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Elective Competition Winner 2017

By Conor McCloskey

Elective Competition Winner 2017


The final couple of days of dentistry arrived much more quickly than we anticipated. We were all feeling a lot more confident as each day passed and getting on the bus to go to the prison started to feel relatively normal.

The total number of teeth that we had taken out was rising rapidly and the last day was no exception. We set up our clinic as always, powered up whatever fans we had left and got ready to see the last group of patients.

Much like the week before, we were under a time constraint which meant that we could only address the patient's most immediate problem (usually pain) and we didn't have the time nor the facilities available to help the patient with other dental problems.

This sometimes made it feel like we weren't doing enough but seeing the obvious relief of the patient when they were no longer in pain made it worthwhile.

As the last restoration was placed and the last tooth extracted, we were done and it felt bittersweet. As the chairs emptied, a few of the prisoners came over to us with little hand made tokens of appreciation, in the shape of shrimp.

They were decorated and had obviously taken a long time to make. It was really lovely to get something like this and made us feel like we had done very worthwhile work. I felt really proud of what we had done and any anxiety about going to the prison was long gone.

In the evening, we made our way back to Phnom Penh and had to say goodbye to the Cambodian dental team, part of the charity that had hosted us for the last two weeks. We were presented with certificates for our efforts and thanked the team for having us and for giving us an unforgettable experience.

After completing our 2 weeks of dentistry, we were definitely ready to have a rest and to begin our travels around the rest of Asia. We left Cambodia and moved to Vietnam, moving from the south to the north as part of a large tour group which was led by a Thai tour guide who was incredibly helpful.

The 2 weeks in Vietnam went by very quickly and it rained almost every day. We knew it was rainy season but this was something else and I'm from Northern Ireland, where dry days are few and far between!

Following an exciting two weeks in Vietnam, we moved onto Laos, a country which has yet to experience the same extent of tourism as Vietnam and Thailand. It was a mountainous country and one of the most beautiful places Ive ever been.

After our time in Laos and a quick pass through Thailand, we spent our last couple of days on the incredibly scenic Phi Phi Islands where we soaked up sun on the beach and reflected on one of the best experiences of our lives.

Watch out for more updates from Conor on his elective adventures!

Are you going on an elective?  Head off on your travels safe in the knowledge that we've got you covered for problems such as cancellations for exam re-sit cancellations, HIV needle-stick injuries or unforeseen medical expenses with elective insurance from Wesleyan.

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