Working in the hospital was a really eye opening experience. When we arrived there, we had a tour of the facility and were able to investigate their dental room. At first glance it appears very similar to our facilities back home, but definitely less fancy – more of a “second hand” dental area, but functional nonetheless. Upon inspecting the equipment and supplies more thoroughly, I was very shocked to see that the facility appeared to not have been "cleaned" (from my understanding of the Canadian expectations ) in quite some time. It was challenging to accept that this is the way it is here, and we just have to accept that. Coming from Camosun where it seems like we have an entire semester of learning about infection control and preventing contamination, it was extremely difficult to accept that some things would have to be less than “spic and span” before beginning treatment.
Considering we have had to do the best we can with what we’ve got, there have been some things that are simply unavoidable. This was a theme I had trouble adjusting to, and I constantly worried about touching things I shouldn’t, switched gloves and masks very frequently, and got bogged down and slower because of it. It’s hard breaking these good habits! Not only is it difficult to adjust to working in a new setting, in a new country, where many of your patients do not speak the same language as you, but all of those things combined with having to let go of something we’ve been taught over and over was very tricky for me.
However that being said, I had to look at the greater good. Many of these people have never received dental hygiene treatment, receive it very infrequently, only visit the dentist when they are in pain, and/or have little to no knowledge about the link between dental and overall health. I had to overcome my misgivings about the smaller details and look at the big picture In the end, I asked myself, "what’s more important?" A spotless dental chair, or providing care to the San Pancho locals who are in need and will likely not seek out these services anywhere else? I found my answers.