Blog: Life as a 4th year dental student

Dentistry female student with mask stands behind dentist chair
Raina Palit
BDS Dental Surgery
"Needless to say, this past year has been a whirlwind for us all. So much has changed, from lecture teaching and clinical experience to day-to-day activities with other people. Fortunately, dentistry, being such a hands-on profession, provided an opportunity for us all to still have some face to face teaching in 4th year, which I was extremely grateful for."
Dentistry female student with mask stands behind dentist chair

September to December 2020 saw the return of weekly intermediate restorative skills which should have been completed at the end of third year, but we all quickly caught up on this. This led straight into advanced clinical skills which finished this January. All lectures have been online this year and whilst it’s been difficult for others, I personally found this to be a welcome change to a more flexible schedule. It’s been incredible to see all the staff and students adapt to the pandemic and learning and teaching in a new way, which will have made us all more resilient coming out of it.

Usually, this would be the year we all really started to feel more confident and more like ‘proper’ dentists, but this has definitely been delayed to some degree. However, I’ve found outreach incredibly helpful for getting back some of this lost experience. Outreach is a 6-week placement at a dental practice outside of the dental school in 4th and 5th year. Usually we would have many more weeks of this under normal circumstances but getting any amount of placement is very much appreciated right now. I have definitely found this to be one of my favourite parts of dental school so far, as I’ve got to learn how an actual dental practice runs. It’s definitely a huge step up from seeing 1-2 patients in an afternoon at Charles Clifford to 4-5 on outreach!

Of course, with all this free time over the past year, I wanted to find a way to keep busy so I stepped out of my comfort zone to start my dental Instagram and YouTube channel ‘RainaOnTheCusp’. This is something I wanted to start for a while, but lockdown was the push I needed. Social media can be a difficult field to navigate as we all know and it should always be carefully used, but personally I’ve had so many amazing opportunities to connect with other dental students and dentists using it. My content and videos are largely based around helping dental applicants and documenting my own journey through dental school to show what we actually get up to. It’s been very rewarding to be able to give back to this community of applicants and also learn from the work of other dentists online. If anyone else is debating starting an online ‘dental student presence’, then my biggest tip would be to figure out your ‘why’ first and always be clear on rules and guidelines, especially confidentiality!

In terms of the future, it’s been a comforting feeling seeing shops and businesses open back up, providing the much-needed work-life balance in dentistry. I look forward to a more ‘normal’ looking 5th year (hopefully) but regardless, we’ve all done a great job at getting used to this ‘new normal’.

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