What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted in your life? (Feel free to give specific brands/models).
I don’t know if this qualifies as an answer, but I signed up to Audible (the audio book service). Ever since I got accepted into my course at university, I realised that I had lost touch with many things I enjoyed prior. I used to love reading books, I loved learning about anything, and I was fascinated by people’s stories. Over the last 3 or so years, my focus has shifted towards more “personal development” genres in the books I read, and audible has been indispensable in being able to multitask. It comes down to me being able to go through a book whilst I am commuting to work, cooking food, working out etc. and it almost makes this a meditative exercise rather than a chore. I think this has most positively impacted my life BECAUSE of the books I have read, and they have imparted and enforced values of gratitude, accountability and perspective… this has been important in these tough times more than ever.
What is the funniest thing that has happened (to you or witnessed) in your job?
I work in the largest family owned dental practice in Australia, and we’re based out in the Melbourne CBD. Most of our clients are busy, time-pinched individuals who are working in the city, so work is usually serious at times… but within all of that, there is one memory which sticks out: it was probably one of my first patients within the first few weeks, and it was a little girl who came in with her parents for the first time. She was extremely scared of the dentist, but she was so brave that she didn’t want to show it. We ended up finding out that she was super into Marvel Superheroes (as am I), so we spent the better part of the appointment just chilling out and watching the intro to Spider-Man on Netflix. Her parents couldn’t believe how relaxed she was, and she’s been an awesome patient ever since. Just goes to show that focusing on people rather than the job/money can go such a long way.
Favourite guilty pleasure after a stressful day at work?
I must say, after a stressful day at work, I used to enjoy going to the gym and grabbing post-gym frozen yoghurt with friends in pre-COVID times, but recently I have thoroughly enjoyed taking time off gym and making use of technology in the 21st century to connect with family and loved ones: i.e. having my family & partner on facetime and chatting whilst playing video games for a couple hours with friends across different states – almost takes the edge of Melbourne isolation.
How has a failure (or apparent failure) set you up for later success? Do you have a "favourite failure" of yours?
I once read a quote which went something along the lines of “it’s not win or lose, its win or learn”. At first it didn’t really mean much, but I feel it has really struck a chord with me in recent times. When things don’t go to plan, or when everything that could go wrong does go wrong, it’s easy to get lost in the abyss of fear and anxiety, but over time I am learning to shift my focus more towards self-reflection on what had occurred and figuring out exactly what I learned from the event. Discussing with other people who are in your field also helps a lot, because chances are if you have made a mistake, everyone has made the exact same one. Perspective and accountability is really important (yet difficult!) to employ here. At the end of the day, if you have tried your level best, are an honest and safe practitioner, and your patient is not harmed, then it can’t be all bad… right?
If you have a billboard for all other healthcare professionals out there with any message, what would it say? (It can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)
“Love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life”. This quote really hit home and is a north star for me whenever I feel overwhelmed or disenchanted in my field. It’s a reminder that it doesn’t take anyone with superpowers to be in position where I am, but it definitely takes a certain type of person to be genuinely passionate about it… and that’s what makes it worthwhile.
What is an unusual habit or (conventionally considered to be) absurd thing that you do/love (may or may not be related to your discipline/practice)?
Relating to practice, I am rather obsessed with documentation during treatment. In university I was fascinated with photography and these days it translates over to my clinical practice. I am constantly experimenting and playing around with how best I can incorporate my knack for photography and visualisation into my everyday work life. It has become an invaluable tool when discussing and communicating with patients and fellow colleagues, and it is a skill I would highly recommend learning to all my future colleagues still in school.
In the last 5 years, what new belief, behaviour or habit that has most improved your life (may or may not be related to your discipline/practice)?
Gratitude, perspective. End of story.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven student? What advice should they ignore?
I think traditionally smart and driven students will always excel one way or another, however one piece of advice I will give is this: don’t think too narrow too quick. Dentistry is tremendously vast, and despite you knowing things you currently do or do not like within practice, it is way too early to rule something out. Do everything – learn endodontics even if it’s hard, do orthodontics even if it’s boring, learn how to start a business even if you never planned to… experience is everything and you owe it to yourself to not short-change all of your hard work.
What bad recommendations you hear in your area of expertise that you would want to correct the most?
What I’d like to correct, or maybe just ADJUST slightly, is the mindset of graduates in dentistry. I’d like to teach them to think more as qualified practitioners and remove the fixation on finding a crutch, in the form of a mentor, to rely on after graduation. I’d like to shift this towards a mindset to find experienced colleagues with whom they can surround themselves with in a mutually respectful environment, and with whom they are comfortable working alongside.
In the last 5 years, what have you become better at saying "no" to? What new realizations helped?
I don’t think I have become better yet :’) it’s a work in progress.
When you feel overwhelmed or lost focus temporarily, what do you do? (What questions do you ask yourself to get back on track?)
Given my personality type, I don’t find myself getting overwhelmed all that often anymore, however when I do it can be quite a demoralising feeling. I think taking time to perform some self-reflection and discussing (or venting!) with fellow colleagues who carry more experience has been the best thing for myself.
What is your best or your favourite achievement in your career so far?
I am grateful and extremely privileged to be able to start my career in a practice like the one I currently am in. In my opinion, I believe there was no better place for someone like me get my foot in the door and learn so much about all aspects of my practice. It allows me to learn SO MUCH every day, yet love every facet of it.
Interested in reading more? Check out Dr. Avi's LinkedIn article for more advice for young dentists!: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/read-you-young-dentist-aviral-aggarwal
Dr Aviral Aggarwal joined Smile Solutions after completing a Bachelor of Dental Surgery from James Cook University in 2019. His experience in public and private clinics across Queensland, Canberra and Tasmania have lent him capabilities in treating a variety of dental conditions for a variety of patients, including children.
His gentle and caring approach to dental health allows him to offer comprehensive care to all his patients, a unique opportunity at Smile Solutions due to a full range of specialists within one building.
Dr Avi enjoys all aspects of dentistry, with a keen interest in restorative and cosmetic dentistry – using cutting edge technologies and evidence-based practices to achieve beautiful results and happy smiles.