was the key for success for him.
CORE Community Services supported Reivan throughout his education journey. With the support of their Education, Training and Employment service, he was able to study at TAFE and enroll in Western Sydney University to start a degree in Medical Science. It opened the pathway to achieve his dream. After completing lab skills study at TAFE and accomplishing outstanding results at Western Sydney University, he could transfer to Griffith University to complete his dentistry studies.
Reivan highlights the great pathways Western Sydney University has for people from refugee background who have gone through different education systems. “They do great in helping refugees.”
Reivan became an outstanding student and high achiever. As a dentistry student, he also volunteered for a charity called Esesson Foundation to provide free dental healthcare for children.
When asked about who was that person that encouraged him the most, Reivan doesn’t hesitate to say it was his dad (and by extension his family). “My family has always encouraged me to move forward.”
“Finding freedom for me is having the opportunity to make choices, to do what I think it’s right to do. I find freedom when I have access to equal opportunity, and that means a lot. You work hard, you get what you want.”
Busting myths about refugees
“There are big misconceptions about refugees. A lot of people hear refugee and think of someone living in a tent. I’ve been living here for seven years and believe having coordinated supports to help people settle is an investment. I want to give back to the community and the people of Australia by being a hardworking and passionate dentist.
There’s a big shortage of dentists in Australia; having people who make the commitment to study and become a good dentist is an advantage for society, no matter the background of the dentist.”
Dr Reivan came to Australia as a refugee from Iraq. Today he’s a full time Dentist in Merrylands.