Written by: Dominika Jaslikowska,
Dental Hygiene and Therapy Student
at the University of Sheffield.

The pandemic crisis is changing life as we know it, I would be lying if I said it has not affected me, it is quite the opposite. At the start of the year, just before the lockdown, I thought I was still going to start my Dental Hygiene and Therapy course at university in April. I was really excited to finally start my dream course, I even imaged myself seeing patients and creating beautiful composite restorations!

The beginning of my DHT journey was just around the corner and so was my anxiety; I was asking myself “how am I ever going to do such a hands-on course online?”, “Should I defer until next year?”, “will I be able to understand subjects if it’s all done online?”. Despite my anxieties about the unknown, I enrolled and although it has been an emotional roller-coaster, I have enjoyed the challenge.

What I do to keep sane and motivated?

I have good days and bad days…my motivation fluctuates and there are days when I feel rubbish and do not want to get out of bed; I’ve embraced my feelings and listened to my body.

To keep my mind and body healthy during COVID, I have been doing yoga before bed. It really helps me to calm my mind while thinking about my day and what I have got to do the next day. I would highly recommend it to all dental students as it can also help with posture related problems and help to manage muscular discomfort and pain – something I have experienced working as a dental nurse.

Although at times lockdown life is quite unbearable, I have been able to spend more time with my family and my beloved dog, Bow – I even became a dog groomer! I have also started some new hobbies such as cycling and hiking, I have even had a go at mastering the splits!

Throughout lockdown I’ve had a few assignments and a mock exam to complete: to say the least, I was out of my comfort zone. I’ve been struggling to listen to my own voice when recording presentations and podcasts as part of my university work. However, looking back, it has made me more confident and comfortable; I even recorded a video for Instagram to win some amazing hand scalers…. and I WON!

How do I keep up with my dental studies?

As well as attending daily online lectures, I use a variety of tools to keep me motivated and to help me test my knowledge. The Immersify Education app could not have launched at a better time! I felt as if I would never learn tooth morphology without seeing teeth in a patient’s mouth, but this dental app has made it possible for me. I still need a lot of practice, but I am sure that with the upcoming practical’s like Immersive MCQ that focuses on tooth morphology, and Chartistry to help me practice my charting skills, I will be able to continue learning effectively. The additional support I have experienced from Immersify Education has come from the community they have built for dental students and dental professionals. Their programme means I can connect with other students who are studying the same qualification and get support when required. As an Ambassador, I have been able to connect with like-minded individuals and expand my dental knowledge while being given the opportunity to be involved with online events, competitions, blogs and promote their innovative educational resources.

Additionally, during this lockdown, most of my days have consisted of webinars and CPD courses, as well as lectures; I think I have completed every dentistry webinar that’s out there, which is great as it complements my studies. I’m confident I wouldn’t have gained all of this extra knowledge if it wasn’t for the positive approach by many dental students and professionals to support and share dentistry knowledge online as a result of COVID!

Clear out

I think most of us can relate, clearing physical items from one’s closet should be therapeutic; however, I always look for an excuse not to have a clear out. I admit it; I am massive hoarder and find it is quite hard to part with my personal belongings. It was a huge relive to have support from my sister who was happy to help me clear out some old, unused items. Four bin bags of clothes later, we did it! I am ready for you, Sheffield!!

And just like that, I’m back to work

I must say, going back to work was not as easy as I thought. I’m not a person who gets tired easily, but I was exhausted during my first week back. I think this was due to having to adapt to new ways in which we were operating, and the uncertainty which derives from COVID-19.

During my time off I maintained my routine: I got up early every morning to do lectures and I kept busy during the day – I wonder how different things would have been if I hadn’t stuck to a daily plan.

Even though Being a locum dental nurse has its ups and downs, there are mostly ups for me – I love it. Although I don’t know where I’ll be working next, I enjoy meeting new people and learning from them for future practice; you would be surprised how different they all work! This way I am also able to get the feel of each practice and I believe this will help me in the future with my decision-making process when applying for jobs as a DHT.

Times can be hard with everything that’s going on in the world. I think during this pandemic we have been given time to revaluate, and hopefully, it will offer some positive changes to our lives. Lastly a piece of advice for all dental students out there: Do not be hard on yourself! Keep going and let’s stay positive together!