Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Goodbye post from Amy V...

I applied to this field school with a desire to strengthen my clinical skills through working with a diverse range of individuals. I also wanted to experience life in another country and take myself out of my comfort zone to.

This experience was so valuable to me because I not only achieved my desired goal, but also made friends, impacted lives, learned some Spanish, enjoyed a beautiful culture and climate, and strengthened friendships with classmates :) This experience will impact my future practice as I feel capable to work on many different types of patients and have learned strategies that I feel confident using to ensure that my patient is treated in a timely manner while still meeting their needs. I feel that my interpersonal skills have also expanded and I can better relate to individuals through non-verbal communication if language may be a barrier. This experience also enabled me to take a moment to remember to breath and relax! By remembering to relax, and take a deep breath every now and then, I will be more approachable to my clients and hopefully help reduce any anxiety as well. I'm sure as I embark on my journey into the private practice world I will continuously find myself reflecting back on experiences I have learned as I am already finding myself reflecting back while working on patients at the Camosun dental clinic again.

I am so grateful and thankful that I was able to be a part of this amazing opportunity and I am confident that my future career and practice will benefit from my experiences gained on this trip :)

Goodbye post from Amy A...

After hearing from the previous field school participants about how rewarding their experience was in San Pancho, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.  I’ve always been interested in volunteering in a different country and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. Although I’d never been away from home for that long, the community of San Pancho was so welcoming and accommodating that it became my ‘home away from home’.

The experience in San Pancho was so rewarding and valuable both personally and professionally. I have learned to adapt well to change because not everything is going to go the way I want it to, particularly in a foreign environment. Being taken away from the use of all of the equipment and supplies in our clinic and not having a dental chair and light allowed me to work with what I had and still finish treatment. One of the more valuable aspects of our appointments was that we really focused on completing treatment for our client in one appointment. Because we were booked solid every day, it was very unlikely that space was available on the limited days remaining whereby  the client can come back for another appointment. This allowed us to use our best judgment and focus on the areas in their mouth that needed the most attention. Knowing that it might be years before the client has another hygiene appointment was hard to grasp, but it inspired me to treat them the best I could in that one appointment.  Not only has this helped me with my time management skills, but it also gave me more confidence that it is possible for me to see a client in 1 hour or so, similar to what it would be like in private practice J.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Goodbye post from Devon...

I applied for the dental hygiene field school because I saw it as a great opportunity to experience dental hygiene in a whole new way. I knew that by the final semester of the program I would feel comfortable in the environment of school clinic and would have a routine for care. I had hoped that transporting that clinical experience to Mexico would force me to rethink the way I provide care and emphasize the importance of dental hygiene in my mind.

I strongly feel that the experience offered me the opportunity that I had hoped for and much more. The field school experience was valuable to me in many ways. My confidence in my knowledge and ability to provide exceptional care and education to clients was really cemented in Mexico because all of the fancy extras of the clinic environment back in Victoria were stripped away leaving myself, my knowledge and the client. The longer days and more difficult client status pushed me to condense my assessments appropriately and focus on concise and effective debridement in order to complete clients and provide valuable education to them during their appointment. While the focus was less on continued care as it was unlikely we would see clients again, the experience emphasized the importance of self care education at each appointment.

I believe that my experience at the dental hygiene field school will impact my future practice by providing me with the confidence I need to enter private practice and approach dental hygiene as a valuable profession.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Goodbye post from Sarah...

I was initially interested in the field school, thanks to a close friend who completed the
Camosun College Dental Hygiene program a few years ago. Once I was accepted into the
program she immediately encouraged me to consider the opportunity. My friend 
recommended that I partake in the field school since it provided her with a new outlook
on the profession of dental hygiene.I also chose to apply for the field school because I've
always wanted to volunteer in another country. Since returning to Canada I too can say that
my perspective of dental hygiene has changed. I believe this experience will shape how I
practice as a dental hygienist and I encourage dental hygiene students and dental hygienists to
take advantage of any volunteer/field school opportunities- they are well worth it.

I will never forget this experience as it has given me a new perspective on the profession of
dental hygiene. I know have a deeper understanding of the complexity of human needs. A
particular memory comes to mind: At the hospital in San Pancho I met a woman who 
suffered from Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis in addition to multiple chronic health conditions.
This client was withdrawn, nervous and in obvious discomfort. She asked if our team would be
able to extract her painful tooth during her dental hygiene visit and appeared disappointed after
learning that we could not perform this treatment for her. After completing the assessment
phase my client requested to have a short break but unfortunately, did not return for further
treatment. Although this was difficult for me, I realized that my client had various unmet human
needs which took priority over dental hygiene care at this assessing all potential unmet needs
and assisting your clients in addressing their most immediate concern first. I am thankful that
my client was able to fully express her concerns and that I was able to give her direction prior
to her unexpected departure.

I think this experience will help focus my practice as a dental hygienist. As previously mentioned
I will continue to assess the 'big picture' and remain aware of all potential unmet human needs.
I will also continue to take the time to listen to my clients and assist them in addressing their
most immediate unmet need first.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Goodbye post from Jaime...

Being back home in Victoria makes San Pancho seem very far away.  After 28 days I was ready to come home but it was also hard to say goodbye.  I will miss the friendly people, the sun, the beaches and the food!  I really felt we were able to become a part of this amazing community during our stay. 

I applied for this field school because I wanted to experience providing dental hygiene in a whole new way.  Mission accomplished!  Having worked in the dental field for the past five years I am familiar with a private practice setting and wanted to experience something totally new.  Here at home our clinic days are preplanned, organized and structured and I appreciate the orderliness of this.  In Mexico plans change last minute, things are less organized and more chaotic.  And yet everything, well almost everything J, still gets done.  I really felt I was able to embrace this.  I have the type of personality where I always like to feel in control and have everything organized.  However, in Mexico I was able to let go of that control or feeling of control and just go with the flow.  I hope I am able to incorporate that same thing into my life here.

Spending 24 hours a day with 7 other girls can be challenging but our group pulled it off with flying colors.  Each one of us showed patience, kindness and acceptance of one another.  It’s not easy for 8 women to get ready to go out for dinner in a timely manner, even in small town Mexico.  How our group really came together to support one another was something that I will always remember and take away from this experience.  Learning how to work as part of a team has a place in both my personal and professional life.  Spending the last 28 days with my fellow classmates has taught me how to do this better.  Thank you for that friends J

Going into the dental hygiene program I had an idea that I wanted to work with people who didn’t have access to regular dental care.  My experience in Mexico has solidified that idea.  By going out into the community we were able to see people who would not otherwise have access to our services.  I hope to have my own mobile clinic one day so I can do that on a regular basis in my own community. Working in both the hospital and the community centre showed me that you don’t need much to still be able to provide comprehensive care to clients.  It was more important provide treatment and oral hygiene education than to have the right chairs or even a suction or ultrasonic. 

I hope to be able to go back to San Pancho one day and work with future field schools.  This was an amazing experience for me.  I feel very lucky to have been able to participate in the 2013 Mexico Field School.  A big thank you to Ada, my classmates and all our volunteers for making this happen!

Goodbye post from Kristy...

I applied for the Mexico Field School experience because I put so much value on the time I have spent abroad. I find travel both an enjoyable and an educational experience.  Additionally, I believe that an understanding of different cultures enables me to be a better, more culturally sensitive dental hygienist.

During clinic hours I was able to integrate my classroom knowledge into my clinical practice. For example, in our winter semester of pharmacology we were given an alternative therapy project. We were instructed to choose a therapy, research it, and present our findings to the class. I found myself wondering how often I would see clients who held these beliefs. Well, during my time at the hospital and at Entre Amigos I had clients who used many of these therapies. One of my clients was so appreciative of the knowledge and background education I had and for this reason I was able to connect with him on a personal level and provide more effective care. I was able to talk to make suggestions that were evidence based while being sensitive of their beliefs. When one of my clients told me I have a “beautiful way of thinking” I couldn't help but appreciate the full and amazing education I have been given at Camosun College.

In order to be successful during clinic time, the entire group had to work as a team. One of my favorite aspects of the Entre Amigo’s clinic is that we set up all of our patient chairs in a circle. This facilitated teamwork and when someone needed an instrument or a break, another student or an instructor was close by to help. I think that this team experience helped prepare me for this aspect of private practice.

I believe that the field school has helped me become a well-rounded and culturally sensitive dental hygienist and I look forward to implementing what I have learned for the rest of my career. I am so thankful of the opportunity I was given to take part in this experience and thankful to the town of San Pancho for hosting us. I can't wait to go back!

The village, the people, the last days...

We thank you, San Pancho!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Post from Devon...

Visiting the schools in San Pancho was a eye opening experience. There was a blend of different oral health statuses, the most noticeable difference was between the public school and Montessori school. Toothbrushing was a part of the classes daily routine at the Montessori school and the receptiveness of the kids reflected that. This is not to say that there weren't kids at the public school that were eager to brush and floss; one child told us through a translator that he was excited to be given a toothbrush because his father threw out his last one. What I took away from the school visits was the growing impact that the years of field school influence was beginning to have on the town. Older kids knew the educational information that we were presenting and were proud to answer questions that were being asked. There were clusters of kids that had significantly lower caries rates among the average child with caries present. I always came away from the school visits with a feeling of satisfaction, knowing that at least one child I saw personally was interested in the oral health education we provided as a group.

Reflecting on our five days of clinic at Entreamigos, I don't have one distinct memorable moment. I see that time as a span of growth personally that built on the initial experiences I had at the hospital clinic. Returning each morning following a previous day of guidance by Ada, Melissa and Heather allowed me to apply the specifics I needed to fine tune in order to be more successful with each client. The condensed paperwork and less frequent checks by instructors forced me to be confident and in charge of the appointment; I was no longer apprehensive to proceed with care. My most significant achievement was the boost in confidence of identifying endpoint on each client. When an instructor was checking my debridement I no longer stood anxiously waiting to be told what I had missed. The other pattern of growth I experienced was the ability to be efficient with each stroke in order to complete clients in a shorter time as we continue to move towards private practice. Coming away from the Entreamigos experience having completed moderate clients in less than 4 hours was incredibly encouraging for the final weeks of the semester.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Thank you and goodbye...

At the end of locally dubbed name, Smile Project...we organized a goodbye dinner and invited those who have helped us greatly during our stay here in San Pancho. Most were able to come and share the beautiful evening with us. The dinner was held where the students had been staying for the month, and we were treated very well. 

At the end of the evening, the students were very gracious and presented the San  Pancho group with thank you cards and  gifts. They also made personal donation to the Entreamigos community center. All unused dental supplies were given to the local hospital dental clinic. 

The four weeks seemed to have flown by and we were left with an experience that was intense, satisfying, rewarding, and humbling. We hope to take what we have learned  here to better ourselves, our patients, our practice, and our community back home.

Post from Sarah...

Visiting the schools was eye-opening. I was impressed with the oral health knowledge of the children thanks to the work of previous field schools. It was also encouraging to witness the children's excitement upon our arrival at the schools where we were greeted with hugs and smiles. Although the children were able to answer oral health questions and were eager to participate in toothbrushing workshops, unfortunately, the presence of dental caries persists. This reinforces the concept that a high level of oral health knowledge is not sufficient in eliminating or preventing oral health disparities.
This experience amplified the role of diet in the caries disease process. The continued presence of Early Childhood Caries and dental caries is likely to be associated with the availability of cariogenicfoods. At the primary school we observed children purchasing various cariogenic snacks, (both traditional and North American foods) from a kiosk on the school ground. In the future, it would be important to target the snacks available to children in the schools in hopes of decreasing the prevalence of dental caries.

Wow- what an amazing experience. Working at Entreamigos was at times very challenging: my ergonomics were compromised and equipment, such as an ultrasonic and suction, were sometimes needed more by other students. Other than the gratefulness of my clients upon completion of dental hygiene therapy, my most memorable experience was on the very last day at Entreamigos. After working primarily with clients exhibiting moderate to severe periodontitis I feel that I have gained a great deal of invaluable clinical experience. On our final clinic day I was assigned a client of lighter classification which allowed me to truly demonstrate my improvements in detection, debridement and time-management. Thanks to this experience I now know that I am capable of being an effective and efficient dental hygienist and I will continue to believe in my abilities

Post from Alison...

We had the opportunity to visit three schools while in San Pancho. This was one of my favorite parts of the experience because they were just so cute! I enjoyed how receptive the children were to learning about oral health and most of them seemed enthusiastic. We did a short presentation to each class about basic oral care with the help of a translator and then completed screenings and applied fluoride for every child. The challenge for me was the language barrier but I always had Tanya, our Spanish speaking classmate, close at hand if I really needed help. I found it devastating how much decay we found during our screening and there was not a lot we could do to help them.

We spent five straight days in Entreamigos and it was exhausting but very rewarding. I enjoyed the challenges of completing clients in one appointment because we did not have additional appointments to book them in. This gave me inspiration to keep going when I was tired. All the clients were so grateful and it made it all worth it. One of my most memorable moments was with a client who had severe staining on his anterior teeth. I showed him with a mirror prior to removing it and then afterwards and I have never seen someone smile so big! He was so pleased and it made me feel good that I had made a positive difference in his life.

Post from Amy A.

During our one-month stay in San Pancho, we spent a number of days giving oral health presentations and providing screenings and fluoride applications to the kindergarten, primary,  and Escuela del Mundo schools. Almost all of the children were very well behaved and seemed eager to listen to our presentation. One of the more challenging things we did was screen the children for cavities. It was heartbreaking seeing how decayed some of their teeth were, especially those that I found on  permanent (adult) teeth. On a positive note, Ada informed us that the number of children with decayed teeth has been consistently decreasing since the first field school arrived, six years ago.

Self care and educating clients on their oral health status was a major factor in our clinical appointments. Having Tanya, a fellow student who was fluent in spanish, and who was able to translate for us was one of the most helpful component to our team. Our clients were very receptive and interested in learning how to prevent periodontal disease. One of my clients at Entreamigos who had just moved to San Pancho from the US told me that she’d never learned so much in an appointment with a dental hygienist. She said she generally goes in for her appointment and leaves confused. She liked that I had explained everything I was doing, even down to the small details like what instrument I’m using or what the ultrasonic does. I think this made me realize how important it is to talk to your client during treatment because they can’t see in their own mouth and aren’t sure what you are doing in there. Education is extremely important in this profession and just because we have the dental background, we can’t assume that everyone else does too.

Post from Kristy...

During the month of the field school we spent many days visiting the various schools in the area. This was a highlight for me as I love working with kids. It was really encouraging as the children seemed to have retained a lot of the information from presentations in previous years. The amount of decay in the children was shocking- not just the number of teeth but the extent as well. It was reassuring to hear from Ada that the rate of decay had decreased significantly since the field school began. What was most encouraging was when we went to the Montessori school and the teachers informed us that the children brushed their teeth every day after lunch. The influence of the field school was evident in all of the schools we visited in San Pancho, which was great to see. 

Entre Amigos is the community centre of San Pancho. It houses a vegan restaurant, a library, computers, a recycling area, and much more. It was also the site of 5 rewarding but challenging days of dental hygiene. It was a great location as I felt like I was a part of the community there. Some challenges we faced were: no air conditioning, no dental chairs (clients sat in lawn chairs and operators used whatever we could find), no running water/sinks, and the occasional scare from the loud smash of mangos hitting the tin ceiling. 

Some of the positives included the experience of working 5 full days in a row, which prepared us for private practice, the positive team dynamic, daily visits from an iguana, and of course all of the amazing clients we saw. My most memorable experience at Entre Amigos was working with a young client who presented with severe gingival disease and an infection in his partially erupted wisdom teeth. In addition he had various health issues and other challenges in his life. It was hard to feel like what we were doing for him was enough. In the end a fellow student reminded me that it is important to focus on what we did do. I will forever be appreciative for that lesson. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Post from Amy V...

Having the opportunity to visit the schools was so rewarding and enjoyable! I will always remember the sincere warm welcomes and many hugs from the children and how their contagious excitement grew on every visit. It was so amazing to share oral health information and screen many different age groups, and our translators were always so enthusiastic.  I have to say that the school visits were definitely one of my favorite parts of this whole experience and I already miss the smiling faces of the children- it was so hard to say goodbye! The opportunity to see a variety of different intraoral findings all in one day was also an experience in and of itself that may not be repeated in Canada to the same degree. 

Working at the community center Entreamigos was a highlight of my experience as well; from the positive environment to supportive staff, it was an amazing team-building experience. One of my favorite parts about being at Entreamigos was that all of our working "units" (aka lawn chairs) were oriented in a big circle so every student was in close proximity making the experience very fun and supportive. If one of us needed a break, or supplies, a classmate was always close by to lend a helping hand. I feel that my clinical skills have grown so much from working at Entreamigos and I have more confidence and I am truly excited for my future in this profession. The support and coaching I received was indispensable and I feel that what I have encountered and conquered while on this study abroad program will influence and enhance my professional practice. I was challenged at times with the language barrier and with debriding some tenacious calculus, but I overcame these challenges with help from Tanya and the translators (it was so amazing to have this support!) and with coaching tips from Ada and Melissa (and always keeping sharp instruments!) I was better able to build my confidence and speed while working on these difficult classification clients. I feel so encouraged and excited to continue growing and improving as a clinician and I am so happy and grateful for all that I

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Last day of clinic...

We found ourselves caught with mixed emotions on our last day of work.  The days were grueling...but very rewarding. We could not see everyone that came to our door, but happy to know that we've made a difference with those that came for our services. We did not want to stop, but we were also looking forward to seeing our friends and family again after 27 days of being away.

While others worked, some of us started to dismantle our clinic.

The lounge chairs aka dental chairs were now ready to be returned to the owners.

Alison putting away our ultrasonic equipment.
The vegan cafe at Entreamigos prepared pizza for everyone.

Still smiling....
Happy campers!

Heather D. from the class of 2007 joined us for all the days at Entreamigos and at the hospital.
Here they all are celebrating a job well done!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Ten plus hour days at Entreamigos makeshift dental hygiene clinic...

Our days were fully scheduled for the next 5 days...but they never went as planned. The students were very good at being flexible. Their spirit and attitude stayed positive in spite of the constant changes. By the second day, we got in our groove and went with the flow.