The continuing spread of Covid-19 has presented many challenges for students and Universities worldwide.
Starting college or returning to classes can be stressful at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic.
While the world continues to battle Covid-19, professionals are monitoring a growing crisis among young adults struggling with mental health problems, including suicidal ideation, anxiety and depression related to the pandemic.
The most common ways that COVID-19 has impacted a student’s life:
According to students that participated in the Active Minds Survey, the most important things for their college committee to be thinking about in the short, and long term, for student mental health during and after the pandemic include:
Increased academic support
Increased investment in counselling
Having empathy, compassion, and communicating an understanding of what the world is experiencing
Applying safety measures to help to keep students and employees healthy and safe
Facing a BIG CHANGE
Students life and college experience might be different in 2021 to previous years due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
However, staff are working hard to ensure that all students can begin and continue their studies without too much further disruption.
Tips for students returning.
Ensure that you know where and how to access the academic supports provided at your college.
Find out what the institution is doing to make things as safe as possible.
Remind yourself that the current situation will not last forever and that any negative feelings should pass.
Re-establish a routine.
No one knows exactly what the future will be like, but it is important to remember that these changes will not be forever.
March 2020 saw the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with this, we all inherited a new way of life. This new life had a profound effect on the dental field.
In this blog post, I want to share my personal experiences of the technological changes I have witnessed as a final year dental student at King’s College London as a result.
Initially, when we went into a nationwide lockdown, the dental curriculum adapted and moved online within a week to Microsoft Teams where clinical sessions turned into case-based discussions centred around diagnoses, literature discussion and treatment planning.
This platform provided a group visual learning environment, with features such as sharing screens, webcam and online whiteboards making it relatively interactive.
As the lockdown eased, students could return to campus for phantom head simulation clinics to keep up our manual dexterity skills.
The clinics I met when I returned were not limited to practicing on plastic teeth but newly purchased enhanced 3D printed carious teeth.
The induction of this technology made caries removal on the simulation clinic incredibly more realistic.
You may also have heard about King’s brand-new haptic suite, a robotic project focusing on students learning practical procedures in virtual reality.
I can confirm the tactile feedback is very realistic, and I think this will be a great introduction to clinics for fresh dental students eager to perfect their manual dexterity, especially in this day and age where due to social distancing and guidelines, clinical time can sometimes be reduced across the board.
I have also seen the recent installation of micromotors that we are operating below 60,000 rpm onto our clinical floors to allow King’s dental students to carry out SGP procedures on open clinics.
This technology operating below 60,000 rpm increases droplet size and eliminates aerosol. I look forward to using this new handpiece whilst continuing to advance my clinical knowledge base this year.
Alongside all these technological changes in clinics, it has become evident how important it is to have online computer systems like Salud that allows you to adapt to the changing environment.
For example, being able to go paperless in a short amount of time or efficiently adding additional information regarding the type of procedure performed like AGP or SGP.
Technology has been fast-changing this year at King’s to keep up with the rapidly changing environment we have all been thrown into.
These advances, in my opinion, have complimented my learning perfectly during this time, and I am looking forward to seeing what will come next.
In the UK, dental schools have been forced to incorporate online teaching into their course.
Whilst this has been difficult for both the programme coordinators and students, it also has its positives.
Due to the ever-changing nature of this pandemic, we are forced to stay adaptable as the timetables are constantly changing.
Lectures are mostly pre-recorded which means students are free to study on their own schedule.
Tutorials are live and after overcoming technical difficulties, they mimic the same face-to-face teaching obtained on campus. Clinics are still on campus but with strict protocols.
Moving to online teaching will most likely lead to a more online-focussed course in the future.
It’s become apparent that face-to-face lectures are not as effective and a waste of resources.
However, more focus should be put on in-person tutorials to cover material effectively as pre-recorded lectures do not present the option to ask questions and provide an all-rounded learning experience.
Clinical exposure is vital as a dental student.
Students in the older years have had to catch up on clinical practise due to its cessation earlier in the year. Because of the setup of most dental teaching clinics, the spread of aerosols is more likely.
A positive outcome has been that there is much more focus on infection control in universities and also practices.
In general, first-year students have had a difficult time integrating into university.
Students living on campus have been faced with the difficulty of isolation in a vital time of their university life.
Living away from home for the first time and having to isolate can have a huge impact on their mental wellbeing. As a biomedicine graduate living at home, it has its own challenges.
However, dental schools are making a conscious effort to provide support.
There has been a huge development in the way dental schools operate. The decision to move online has been monumental and the potential of academic development in the future is vast.
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