I just got back from a 9 day painting retreat in beautiful Amed, Bali with Flora Bowley and 16 other artists from all over the world. It was inspiring as I had never really seen myself as an artist. I only started painting on canvas…
Every year we get a request from the Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry, the International Medical University, to allow a group of dental students to visit the clinic as part of their course work.
Prof Toh Chooi Gait, the Dean, was my lecturer in Conservative Dentistry when I was a dental student in University Malaya. She is an inspiring academician. She told me when I met her several years ago, what she wanted to provide for her students so I agreed to be part of their program for their dental students.
Every year IMU would send a group of students … they could be in Year 1 or 2 … and my task would be to introduce to them what it would be like when they finish their course and become dentists managing a private practice … to teach them good dentist-patient skills and good practice management.
This year I was host to six First Year (Semester 2) students.
I always enjoy their visit. It is a chance to have them see what life as a dentist is going to be … and a chance to have them look into their own future.
After the initial introduction, I asked each of them if they actually had chosen to be a dentist and if so why. I got varied responses … some sort of “ended up” in Dentistry as it was either going to be Medicine or Dentistry … one said they chose Dentistry as “it would give me a good life” … another related how her mother had previously only visited ‘bad’ dentists so was moved to provide good care.
I told them that it didn’t really matter why they ended up in Dentistry … but it did matter that they like the job. Their parents had placed a lot of faith (and money) on them so I told them they really needed to think through any obstacles/considerations they had, and if need be, either begin to find joy in their chosen career or be straight with their parents and quit early!!
I pointed out that each patient’s experience had huge repercussions on how they would approach their future dental health … and they’d have influence on their own children’s dental visits too! This meant it was ever so important that they the dentist treat each patient with care and concern … that there was a human being attached to the teeth they treat!
If they as dentists give an unpleasant experience to their patients … well chances are they have not only affected that patient’s outlook on dental care but the next generation too!
The day went by with the students watching treat several patients and see the complex interaction that happens … we treated adults and kids (one was a 7-year old boy who needed a tooth out). They got to see the latest treatment protocol for gum disease with EmunDo photodynamic therapy, fillings and extractions.
They began to understand that the dentist always works closely together with their assistant … how it is so important to work as a Team. It’s like a dance … the assistant’s job is to allow the dentist to do their job! They began to see why part of their training is to take on being an assistant whilst their fellow students take on being the person who treats the patient.
They learnt why it was so important to keep accurate and detailed records … and that it was confidential. They peeked into how we work with the dental technicians and how cases are sent and recorded so the patients get their crowns, bridges and dentures on time.
The students were wonderful to teach … they asked questions and absorbed the whole experience with a lot of enthusiasm.
I enjoyed the time I had with them … they got to see that Dentistry is a very fulfilling career … they got to see that patients, young and old, can actually have a good experience and even enjoy the visit!
I hope that if they had learned just one thing during their visit to the clinic today, that one thing would be …. that a Dentist has the best job in the world!
Hazwan has just finished another stage of his architectural course currently is working in Melbourne, Australia. Like many Malaysian’s abroad he came back to celebrate the Aidil Fitri holidays with his family in Kuala Lumpur. Hazwan’s elder sister in Nur’Aainaa who had done her makeover…