We have all had the clinic where your patient has cancelled last minute and you end up assisting your friend. Part of you is annoyed, you wanted to do the treatment and progress through the treatment plan, but a part of you is ever so slightly relieved. You assist a friend by nursing and running back and forth to the dispensary. Whilst you are assisting you may make a few suggestions that maybe they should do this, try this instrument or if they angle the high speed this way it might be better. At the end of the session the tutor dismisses you with 'good nursing make sure you have a patient next week' and then praises your friend for working hard today. You are pleased for your friend, they did work hard and ultimately they were the one doing the treatment but is this fair? Can you work in a team and for yourself? Where was your credit?
We all work in a dental team all day long. As students we may not always work with the same team or have the opportunity to work with the whole dental team but there is always a certain component of team working involved every time we treat patients on clinic.
Can we rely on others to get their work completed? Ever handed something into the lab and it has not been ready for your next appointment (despite you allowing enough time) these are the team working issues that we deal with on a daily basis.
In Leeds we are often graded on our performance on clinic. Ultimately we are all in competition with each other. We always ask what each other what everyone got in their assignments and exams. Eventually we will all be competing with each other for places in VT. Are all dental students in competition with each other? How can we get noticed by our tutors as hard workers and respectable students whilst still working well as a team? I can only speak from my experience at Leeds; my tutor group are quite close and we hate to see each other struggle. We still help each other out and pass on the tricks that the older years have shared with us. We are all in competition with each other but this is designed to make us push ourselves and set ourselves higher goals.
I believe that you can work for yourself in a team environment. It is a struggle and something as dental students we continually have to adapt to. A balance is crucial you want to be liked and be perceived as professional by both your patient and your dental colleagues. It takes someone special to make themselves stand out within a group and that is what we must strive for. If you work well within a team and your team is working to its full potential then you are only progressing.
You can read more about team working on the BDA website.
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