Guest Blog Post with Daisy Ridsdill Smith: DFT Reflections

It's been a while since I've a guest blog feature on A Tooth Germ, but I am so pleased to publish Daisy's insightful reflections of her experience of Dental Foundation Training so far...

Daisy, a DFT based in Suffolk

I am currently 8 months into my foundation year. I moved back to my hometown in Suffolk. Funnily enough I have ended up in the practice where I did my work experience when I was 16 years old. From being a shy shadower in the corner of the room to being the dentist who is responsible for helping people make decisions. It’s a full circle that does help me recognise how far we go as dental professionals through our training at university.

It has been very gratifying to have noticed the improvement in my confidence, clinical skills and communication during these last 8 months. In September I felt shy giving OHE and muddled up the dates on toothpaste prescriptions. Last week I caught myself singing song lyrics from ‘Moana’ to a 6-year-old crying in the chair and successfully getting them through the visit. I genuinely look forward to going to work every week and the dental team I work with are so kind and supportive making it even more enjoyable.

Dentistry comes with challenges, which I feel is exacerbated by the problems faced with NHS dentistry. Where I am working is often described as a dental desert. The books are very full and sometimes it can feel like you are firefighting – which can feel stressful at times. Especially since the transition from dental student to FD is also a learning curve. Initially I would often doubt my decisions and even now 8 months in I need to ask for advice and opinions from my supervisors. Some days can be exhausting (mentally & emotionally). You can take on patient’s problems home with yourself. I often catch myself over-thinking a situation in a day – for which reaching out to fellow DFTs, colleagues, friends and family for life advice has been invaluable. I have found it very helpful to remind myself at the end of the week that 1) you will have helped so many people (even if it doesn’t feel like it!) and 2) everyday we are learning and improving that tiny bit more.

My advice to anyone about to undertake DFT

1. Ask for advice, - both from supervisors and colleagues! 

As well as taking feedback onboard. This year is meant for developing you as a clinician so embrace it. I recently gained some tips from another FD working in community for managing nervous children: for example, giving the handheld mirror to the patient for them to hold so they can see what you are doing and have more control.

2) Giving oral hygiene advice is great! 

The BSPD recommend 3 minutes of giving OHE every visit for children. If this is a patients only access to the dentist, they may pick something up? Those 3 minutes can easily be slotted while you’re waiting for x-rays to develop or while the surgery is being prepared for the next patient. I like to think of Tesco’s slogan ‘Every Little Helps’ and that they then leave the dentist and share what they have learnt with their friends and it can help educate the community in a domino effect.

3) Be open and honest with your patients. 

When mistakes happen, stay calm and communicate appropriately with the patient and the dental team. I once started to remove the wrong amalgam restoration at the end of the busy day. I kept my cool and told the patient there and then. I was on the verge of crying when I got home that day but was proud of myself for managing the situation professionally. I thought about ways to mitigate this risk and now make sure me and my nurse verbally identify which tooth we are working on before we start a procedure.

4) Enjoy the year 

We are in such a privileged position as dentists. We really do have the power to directly improve someone’s quality of life. Two of my favourite things are getting a patient out of pain or giving someone their front teeth back.

Thanks so much Daisy for those tips and for sharing your experiences! If you'd like to feature on my blog, drop me a message via the contacts tab!

What's your experiences of DFT? What advice would you give? Please leave them in the comments below.

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