COVID-19 diaries with Kathryn Eccles: Making the Most of Lock Down

Next in the COVID-19 diaries series is fourth year dental student, Kathryn Eccles....

Kathryn, a fourth year dental student at Newcastle University

My name is Kathryn and I'm a fourth year dental student at Newcastle university. 

My first term of fourth year was slow to get going and I was rapidly falling behind on clinical treatment due to a struggle getting patients. I entered the new year with an action plan for the rest of fourth year: the treatment plans I was going to complete, the competencies I was going to tick off and the new procedures I was going to try. Just when I thought I was about to get back on track, Coronavirus hits and a global pandemic ensues. 

I'm fortunate not to have concerns about job security or money, but I think it's natural to find things to worry about, and for me, halting clinics seemed like the worst thing that could have happened. How will I make up for lost time? Can I still get all my clinical assessments done? Will I even be able to graduate next Summer?

Teaching at Newcastle, like the rest of the country, has moved online and I've spent so much time stressing about the months lost during this period, as I imagine many others have. But worrying doesn't provide much of an answer and certainly doesn't change the course of things. I've had a big shift in my mindset recently, seeing this time as an opportunity rather than a hindrance. Never in my life have I had this much time and probably never will again in the future. 

I've been spending time engaging with the wealth of content being pushed out online, from free webinars, to online notes. Going over clinical topics has really helped to ease the feeling of 'falling behind'. I actually love learning, I just hate being examined, so it's almost a breath of fresh air to be able to learn without any impending pressure. 

Although most days, I do admittedly sit around on my phone or in front of the TV, I also finally have the time to do all those things I said I'd get around to "when I have the time". I've started a sign language course with British Sign. I've been able to explore so much of the countryside surrounding my house. I've tried my hand at new painting techniques. I'm also a serial crafter, so I've used lock down to try the million and one projects I've wanted to start. Quilting, crochet, scrapbooking, ceramics, you name it! I'm also excellent at moving onto things before seeing the previous project through to completion. 

Contrary to what you often see on social media, you don't need to use this time to do something meaningful and productive. Making the most of this time isn't about who's got the most to show from it at the end, but rather having the time to truly do what you enjoy. If learning a language feels like a chore, don't do it. If your daily exercise regime fills you with dread, change it up for something you do enjoy. Just because you haven't mastered something, or even finished it, this doesn't mean it was a waste of time. If you love nothing more than to sit and watch Netflix all day (and don't we all), you don't need to feel guilty about it. 

You are enough as you are. 

Do you want to write a COVID-19 diary? Please get in touch! Whether you're a dental student, foundation dentist, dental core trainee, associate, dental nurse, therapist I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

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