Over the past eight months, we’ve all had to adapt in some capacity and our lives have evolved due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This is no different in higher education where courses and degree programmes have had to evolve quickly to ensure high quality teaching and learning is still on offer. Below, fourth year Dentistry student, Chow Pang, discusses how Dentistry at Manchester has evolved and looks ahead to what the future may look like for Dentistry students here at Manchester…
Before Covid, I was going into university 3-4 times a week. That included two days of restorative clinics, half a day of lecture and Enquiry Based Learning (EBL), and oral-medicine classes. Outside of classes, I had basketball training and inter-societies basketball tournaments once a week each. I probably hit the gym once or twice a week in addition too. I generally like my week to be fruitful and productive and this is exactly what my lifestyle pre-covid was.
How Covid has changed my learning
When COVID first blew up in the UK, my family were quite worried and insisted on me taking a flight home. I’m an international student from Malaysia so for the peace of mind of my family, I obliged and in hindsight I think I made the right call. During the first lockdown in March, all of my teaching moved online and my placements/clinics were unfortunately cancelled.
Studying from home can have many pros and cons and online education is a double edged sword. I can have my lecture anywhere as long as there is a stable internet connection but at the same time, it is difficult for me to remain switched on for a two hour lecture in a comfortable home setting. I tend to get quite unmotivated and sometimes struggle to stick to my own study plan and schedule.
I feel like there can be too many distractions at home, in my case it has been my bed, my TV, my Nintendo Switch, and basketball. All in all though, I am glad I did move back home when the pandemic hit the UK. It has been a good break for me and I’ve enjoyed spending time with my family.
Changes to course content
As far as I am aware, there has been no changes to the amount of content that we learn theoretically. We are still covering all of the content via zoom lectures and Enquiry Based Learning (EBL) classes. The only difference is that we are not seeing any patients now as the University has prioritised final year students and the restorative clinic is therefore reserved for them. It is a difficult time for everyone because we have to maintain social distancing, wear full PPE (personal protective equipment) and AGP (aerosol generating procedures) are only allowed in rooms with ventilation.
I should be on placement this year with outreach once a week and a paediatric placement once every two weeks, however, everything is cancelled because of Covid. Fortunately, the University have told us that placements should, and hopefully will, resume by January. I am really looking forward to seeing and treating patients again.
I have not planned my future career yet but it is more or less set, I will graduate as a dentist. I will probably work in the UK for a few years before going back home to Asia. I have considered specialty training too.
Future of dentistry
Before lockdown, the University had opened a new building, Coupland 3, where we were having all our of physical lecture classes. I am looking forward to using these new facilities and lecture theatres again once things are back to normal.
Advice to offer holders
My mentor back in sixth form once told me “go big or go home.” Go all in because if not then you’ll never get in as that is how competitive dental courses are nowadays. I would advise offer holders to work to their limits to get the grades they need but at the same time, have a healthy work life balance. All of you have made it through the personal statement, UCAT and interview. Your A-level result will be the final stage that you have to work hard for so good luck!