Taking the opportunities

Recent graduate, Dr Muhamed Agag has found volunteering at St Pat’s a greatly rewarding experience – and urges dental students and other recent grads to take the opportunities to help others.


Dr Muhamed Agag has always liked to give back, but it was in his third year of Dental School when he had the opportunity to go on an overseas volunteering trip that his passion for volunteering was really ignited. “I went with a few of my classmates to Nepal and we volunteered for 10 days at a village on the outskirts of Kathmandu,” he recalls. “The stark difference of access to dental care compared to here – and how grateful those people were to see a dentist to solve problems that had been lingering for a long period of time, was an experience that really switched me onto volunteering.

“After what I experienced in Nepal, I felt as dentists we all have this training and the ability to not only get people out of pain and make them more comfortable, but to help with their self-esteem and the way they project themselves to the world, which is why I wanted to continue to volunteer.”

Volunteering at St Pat’s

Muhamed graduated in 2020, and a year later enquired about volunteering at the oral health clinic at St Patrick’s Community Support Centre in Fremantle, which provides support to people experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of homelessness. He has been volunteering there once a month ever since.

He says all the staff at St Pat’s were very welcoming and helped him settle in quickly.

Muhamed adds the feedback from patients has been rewarding. “I have treated a lot of patients who only needed little things, but those little things have made a massive difference to their life,” he says. 

“There was a young person with a broken front tooth that was giving them a lot of trouble,” he recalls. “They had a really rough couple of years and were trying to get life back in order and trying to get a new job, but the tooth was a barrier for them. It wasn’t particularly difficult to fix but showing them the final outcome in the mirror was such an emotional moment for everyone because for them it meant the world.”

A sense of service

Muhamed says volunteering has made him more grateful for the set of skills he has acquired, and for the profession he is a part of. “I am also grateful that I can help people and heal people,” he says. “Not only in the sense of pain and infection but helping patients being at peace in themselves and improving their self-esteem and confidence. 

“I enjoy the sense of service that comes with volunteering,” he adds. “There is also a sense of community. As well as seeing the transformations, being this little cog in the journey of someone who is trying to better their life brings a lot of joy.”

Message to other new graduates

To dental students and new practitioners considering volunteering, Muhamed says to go for it. “If you can, take on opportunities that are present in Dental School, whether it be one of the Rescue Days or an overseas trip, because they can be amazing experiences,” he says.

“Once you graduate, if you have the time, it is always good to give back a little and take on some volunteering days. It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment, but it can be a small part of your life that makes a massive difference to someone else’s life.”

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