The kind-hearted, family atmosphere of this small community is such a supportive environment to learn and grow in, both personally and professionally. Our clinics have been intense and wonderfully focused. One thing I am struggling with is the discovery that the dentists in the local hospital do not have the resources they need; their hands are tied because they are unable to perform the skills at which they have been trained. There is no budget for filling materials so many of my patients are left with parts of their tooth missing after a dental cavity has been removed which can lead to future problems. It is difficult to know that doing your best with what you have got is sometimes not enough.
Collaborating with Ada, Krista and Sam and community members has quickly developed into a smoothly running solid team. Each of my patients has left a unique impact on me as we have bonded over working together to overcome what I had considered barriers. My patients have shown me that a common language is not a necessity to discover oral health beliefs and concerns, nor is basic clinic equipment such as swivel chairs, light for seeing in the mouth or saliva suction necessary to provide compassionate dental hygiene care at the quality I have learned at Camosun. The calm, positive energy my patients radiate has permeated into my practice and given me a perspective I feel I needed to be able to reach the next phase of my learning. I am starting to value the importance of creating a sense of serenity as I work, as I am finding that any hint of rush or pressure is so transparent to my patients. Being calmer not only helps my patients feel more at ease, but allows me to be more effective with my technical and critical thinking skills so I can provide quality care. Has all this really happened in just a week? It feels more like a half a term’s worth of learning! I am inspired to apply what I have learned this first week into the rest of my time here, and to eventually be able to carry it on into practicing dental hygiene at home.