So this is a difficult enough decision to make. And add into that a global pandemic… you might be stressing! Well, don’t, please! Here are a few pointers which will, I hope, help any potential dentists out there see that actually this is a great time to be joining the profession.
Worried about work experience?
We know that you may not have been able to go into dental practices to shadow dentists and we also know that the work experience placements dentists sometimes offer may be off the cards for a while – social distancing, a backlog of work, PPE etc are all potential hurdles. We have put together a list of resources which you can access online to try to help you gain an appreciation of the career – you can find these here - as well as information about applying in 2020 for other healthcare degrees.
What about volunteering?
Lots of healthcare courses ask for voluntary work to have been done so you can broaden your horizons, get an appreciation of helping others in need, and get a feel for working with people from different backgrounds to you and your peers at School or College. Covid-19 has actually brought a whole new range of possibilities about where you can help those in the wider community who need it now – foodbanks, fundraising, remote support to isolated community members, supporting those in your community who need it in any way possible. The traditional charity shop or care home work may be off the cards for now, but there are lots of other options. Remember that we value tenacity, ingenuity and resilience – all attributes you can show if you work out how you can be of service to those who may need somebody at the moment and in the coming months.
I’m worried my exams may be cancelled.
I understand this is a massive issue and many of you will be worried. Please don’t be. Your grades will be calculated (if necessary) fairly, and we have robust protocols in place to ensure that all applicants are treated fairly too. Everyone is in the same boat on this one – just work hard and do your best at home and when you return to School or College.
How has lockdown been for the University? And Dentistry as a whole?
This last few weeks has certainly been a challenge. I have been teaching students from home via video conferences, home-schooling, helping out at the PHE lab at Heartlands Hospital Covid-19 testing centre, building up resources to support our students and prospective students online, and doing things like our virtual open day preparation, which will happen on 26th June.
Our students have also been volunteering in the community as well as continuing their studies remotely. Our hospital has been repurposed to see patients from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s outpatients clinics, providing phlebotomy services, as well as dental triaging and urgent treatment services. Our part time tutors, many of whom own their own practices, are now able to start to get things up and running again, but it must be said that the leadership of the profession has been called into question.
Sadly the Government and Regulatory body support for Dentistry has been inadequate, and many Dentists have been left very frustrated, and patients and businesses have also suffered. Now we must all start climbing the mountain of getting our services back up to where they need to be to look after our community’s dental needs and doing the job we all trained to do.
So… Dentistry needs YOU! Are you adaptable? Capable? Resilient? Diligent? Then you could well be who we’re looking for to join us in this profession!
Words: Dr Batts (Dental Admissions Tutor at UoB, Clinical Lecturer in Restorative Dentistry)