When asked to write about my experience of lockdown, I didn't initially think I had much to contribute. The increased time and slower pace of life is something I have never experienced before. What to write about putting my feet up in the sun?
But seriously... ceasing routine dental care in the UK disrupted lives, not least those of our patients. As dental students, lockdown has provided some unique challenges. Personal loss for some, combined with a loss of routine, reduced social contact and disruption of income from student jobs. All make for an uncomfortable interruption to the highly structured timetable to which we have all become accustomed. Concerns for patients in long term temporisation, and an eye-opening insight into the position of oral health within the wider healthcare landscape, has provided concern for students across the UK.
However, I am aware that, out of adversity comes opportunity and as lockdown eases, so our attention turns to what the future holds although, understandably, that is still somewhat uncertain.
The further integration of digital technology into healthcare has taken a leap forward and, when applied appropriately, I believe is of benefit to both the patient and the clinician. COVID-19 has stressed to the public the importance of scientific evidence underpinning decision making and policy. Thus, excitingly, evidence-based healthcare is at the forefront of the public's awareness. The pandemic has cemented the importance of PPE in the public's minds and, as routine is restored, I am certain patients will have an improved appreciation of the high levels of cross infection control we are all trained in.
For myself, lockdown has coincided with closure of my time as Chair of the BSP Undergraduate Group and culminated in the first fully digital election. This election has seen committee positions hotly contested by BSP representatives across the UK and I would like to thank my committee for all their efforts to firmly establish this group over the past 12 months. I am extremely proud of what we have achieved as a group and look forward to seeing the group continue to grow, further strengthening ties between future generations of both dental and hygiene/therapy students. As a group that mainly collaborates digitally, by nature of the physical distance that separates us, lockdown has provided little disruption to our normal routine. We provide a platform for peer to peer learning opportunities for all students through our 'By Students, For Students' webinar series and look forward to our upcoming webinars from students.
My highlight, as Chair, was receiving an invitation to contribute to the BSP Implementation of the S-3 European Treatment Guidelines for Periodontal Disease, Stages I-III. This series of meetings took place during lockdown and were held via Zoom.
The other digital project I have been working on during lockdown is in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Texas, supported by Oral-B, to create an e-learning module for dental students in America, teaching the 2017 New Classification for periodontal diseases and conditions. This had a particular focus on the use of animation to demonstrate the full periodontal examination process in a very visual way! I couldn't possibly have given as much time to this project, alongside my full-time studies if we hadn’t been on lockdown. It has been a fantastic opportunity to further develop my storyboarding, scriptwriting and artistic skills in a new direction!
Dominic Clark - Roberton
5th Year Dental Student
The University of Bristol