A PILOT scheme has begun seeing dental students head north to gain experience in Shetland as part of their training.
On Monday (4 October) two final year students from Aberdeen arrived at the Montfield dental clinic in Lerwick.
Ayesha Ahmad and Kelvin Onyinah provided treatment for 40 patients in just four days.
Four the next month two different students a week will travel to Shetland to gain further experience.
The pilot has been engineered by NHS Shetland’s director of dentistry Antony Visocchi, who also holds a clinical lecturer role at the Institute of Dentistry in Aberdeen.
It was devised because due to the effects of the pandemic, there was a concern that dentistry students in Aberdeen due to graduate in December would not be able to fulfil all of their training requirements.
NHS Shetland said over the last 18 months students have all had to repeat the year to ensure they get the required experience before graduation.
As part of undergraduate training dental students must carry out placements at “outreach centres” away from their dental school, which for Aberdeen students is usually done in Elgin and Stornoway.
But the new set-up is allowing Aberdeen students to gain vital experience in Shetland.
Visocchi said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity and I must thank the team for all their support in setting up this scheme and the energy they had towards it.
“They were so enthusiastic with the students when they arrived and it’s been great to watch. I’d also like to thank the patients who have been very understanding and provided the students with such encouraging and positive feedback.
“The patients were all very grateful for the high quality of care they received. This is a great endorsement of the standard of service we deliver here in Shetland.
“I hope to make this a permanent arrangement in the future so we may be able to welcome students from Aberdeen each year.”
Student Ayesha Ahmad said: “I have really enjoyed my time here and it would have been great if we could have stayed longer.”
Kelvin Onyinah added: “The staff have been very supportive and I’m really grateful for the opportunity to have experienced dentistry in Shetland.”
Meanwhile NHS Shetland said Visocchi hinted that he was making “no secret of the fact that we also wanted to attract young dentists to the Island in order to perhaps have them return in the future to take up jobs on the island and improve dental service provision for our community”.
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