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Dental Foundation Training, the light at the end of the tunnel

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Dental Foundation Training, the light at the end of the tunnel

Andrew Wilson reflects on his first days in foundation training dentistry.

My first day of foundation training looked set to be a scorcher. I opened the curtains on 1st August 2011 to find the sun blazing down, set in a perfect blue sky. It was like a scene from a Disney film, with me merrily getting ready as the birds chirped and sang to wish me good luck on my big day. Apart from feeling a few butterflies and a bit more perspiration than usual, I felt great. I dressed in my favourite blue shirt (ironed!) and set off on my brand new bike for work. But I am not Mary Poppins and it didn't take long for things to turn sour. Half a mile from my front door, a rogue cloud targeted me with what can only be described as a monsoon and within a minute I was soaked through.

This cloud followed me on my journey until, blinded by rain, I rode through a deep pot hole and punctured both my tyres. I pushed my bike the last mile and a half, arriving at work late, wet and splattered with mud all the way up the back of my shirt. I greeted my new colleagues with a brave face but it must have been clear I was at least a little flustered. What I needed was a couple of nice easy check ups to get me started. Instead I was given a grossly carious impacted lower wisdom tooth with irreversible pulpitis. I didn't fancy a surgical extraction of a lower 8 on my dentistry foundation training first day so I proceeded to try to access and dress the tooth. It wasn't straight forward, having not used a drill in four months but my trembling hands managed to hold onto the drill long enough to make some sort of hole and plug something in there. One patient down.

Thankfully, the rest of the day passed without incident. I had survived and my dental trainer kindly drove me home to save me pushing my bike another five miles. Things could only get better. And they did. Much better. Dental foundation training is great. It's an absolutely fantastic year where you can be introduced to working life at your own pace, where you learn a heck of a lot that will useful to start your career in dentistry and hopefully make some new friends. There are going to be loads of new challengeswhile training in dentistry.  Some things will come easily and some will not. It'll be frustrating sometimes but you just have to keep going. I went through a stage of not being able to extract teeth. I could bend them, snap them, drill them into a hundred pieces but there is no way that I would be able to get one out. If you had given me a mobile premolar which you could pick out with your fingers, I would have still found a way to fracture it or push it into an unsuspecting antrum; such was my lack of confidence. But practise makes perfect (or at least passable) and these days I'm getting the hang of it.

There is so much to learn. And not just about dentistry topics.. This year I've learnt to bake. I've also learnt to knit and finished my first project, a cardigan, before Christmas. I am hugely grateful to everyone at my dental practice for all their help in making it such a brilliant year. Everyone, from my trainer to the nurses and reception have tolerated me superbly. I have a habit of getting very excited about things and I can make a bit of a song and dance. Although my enthusiasm has been well received on the whole, I can, of course, be a bit tiresome. This was made very clear to me when I walked into reception one day to find the receptionist teaching my new nurse to refer to me as 'Scrotum' (or 'Scrote' for short). It can be hard as a young person in a new job to assert your authority but at least she now refers to me as 'Doctor Scrotum'.

I have loved  attending my dentistry foundation training year, before beginning my career in dentistry and I'm envious of anyone who has it yet to come. Go and enjoy it. Get stuck in and make the most of it because it'll be over before you know it. Just be aware you may have to accept the odd 'affectionate' nickname.

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