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Home CB > About to Graduate > Student life > Gaining experience in clinic – it doesn’t come easily

Gaining experience in clinic – it doesn’t come easily

in Student life

Gaining experience in clinic – it doesn’t come easily

Aisha Ahmed is a third year student at Leeds Dental School. She has written this article to share her experience of clinic life, from the very first patient she treated to when things didn't go according to plan.

"As a young dental student I have provided different treatments to my patients and learnt how to adjust to different clinical situations professionally. I appreciate that there is still a lot to learn but I understand that not everything learnt in lectures and books is the same when it comes to the reality of treating patients."

Initial meeting

Dealing with the feeling over being over whelmed, anxious and excited all at once is the toughest job I've been faced with as a dental student. Prior to starting dental school, I'd always wonder what it felt like to call your patients name in the waiting room. Silly I know, but I suppose the enthusiasm and absolute relief that I got into dental school made me crazy while waiting to start in the new term. Being in Leeds Dental School I was assigned my very first patient at the end of Easter break. Even I couldn't quite believe that a first year student would have that much responsibility. I felt so young and my first patient was about four times my age!
The moment leading up to collecting my patient from the waiting room probably has to be the most terrifying ordeal for me (after my dental interview of course). I stood in the door way of the room in over- sized maroon scrubs and yellow file in my hand. At that very moment all eyes are on you, patients wondering if it's their turn to be seen next. I clearly remember my heart racing and I kept telling myself to stay calm and don't forget the patients name! (That task is a lot harder than you think)
I collected my patient and walked with them to my dental unit. Possibly the longest walk of my life, I introduced myself to the patient and started to build a professional first impression.

Far from the first day

Now in my third year, I have passed the feeling of anxiety towards patients and now see them consistently every week. Session to session I am developing and strengthening my professional relationship with them and can progressively see the outcomes of the treatments I give them.
On clinics, I now easily get through restorations for a range of aesthetic, functional and pain relief reasons. An example of a time when my patient had sensitivity of an UR7, recurrent caries causing short sharp pain and the diagnosis of reversible pulpitis. Radiograph shows darkened areas in which indicating its removal and the need for a definitive seal to prevent ingress of further contamination.
It has to be said, without a doubt no tooth is more awkwardly placed than an UR7 (for right handed people out there) the rule of having a hand rest for me went out the window!

A dentist's nightmare

Yes I'd hate to own up to it but I guess we all learn from our mistakes right? I was removing possibly the deepest carious tooth on my patient, UL6. Being cautious of the depth I was reaching, I was constantly relaying my dental nurse to the tutor to come and check if there was sufficient removal of decay. Under constant reassurance I was told to keep going and yes, the inevitable happened. The moment of a pin prick of blood dropped out from the tooth – pulpal exposure (my first and last I hope!) Remaining calm I strongly told my nurse to get the tutor. As a team we safely and quickly dressed the tooth in ledermix and placed a temporary resin-modified glass-Ionomer cement seal on top, and reviewed in few weeks). Thankfully there was no need to proceed to root canal treatment, placing a definitive restoration was more than sufficient.
There are many different clinical scenarios I have been placed in, all in which are dealt with differently depending on my patients' personality and the situation. Every session I have with patients I thoroughly enjoy and my journey of a dental student in Leeds is on-going with now undertaking RCT on my patients. So far I have been introduced to many new treatments such as bridges, dentures and extractions. I have learnt a lot since my first year and look forward to continuing on my dental career.

Aisha Ahmed


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