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Dental school welcomes students’ safe return

Dental students at the University of Plymouth are safely back to their clinical practice thanks to a summer of hard work across the institution.

Working jointly with Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise (PDSE), the University’s Peninsula Dental School has adopted a safety-first approach and is giving students the clinical exposure they need to excel in their future career.

PDSE manages the Dental Education Facilities in Derriford, Devonport, Truro and Exeter where students treat patients under supervision, and has prioritised safety by building pods for them to work in, while providing personal protective equipment to meet the needs of all students.

Since March and throughout lockdown, PDSE staff have provided urgent dental care through an NHS emergency hub with stringent cleaning and hygiene regimes in place. Postgraduate students were returned to face-to-face teaching from July and commenced further treatment of patients. In August, students who had missed assessments came back to complete their work, and in September, all students safely returned.

Professor Christopher Tredwin, Head of Peninsula Dental School, and Ewen McColl, Director of Clinical Dentistry in Peninsula Dental School, were instrumental in producing national guidance for the safe return of Dental and Dental Therapy and Hygiene students across the UK, thanks to working alongside a team in the Association of Dental Hospitals and Dental Schools Council.

Leah Webb, a 5th-year BDS Dental Surgery student, said:

“It is fantastic being back on clinic treating patients. Whilst the clinical simulation sessions refreshed our clinical skills, having the opportunity last week to carry out rotary pre-molar endodontics on a patient really made me feel like I was back on track with my clinical progression. The safety steps the Dental School staff have taken are really reassuring for patients and students alike, and I am really grateful to the whole Clinic team.”

In addition, PDSE has been further developing student facilities and rest areas throughout the pandemic period – creating a large student breakout area; new changing rooms; an accessible shower room; a prayer room and new staff room at its Dental Education Facility in Truro.

Robert Witton, Chief Executive of Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise, said:

“PDSE has made a significant capital investment in our facilities to increase welfare space and return students to clinics as quickly as possible, recognising the need to continue treating patients as best we can despite the social restriction measures in place. We are hopeful students will graduate as scheduled due to the early proactive measures we have taken, and we’re delighted to welcome them back.”

Professor Tredwin added:

“The team spirit and ethos shown by all our staff and students has been outstanding and I am immensely proud of them all. The COVID-19 outbreak presented challenges unlike we have ever seen before and using a step by step approach, with safety being paramount, we have been taking big strides to overcome these and carry on the outstanding education and patient care that we provide.”

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