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By Erika Fernandez

A day in the life of a third-year dental student

3 min
Erika Fernandez

This year has been a big step up in terms of clinical experience. Every year, students at Peninsula Dental School have clinics at different sites across the South-West (including Plymouth, Exeter and Truro).

In my third year, I am studying at the Exeter Dental Education Facility (EDEF), where we see patients for a period of five days every fortnight. We’ve also started seeing patients within a three-hour appointment slot, which has helped with developing better time management and organisation skills in a clinical setting.

So, what does a typical day look like?


I wake up, shower and have breakfast. I’m not much of a morning person, so I usually prepare my breakfast and lunch the night before.


While the sun is still rising, everyone assembles at the university bus stop to be picked up and taken to EDEF.


We arrive, and once signed in, we get masked up and changed into scrubs. I head to my morning session of Simulated Dental Learning Environment (SDLE).


We are currently completing consolidation for crown and bridge preparation in SDLE. I spend this session working on crown preparation for a lower left second molar (LL7 tooth). I make two stents of the tooth and create a temporary crown. I have started adjusting to working with my loupes. We also cover lab communication as part of this session.


I have lunch with my friends in the common room. We chat about the plans we have for our free time and it’s nice to catch up.


I leave lunch slightly early to log onto the computer to see which patients I have for the afternoon. I also debrief with my clinical supervisor on what I plan to do during my two appointments.


I greet my first patient and invite them into the clinic. I spend the first few minutes of every appointment asking how the patient is, how their journey into the clinic was and what their week has been like so far. This gives them a chance to settle in and to raise any concerns they may have. After this, I explain the treatment I plan to do in the session.


I discharge my first patient following the end of the appointment. I write up my clinical notes and bring in my next patient.


I treat my second patient and carry out an amalgam restoration. At the end of my appointments, my clinical supervisor checks my notes and we discuss some learning points, specifically around the management of anxious patients. I also learn about alternative methods of treatment to consider for the peri-apical pathology of a tooth.


Home time. The coach picks us up and we start our journey back to Plymouth. I usually watch a movie on the ride home. This time it’s Shutter Island.


Arriving in Plymouth, it’s dark outside. The Christmas lights illuminate the streets, which makes it a relaxing walk home. I have my usual post-clinic cup of tea when I get home.


I cook dinner with my sister and then watch a lecture on inflammatory diseases of the oral mucosa, making notes as I go.


I finish Shutter Island. What a film! I then scroll through TikTok for a while, set my alarm for the next day and go to bed.

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