New dentists' biggest professional challenges during COVID-19 | American Dental Association

New dentists' biggest professional challenges during COVID-19

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Dr. Canallatos
The New Dentist News asked new dentists about their biggest professional challenges during COVID-19.

Mel-Anizi Bersaba, D.D.S.: One of the biggest challenges has to be the rise of cancellations, which disrupt patient flow at our clinic. The extra down time waiting for patients or in between patients doesn’t really help make you feel as productive as you could be.

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Dr. Malterud
Jessica Canallatos, D.D.S.: The biggest challenge was not being able to see patients when dentists were considered nonessential. I had so many patients who were in the middle of treatment, and I also make nasoalveolar molding appliances for babies with cleft lip and palate. When babies were born during this time, I was unable to provide this service to them. Many patients were not being able to receive care when they needed it.

Abby Halpern, D.M.D.: At the onset, it was tough to know what this would mean for my long-term career and the profession. Would patients feel comfortable coming to the dentist? And if not, how will I continue to pay off my student loans? Will there be enough personal protective equipment? Is wearing an N95 mask every day for eight to 10 hours sustainable? Having colleagues to commiserate with, troubleshoot amongst, and be reminded of all of the amazing ways we can serve our patients through dentistry have energized me during these challenging times.

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Dr. Patel
Rachel Malterud, D.M.D.: The biggest challenge I have faced while graduating during the pandemic has been the limited access to engaging, quality continuing education programs. It is difficult to recreate the atmosphere of an in-person educational experience over the internet. As a hands-on learner, I have difficulty focusing and retaining information at home in the same capacity that I would in-person. I am looking forward to attending live courses in the future again.

Amrita Patel, D.D.S.: The biggest challenges have been managing team members. There is a major loss of employees in the marketplace, and scheduling has become difficult. As a result, people are working double and triple shifts and we are all covering for each other. But that’s what teamwork is all about.

Jessica Nguyen, D.D.S.: The biggest challenge was definitely the limited patient interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was looking forward to seeing people's faces and giving sincere handshakes. I remember a lobby filled with people and lastly, a smile on someone's face, as they walk out the door. This year definitely made these memories a bit more difficult, but that also provided me with an opportunity to show compassion, kindness, and care in a different way---by how I smile with my eyes, use my voice, and my hand gestures to "show up with my best self each day," creating an enriching experience for my patients.