In recent years, there has been a growing demand for dental healthcare, which makes better trained dental assistants indispensable during treatment. On 26th August 2018, Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore) held its first ever TIMA* Dental Conference themed “Tempering Hardware with Heartware” in Orchard Hotel. The conference not only discussed and explored topics on dental medicine, but also included a workshop for dental assistants that aimed to enhance their nursing skills and knowledge.
The workshop content included guidelines on dental infection control, reception etiquette, and environmental practices at the workplace. It was specially highlighted in the workshop that personal hygiene is an important part of the treatment process, thus it is necessary for dental assistants to put on protective gear, such as masks, gloves, head cover, goggles, etc. Disinfection is the most basic and crucial step during treatment as the mouth is populated with over 600 types of bacteria, and improper handling may cause transmission of the bacteria to others through saliva or blood.
A total of 49 dental assistants participated in the workshop, which covered these four key topics: saliva ejector disinfection, hand disinfection, the use of alcohol-free disinfectant to clean dental equipment, and disinfection of dental tools.
*TIMA: Tzu Chi International Medical Association
Tzu Chi volunteer Neo Chee Yong, who has volunteered in Tzu Chi’s medical aid missions several times, shared, “This workshop teaches us in a very professional manner. We must really follow the right procedure for disinfection. I will be more mindful in disinfection work during future medical aid missions.”
Adjusting one’s mindset in the face of difficulties
TIMA dentist Dr. Chee Chen Sin wrote a skit that depicted common challenges encountered at the front desk of a dental clinic in real life, and the skit was staged by volunteers at the Dental Conference. A lively song was played when the skit started, spurring many attendees to dance with the rhythm.
The skit was about the encounter of four difficult patients by a front desk attendant at a dental clinic. The first patient was the chairman of a corporation who had a flight to catch in the afternoon on the same day. He had developed a toothache suddenly and requested for immediate treatment so as not to miss his flight. The second client was a woman who had already made her dental appointment; the third client was a model who wanted dental aesthetics; and the last one was an elderly person who needed a tooth extraction.
All these four clients insisted on seeing the dentist straight away, but the dentist was in the midst of conducting a surgery. Thus, the receptionist at the counter felt really helpless trying to juggle between pacifying the difficult clients and other duties.
The witty plot sent everyone into laughter as many of them were able to relate themselves with the story portrayed by the skit. Then, Dr. Chee Chen Sin quoted the Jing Si Aphorism: “Always bear the virtues of understanding, tolerance, gratitude, and contentment, and count our blessings". He shared that no matter what difficult position one finds oneself in, one must learn to adjust one’s mindset and let go. Difficult customers are unavoidable, but one will be able to overcome this challenge when one reacts and responds with a positive attitude and empathy.
“Have you thought of spending your time on meaningful work?” Dr. Tan Tian Wang asked in a gentle voice.
Tzu Chi Singapore has been conducting regular medical aid missions overseas for many years, and dentistry is always high on demand during a Tzu Chi free clinic. Without the valuable help and support of dental assistants, the dentists will not be able to perform treatment.
Dr. Tan brought along with him seven dentists, nine dental assistants and three front desk receptionists from his clinic to attend the conference. Wu Yu Bao was one of these dental assistants and she had joined Dr. Tan in a TIMA conference as well as Tzu Chi’s medical aid missions held in the Philippines. She was deeply moved by Tzu Chi's spirit of Great Love.
Wu shared that the reward she got from volunteering in medical relief work was spiritual rather than material. Since many dental personnel in the clinic had volunteered in Tzu Chi’s free clinics, they were apparently more united and more understanding of each other. Wu further revealed that her clinic also practises paper recycling, and the recyclables are sent to a Tzu Chi recycling point each month.
She said that although disinfection is what she does each day at the clinic, she had learned how to perform a more comprehensive disinfection procedure at the workshop. In addition to that, she also learned how to relieve stress at work and not to work for the sake of working, as well as how to handle difficult patients in a relaxed manner and let the patients feel at ease.
Success is achieved through the combined efforts of many
Dentist Dr. Xu Zhi Liang (pictured below) has been an active participant in Tzu Chi’s medical aid missions since 2014, and he was one of the coordinators for the Dental Conference. He noticed that the free clinics organised by Tzu Chi were different from the rest, and commented that a doctor is deemed good and competent as long as he has superb medical skills, however, Tzu Chi places a greater emphasis on humanistic care.
"Tzu Chi's humanistic values remind me of my calling of studying medicine. I feel that my career has become different (after joining Tzu Chi). Not only do I get to help people, I have also found my direction in life,” said Dr. Xu.
He further said that the dental section of a Tzu Chi free clinic relies greatly on the teamwork of both dentists and dental assistants, and good teamwork truly helps to increase efficiency, and thus more patients can be treated during the mission. He also shared that the medical volunteers would feel truly touched and happy whenever they saw gratitude glowing in the eyes of the patients.
After holding the well-received Dental Conference, TIMA Singapore aims to continue paving its path with love and kindness by offering the needy and disadvantaged quality healthcare and serving them with the spirit of Great Love.