By Faye Doughty
2nd September 2019, my first day as a fully fledged dentist. I was ready and raring to go in my freshly ironed scrubs (a rare occurrence thereafter). However, I never thought that I’d end up facing a global pandemic half way through my dental foundation training.
Restrictions on face-to-face appointments were in place between 25th March and 8th June 2020 as per government guidance. This resulted in 11 weeks of no clinical activity for foundation dentists, unavoidably leading to a deficit in clinical experience.
Telephone triage was implemented to mitigate the lack of face-to-face consultations.
Dealing with patients’ dental needs and resolving their issues over the phone has allowed me to develop both my communication and management skills. At times I had to liaise with colleagues at urgent dental centres to ensure the patient’s path to the appropriate care was unimpeded.
My undergraduate training at University of Manchester was largely focussed around evidence-based practice. Utilising evidence-based practice during COVID-19 has been crucial to maintain excellent standards of care. Providing patients with prevention advice from the Delivering Better Oral Health Toolkit has been invaluable throughout lockdown. Preventing a problem is a lot easier than managing one.
At times I have had to remotely prescribe antimicrobials. I have been referring to FGDP guidance on antimicrobial prescribing to ensure each script is appropriate and justified.
Every effort has been made to minimise disruptions to the non-clinical aspects of the DFT curriculum. Dental education has been impacted by COVID-19, technology has been utilised to overcome these challenges. I have benefitted from tutorials and study days that have been delivered through online platforms.
Many educational and innovative webinars have been accessible online during lockdown. These webinars have allowed me to continue to develop my knowledge and focus on areas where I am lacking in clinical activity, ensuring I am still addressing learning needs outside of the surgery.
Over the past few months I have been working on improving my portfolio. I have had the time to work on projects that I wouldn’t usually have the time to prioritise. I wrote an article on the ‘Impact of COVID-19 on Dental Education and Training’. This enabled me to get back into the practice of academic writing – it had been a while!
I was given the opportunity to participate in a Zoom teaching session for the University of Manchester final year students. I was examined on a restorative viva case as the students watched. A Q&A session followed straight after. This was a great chance for me to gain teaching experience and develop my public speaking skills.
I have stayed connected with family and friends through socially distanced walks and the obligatory weekly Zoom quizzes. A Zoom night in may be the new night out!
Whilst lockdown has been an uncertain time for us all, it has also been a time for productivity and self reflection. I have had the chance to build on many skills and even achieve some personal goals during this time.