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RCSEd Dental Ambassadors on COVID-19: a Foundation Dentist's Perspective


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15 Jun 2020

After 12 weeks of lockdown, we caught up with Beth Bradley, who is an RCSEd Dental Ambassador in Northern Ireland and Dentist at Eccleshill Dental Practice.

Beth shared with us how she and her team have slowed down during their time in lockdown, built resilience and adapted to the enforced COVID-19 circumstances.

 

Beth qualified with distinction and with the Certificate of Metorious Performance in Professionalism from Leeds Dental Institute last year. She has a keen interest in dental journalism having taken up student editorial positions at BDJ and DentalTownUK throughout her undergraduate degree and she now helps peer review articles for the British Dental Journal. 

"It was 6 months into my first year as a dentist, I was just getting my confidence as a general dental practitioner with the early anxieties for simple dental tasks vanishing. Then unfortunately there was a flurry of talk from the dental team and patients of a ‘nasty virus’ having devastating effects in Wuhan, China.

Despite my reservations initially there was an attitude that ‘all would be well’, we were safe in the UK and ‘well prepared’ to deal with any threat a pandemic may pose. A position in hindsight, that now looks decidedly optimistic at best and myopic at worst. As a profession where daily, regular hand-washing is the norm, personal protective equipment is standard and our cross-infection control procedures are endless,  surely the normal equipment and protocols which protected us daily would protect us now? But suddenly even this wasn’t enough, there was absolutely nothing ‘normal’ about the Coronavirus and its effects.

As the cases quickly began to rise, guidelines for dentistry were no sooner released before they were deemed defunct and usurped by another document for our process. Endless hours on SOPs became essential and zoom team meetings became the norm. As a profession we united and #DOWNDRILLS became a trending approach. Suddenly our ‘bread and butter dentistry’ was unsafe. We found ourselves at home, perhaps triaging remotely, awaiting information on re-deployment or being thrown into the deep-end of quickly established Nightingale hospitals or UDC’s. It has been incredible to see the dental team communities banding together to support each other.

As a young dentist, seeing the ‘shining stars’ in the field offering free webinars and live CPD it has been a fantastic, albeit unique learning opportunity. In these unprecedented times I began to realise just how important the small aspects and interactions of our daily dental lives were. Take for instance our communication; the daily face-to-face contact is crucial to our understanding and diagnosis of every patient’s dental issue. Without this the simple nuances of each conversation are lost. As a foundation dentist, telephone triaging has been an invaluable learning tool, every emergency or pain patient was a puzzle to solve without my usual armamentarium of radiographs and special tests. I think this has definitely been a positive development in my own diagnostic and analytical skills.

As dental teams we are banding together to devise the ‘new normal’ for seeing our patients, Zoom calls have become essential for distributing, analysing and discussing the many documents and evidence needed to devise a safe return to clinical dentistry. As we navigate the return to dentistry, it will be a vast learning curve, I’m sure we will adapt and strive to provide the best evidence-based care for our patients.

Although we may miss our usual social interactions, the dental field is evolving, technology and media is creeping into our practices and we may now be ready to embrace it! You could say we are more in touch than ever! Over lockdown we have slowed down, built resilience, adapted to our enforced circumstances  and discovered what matters most."

To learn more about our Dental Ambassadors and their mission, visit here.

 


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