By Rebecca Guy
“Happy 2020, this is our year!” The world cheered and celebrated as it turned 12:00am on 1st January. Myself, and my final year colleagues, had been waiting for this year to come for a long time and I was nervous but excited at the prospect of finishing my Degree, Graduation and starting working life.
However, we were all blissfully unaware of what was to come and little did we know that life would change dramatically. Everything we had worked for would be hanging in the balance, just 3 short months later.
On 17th March 2020, Manchester Dental Hospital announced that its doors would be closing for the foreseeable future. For us final year students, it was an abrupt ending to a 5-year degree. After apologising to case patients, most of whom we were mid-way through treating, we said our goodbyes-for-now on clinic and I left feeling concerned at what would be in store in the coming months.
Combined with the major concerns about the health of our family and friends, we also had the worry of: can we still sit our final exams? How can we do this if we cannot attend University? If we can sit the exams, will I be prepared enough to sit them by relying only on my own revision, with no extra support and last-minute revision seminars?
I think I speak collectively for the cohort by saying it was major panic stations. However, I cannot fault how the teaching staff at Manchester Dental Hospital adapted to the changing situation and how supportive they were throughout. Meetings were held, and an action plan was quickly formulated. It was a massive relief when we were informed that we could still sit exams, and that all being well, would finish this year.
Almost overnight, face-to-face teaching was replaced by Zoom® tutorials, and over the next few weeks a ‘new normal’ way of exam preparation was established. The staff also supported us pastorally, with both dental / personal worries.
Consultants and Specialists from all areas of Dentistry provided seminars, which were particularly helpful to consolidate revision. It quickly became apparent that if you were ready and organised, camera was on and if you were still in your pyjamas, camera was off. A new feature that would have been very useful to us all, more than once, during our student lives.
After daily pep-talks with my friends and being prepared as we would have been pre-pandemic by my teachers, the morning came that the short answer paper was released. The questions were challenging but fair. This was followed by the release of 3 clinical scenarios covering Restorative, Paediatrics/Orthodontics and Oral Surgery/Oral Medicine.
We prepared and submitted our case reports, and anxiously awaited our reformatted last exam: a video viva from a Consultant and a Clinical Tutor, which replaced the old unseen case. Again, this was well executed by the staff.
On Friday 29th May 2020, my colleagues and I received an email, which read: “Congratulations, you have passed the Final BDS Examinations”. At that moment, it was clear that 2020, was not the year we expected, but that it was still our year.
Congratulations to all of my friends and colleagues, and thank you to all of the teaching staff for supporting me over the past 5 years.