The first intake of dental therapy students to be able to undertake their degrees in the Western Isles recently started their training in the Western Isles Dental Centre in Stornoway.
One of the aims of Western Isles Dental Centre, when the plans were first being developed, was to work in partnership with NHS Education for Scotland (NES) in collaboration with colleges and universities, to ensure that the centre could offer attractive state of the art training facilities for students.
The centre has already been used to accommodate various dental and dental therapy students on placements, but is now also being used for the first time to accommodate students undertaking their entire course in the Western Isles. This will help sustain improved dental facilities on the islands by attracting promising dental students to the facility, year on year.
Two first year dental therapy students, Anne Macaulay and Joanne Macdonald, are the first students to be able to undertake their course, in its entirety, in the Western Isles. They started their course at the end of August and will graduate in the Western Isles in three years.
The first year students join two second year dental therapy students currently on placement in the Western Isles Dental Centre and two final year dental students who are on an outreach programme from Aberdeen Dental School. The second year dental therapy students and final year dental students are also all offering treatment to local patients.
The first year students, Anne Macaulay and Joanne Macdonald, commented: “We started at the end of August. It’s hard work and there’s a lot of study involved, but it made a huge difference to us being able to do the course locally. It’s a three year course and we are able to complete the three years here, which was an important factor in attracting us to the course. We only started a few weeks ago, but we’ve used the facilities such as the phantom heads in the new Dental Centre and they’re really good to train on.”
They added: “An added benefit of training here is that there are only two of us and two tutors, so we get one-to-one instruction, which is excellent.”
The second year dental therapy students, who were previously based in Inverness, started their course last August as first years, and commenced their placements in the Western Isles in January 2011.
The second years, Laura Mauchan from Clydebank and Rebecca Young from Ullapool, said: “The facilities here are very similar to what is provided in Inverness, but it’s a lot newer here. Because there are only two of us here, we also get exposure to a lot more variety than we would elsewhere, which is great experience for us. We elected to come to Stornoway for our placement as the accommodation is so good here. The mentors are also very good so we’re very lucky.”
Laura and Rebecca will graduate in June 2013, and will complete the remainder of their course in the Western Isles.
NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson said: “This is another very positive step towards realising the full potential of our state of the art Dental Centre. It is very heartening to hear the positive feedback from the students.”