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Diary of a fourthyear dental student – Charlotte Gentry


  Posted by: The Probe      25th May 2018

BACK in 2016 I gave you an insight into the diary of a second-year student. I was very much a ‘pre-clinical student’ then and life consisted of lectures with a few clinical simulation sessions. But a lot has changed since then, so I thought I would provide an insight into my diary this year to see how it compares to two years ago!

This year has been the hardest yet. It feels as though we’ve had exams every other week. Having the stress of meeting clinical requirements, managing our patient books and preparing for clinics on top of revision is pretty tough going. However, we have just finished our OSCE, which marks the end of our exams… until next year!

What my week looks like

Our weeks are pretty busy. Mondays tend to be 9am – 5pm lectures, which is our only day of being taught theory. Tuesdays and Fridays we have ‘clinical practice’. This is essentially meant to be similar to working as a GDP – having regular patients for check-ups, scales, restorative work, prosthetics etc. This is where we gain most of our clinical experience and requirements for entering into finals. We have an afternoon session on these days that consist of two one-and-a-half-hour slots. We can double these up if we have a long treatment, such as a root canal treatment. These sessions allow us to learn how to work well with our nurse and receptionists so we are ready for the big wide world in practice.

We then have our speciality teaching; last year was prosthetics, periodontology and oral surgery and this year we have oral medicine, oral surgery, orthodontics, endodontics and paediatrics. These sessions are highly valuable and ensure we get experience in all aspects of dentistry that we will encounter. We get one session every two weeks for each speciality; I actually feel that this isn’t enough, however I appreciate there is limited time. In our speciality teaching we encounter the most complex elements as many of the patients we see have been referred from their GDP. This enhances our experience and we learn an awful lot that hopefully ensures we are able to manage these more difficult cases in practice.

‘Heroic’ dentistry

I have just begun my outreach sessions, too, which I feel are the most valuable sessions we have. At the dental hospital, I would say we do a lot of ‘heroic’ dentistry. Much of what we do we probably wouldn’t have the time or resources for in practice. I feel that working in the community has given us a real insight into the kind of treatment we will be doing day-to-day and the true treatment options we can provide on the NHS. Not only has it been a reality check when it comes down to treatment, it has also made me realise that I seriously need to speed up. An hour and a half for one appointment is a real luxury at the dental hospital, although we still get more time than we would have in practice, and this is giving us the opportunity to speed up and prepare for our DFT year.

I have my elective period at the end of this term, which is an opportunity for us to travel and research anything we want; it doesn’t have to be dentistry-related. We can learn knew skills or enhance the skills we already have and we also get a bit of a break before the final year starts.

All in all, life as a fourth-year dental student is hard going and tiring but with graduation getting ever closer, I hope I will soon realise it was all worth it. I have no idea whether the way we are taught now has changed over the years and it would be interesting to hear how dentistry was taught in the past. 

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