Dental students from the University of Portsmouth are working alongside their fellow students from the School of Health and Care Professions within NHS and social care settings to provide care in response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Students currently studying Dental Hygiene, Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy and Dental Nursing are working in healthcare settings, while also continuing with studies as they approach assessments. The roles range from handling emergency appointments, directing NHS 111 patients, working as part of a team to prescribe either temporary filling home kits or antibiotics, working within critical care, volunteering with local hospices and the council.

Leanna Wynne, Associate Head (Education) in the Dental Academy at the University of Portsmouth, said: “Throughout the coronavirus outbreak, our dental care professional (DCP) students are demonstrating their commitment to quality of care of all patients and community residents, in a variety of settings. Their ability to work as part of a team and their drive to improve the lives of those they are in contact with is inspirational.”


Students responding to the call

Leah Harrington

First year BSc (Hons) Dental Hygiene student Leah Harrington is currently volunteering in several roles up to three days a week.  One of these roles is one day a week for a local hospice and another with the local council. Within the hospice, Leah’s  role includes making light breakfasts and tea, coffee and taking lunch orders and delivering lunch to the rooms. Anything needed by the resident is taken by Leah to their rooms. Chatting with residents and family is an important aspect of this role. When volunteering with the local council, Leah has been assisting with food provisions for local residents, whilst also ensuring prescriptions are picked up from the pharmacy and delivered to residents.  
Leah said: “I have met some really lovely people and everyone has been so lovely. All the patients and staff are so grateful for the help and I really enjoy helping everyone there, I am going to continue volunteering after the crisis is over.”

Gemma Savage

Gemma Savage, second year BSc (Hons) Dental Hygiene student, has been working in a dual private/ NHS practice for three days a week, alongside her current studies. As a team, the practice is triaging emergency appointments, directing NHS patients, prescribing either temporary filling home kits or antibiotics and giving out advice. A Covid risk assessment is carried out on a patient prior to treating, to ensure they are symptom free and in a low risk category.

Gemma Savage

Leah Harrington

Emily Porter

Second year BSc (Hons) Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy student Emily Porter has prior experience (three years) as a theatre nurse and has been able to apply this skill, through Covid 19. 

Emily undertook additional training to enable her to work and support in critical care departments working with high dependency level one and two patients. Working 12 hour shifts, Emily worked as part of a team of doctors and nurses to meet the daily needs of patients including providing pressure support, oxygen provision, providing observation of wellbeing and ensuring medication was provided. Although communication can be challenging and the level of PPE is hot and uncomfortable, Emily was full of praise for the NHS and found the full time staff at the hospital to be truly amazing.

She said: “The people who have helped me through this challenging time the most have been the friends I have made at Dental Academy. I have been so lucky to meet a group of people who are like-minded to myself and all support one another.”