I decided to go on this program because I felt like it was hard to get hands-on experience in the dental field. I chose to be in London for personal reasons, but I am glad it was where I ended up going. Although the practice I was at was pretty far outside the city, the commute didn’t bother me because what I actually got to do there was so amazing. The practice was all under the National Health Service (NHS) so it was very interesting to compare their health system to ours, especially in a lower-income neighborhood.
Chadwell Heath was a large and busy practice that mainly focused on sedation dentistry. For the first month I mainly shadowed, worked the front desk, and sterilized equipment, but as I got more familiar with the practice, I started to gain more responsibilities. On Wednesdays I ended up working with a hygienist, and she taught me how to clean teeth and assist. By the end of the time there, we were working more as a team. On Fridays the practice only saw children. Since it was a sedation practice, the children were all very afraid of the dentist, so it was very informative and interesting to watch the doctors handle and comfort the children that came in. My main responsibilities on Fridays were to work in the recovery room with the children. I took their vitals before they went into the procedure, and then I cared for them once it was over. It was all very hands-on.
Another great thing about this practice is that a few of the dentists were professors at dental schools, so they were always very encouraging towards me. They taught me so much, and one of the dentists, Dr. Vish Anand, was possibly the most interesting and helpful man I had ever met. The experience of working at this practice changed my perspective and eventual plans for dentistry. After I came home, I was more interested in Public Health and community dentistry. I realized that oral health is often overlooked when it comes to public health. I started working with my University’s Health System to raise awareness, and I wouldn’t have ever thought about it or cared as much as I do if it wasn’t for this internship. I also decided that I want to become a Pediatric Dentist. After watching the doctors work with the kids at Chadwell Heath, it inspired me to want to do the same. My favorite workday was always Fridays, because I got to work with the children that came into the practice.
It was honestly life-changing for me and so different from anything else I could have found here in the US.
Marissa Erickson, University of Rochester Class of 2017 (London, fall 2015)