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Elective Competition Winner 2017

By Conor McCloskey

Elective Competition Winner 2017

Meet Conor McCloskey a dental student and one of the winners of our Wesleyan Elective Competition 2017.

Off we go...


So the time had finally arrived and with our passports at the ready, we boarded our flight at Edinburgh airport, marking the start of our long journey to Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

I'm not going to lie, the thought of travelling for 24 hours didn't sound pleasant but the excitement of starting our elective after all of the planning made it a lot more bearable.

So three flights later and we landed in Phnom Penh and after collecting our ridiculously overpacked rucksacks, we made our way to the charity's accommodation.

The heat and humidity was instantly noticeable and despite being told that it wasn't the "hot season", it was plenty hot for us.

We were shown our dorm rooms where I happened to bump into a couple of people I knew from Sheffield University who were also doing their elective there.  The term "small world" never felt more appropriate.

After a quick trip out to the central market (and avoiding being hit by countless motor bikes and tuk tuks), we had our induction and found out where would be working for the next two weeks.

We were excited to find out that we would be travelling to a province 4 hours from the capital city and working in a school providing dental services in a remote area. It was exciting to think that in less than 24 hours we would be practicing dentistry and helping those who needed it most.

So the following morning, we were on our way to the province, taking the bus on what I can only describe as an incredibly bumpy road. The locals liked to joke that we were receiving a "massage from the roads" but it wasn't a massage I'd be happy to pay for.

After being shown our accommodation which featured a lizard per room, we scrubbed up and made our way to the local school. A team of Cambodian dental nurses, a Cambodian dentist and ourselves set up the room to make it ready for patients and it didn't take long to realise just how basic all of the dental equipment was.

There were no dental chairs, no proper operating lights and no suction available and decontamination was a very different process to what we're used to here in the UK.

I think we were all feeling slightly anxious about starting but we were feeling ready to go and knew that it would be a unique experience. Patients started queuing outside of the school, each receiving a quick assessment from the Cambodian dentist before they came to us for their treatment.

With only a few fans to provide relief from the humidity, we put on our masks and gloves and got ready to begin.

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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