COVID-19 diaries with Maariya Bani & Renée Sahni: The 'New' Normal

My first joint contribution for a COVID-19 diary, fourth year dental students Maariya Bani & Renée Sahni discuss what the new normal is looking like for them...

 Online teaching, open book exams and webinars, bet none of us thought that this would happen back in September? Fast forward and now its mid July, and we can’t help but think how quickly time went from March to the Summer. Whether you learnt a new skill, refined old ones you finally had time to relearn, kept in contact with friends and family or maybe did nothing at all, we hope after reading our blog you feel a sense of unity with your fellow student colleagues as we truly are all in the same boat. 

The start of lock down ended up being an annoying, repeated cycle; watching the news everyday about people attending beaches and parties whilst we all stayed at home, trying to keep up with the endless webinars with the majority being out of my depth and online teaching, which for me, at least, consisted of a black square with my name on saying “thank you” at the end. It took me two solid months for me to finally ask myself; “What do I want out of dentistry?” and for the first time since being in Manchester I had an honest conversation with myself. I have always thought of myself one-day transitioning to the image of an “ideal dentist” I had pictured in my head – professional, communicates well, and knows everything. I then realised that I do not need to fix my personality into a box nor should I change myself. My communication and knowledge will grow over time, and I cannot expect myself to be on the level of a fancy high-end dentist on Instagram because it takes time! 

For those that needed to hear that, I hope it sunk in. (Renée Sahni)

So many months into COVID-induced lock down and the phrase “new normal” is being thrown around on the news and in everyday conversations, but what does this mean for the dental profession and for dental students? 

It seems that the upcoming academic year is largely based on online teaching mixed with clinical skills practice on phantom heads. For myself and my course mates the sudden shutdown of the undergraduate clinic was a shock and felt like it came at a time when many of us were getting used to juggling patients and starting more complex procedures. Its been months since I have even held a dental probe and it seems to be months until I can do so. This lack of clinical time will have an effect not just on our class timetables but also on our future as dentists. Its easy to get wrapped up in this and worry how much time we’ve ‘lost’, however its important to remember every dental student in the UK is in the same boat. 

Although watching zoom classes and webinars sometimes makes it feel like we’re miles away from patients and any sort of practical work, its useful to take a step back and use this time to not only brush up on theory but also focus on that elusive ‘work-life balance’ that’s often hard to achieve. The webinars have been inspiring and useful but we cannot be the best dentists we all wish to be if we don’t prioritise our own mental health and well being first! (Maariya Bani)

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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