Friday, 22 March 2013

Tariq Drabu Dentist Ten Years Delivering Oral Surgery Courses

This month marks my tenth year delivering hands-on oral surgery teaching sessions to dentists. The reflection on this anniversary was prompted by me having conducted my latest hands-on teaching session at Kingsmill Hospital in Mansfield last week.
In 2001 I was appointed as a hospital practitioner in oral surgery at Manchester Dental Hospital. In this role I used to undertake postgraduate teaching and training of dentists in minor oral surgery. In 2003 I teamed up with fellow tutor Javed Ikram to head up and lead postgraduate teaching and training to a wider audience. Javed and I attended the British Dental Association conference in Manchester in 2003. We watched a session called "Hot Tips" in dentistry where speakers from all over the country were given a 10 minute slot in which to impart some special tips and tricks to their colleagues. Javed and I left that conference feeling that we could also do a short 10 minutes slot in oral surgery giving 10 hot tips to dentist within 10 minutes. At the Glasgow conference in 2004 we managed as two speakers on a 10 minute slots to impart 10 hot tips to practitioners in oral surgery within the allotted time frame. I can remember being nervous and reminding both Javed and myself that we had to stick to time rigidly otherwise we would get thrown off the stage!
Following on from that performance we were invited to lecture to the East Midlands deanery at Mansfield in Kingsmill Hospital. This was back in 2004. This was our first opportunity to provide an all day hands on teaching session to colleagues. I remember being excited and humbled at the prospect of teaching and lecturing to my peers. We have now been invited year-on-year since 2003 to Mansfield to lecture and last week we completed our 10th year at Kingsmill Hospital. The fact that we have been asked back year after year is both an honour and a privilege but also hopefully a testament to our abilities as teachers and trainers in this field. In the last few years we have actually been invited twice per year to lecture and teach at Kingsmill such is the demand for our course.
We have also conducted many hands on courses for the North Western Deanery both to general dental practitioners and also to foundation dentists. At the British Dental Association conference in 2005 we were invited to give a lecture in oral surgery. I remember being quite worried because we had drawn the first slot on the Saturday morning which was the morning after the Friday night party. We were absolutely astounded when the hall filled up rapidly and in fact delegates were turned away because the lecture hall was full. At the British Dental Association conference in 2008 we conducted a hands on suturing session which gave dentists the opportunity to practice their suturing skills on dummy models. We have always sought to use a variety of teaching in training techniques always remembering that we are lecturing to our colleagues as frontline dentists who see patients on a day-to-day basis in primary care rather than purely as academics.
As a teacher and educator I think that I have over the past decade taught and mentored over 500 dentists in oral surgery at postgraduate level and has lectured and taught on the subject at regional and national meetings. Recently I was re-selected as a tutor on the Faculty of General Practice Certificate in Minor Oral Surgery course at the Royal College of Surgeons of England in London for the second year in a row.
We need to ensure that general dentists are given enough training to allow them to confidently complete minor oral surgery procedures in practice. It is not just completing the cases that is important - it is the ability to assess what they can and cannot manage in terms of treatment that also determines their competence and ability. Knowing ones limitations is an important part of being a caring, competent and reflective practitioner. Many dentists put themselves forward to study implant based hands on courses yet they are not confident in soft and hard tissue management including extractions and surgical removal of roots. There is also a widespread concern about the lack of experience that new graduates are coming out of university with. Instead of graduating as competent dentists they are now graduating as safe beginners. There is a need for much wider basic and fundamental hands-on training in oral surgery to be available to dentists particularly at the most junior levels. At UCLAN where I am the specialist oral surgery lead at the UCLAN dental clinic are looking to develop a series of short five-week modular courses for dentists who are seeking to gain wide experience and becoming more proficient in their skills. What worries me is not only the lack of confidence and experience among newly qualified graduates, but also among even more senior colleagues and also those graduates from outside the UK.
It seems like only yesterday when we first started doing our hands-on lectures. It really is amazing to think that I am now in my 10th year of doing this. I am humbled to have been given this opportunity over the past decade and look forward to teaching and training for many years to come.

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