Posted on 4th November 2020
WA Dental CPD courses are known for being highly organised, and much of that success comes down to the meticulous organisation of the Supervisor Dental Clinic Assistants at Optech, Christine Ludgwick and Janice Matthews.
The arrangement of a CPD course begins with the presenter being arranged with CPD director, Dr Jenny Ball, usually a year or more prior to the set course date.
Jenny says there are several ways she chooses CPD presenters. “I look through the other State branches and dental schools and see who is presenting and on what,” she says. “In many cases, especially with hands-on courses, I literally replicate the course here in Perth, flying the presenter in. I also attend Congress and get to hear some speakers.”
In addition, Jenny says she asks ADAWA members to let her know if they have attended some good courses, and she keeps an eye on dental events in South East Asia to see if the same names pop up.
“Locally, we also have some very good speakers, and sometimes I approach them with an idea and ask them to come up with something,” she adds.
Once the presenter has been confirmed, Jenny asks for a comprehensive equipment list of everything the presenter will need to conduct the course, and this equipment list gets sent to Optech for Christine and Janice to go through and check what they have and what needs sourcing.
“We often have to order in Frasaco teeth, mixing materials, burs and anything specialised,” Christine explains. “We also make the endo models with natural teeth and that is a long process because we have to choose the tooth, x–ray the tooth, and ask Jenny or an endodontist whether the tooth is suitable. We also have to bleach the tooth for two hours and then soak it in Formalin for two weeks prior. The teeth are donated, so we are always trying to get more teeth.”
Simply sourcing teeth can be a lengthy process, according to Jenny. “There is one course that for 20 or 25 people we need 50 of one particular tooth (26),” she explains. “We run that course every year, so we are always looking for teeth for that course.”
When it comes to setting up Optech, Christine and Janice need to know how many participants will be attending so they can set up to the maximum of the 57 simulators (or phantom heads), as well as the instruments required. However, most hands–on courses have a limit of 20 participants, so that they can benefit from the hands–on interaction of the presenter.
Optech is often occupied until at least a 4pm on a Friday with student sessions, so Christine or Janice need to be very organised to set up the area quickly for an 8.30am start on a Saturday morning.
For most courses, the process is a well-oiled machine.
“Some of the courses we have been doing for three or four years, so we usually know exactly what we need,” Janice says. “When we do a new course, we cannot anticipate things as much as we would like, but if there is anything the presenter needs that they have not asked for, we usually have a similar substitute in Optech.”
In addition to ensuring the attendees have everything required for the course, the DCAs have numerous duties and responsibilities to assist with the smooth-running of the CPD courses, including: obtaining access to all doors a week prior, organising linen/gowns, phoning security to turn off alarms, setting up tea and coffee provided by ADAWA in Room 202 (as no food or drinks are allowed in Optech), helping the presenter to set up AV, setting up all instruments and models in the simulators, checking the high–speed hand pieces to ensure that water is running through, assisting with the simulators and troubleshooting if these are not working, assisting with catering, and taking note of any materials used from Optech stock (including burs, impression materials and extra Frasaco teeth).
And they clearly think on their feet even when things do not go as planned.
“Once we were sent the wrong stainless-steel crowns; we were sent the left side instead of the right side,” Jenny recalls. “One time the caterer failed to attend because they got the date mixed up, so I had to run down the road and buy morning tea for everyone. There was also a time that the building’s security card access failed so we had to find another way to open the glass doors near the lift. Luckily, Poh Hun is tall.”
After the course has finished, decontaminating Optec is a long process, with everything needing to be packed away and wiped down. Since COVID restrictions, Optec has also been double cleaned with Viraclean after each course.
“I think attendees understand it takes a lot of time to set up because it is very similar to the instrument set–up at their own clinics,” Christine says.
Janice adds the attendees are usually impressed with the facilities. “They will often come and comment about the large screens so everyone can see easily and the monitors,” she says. “I think they are usually quite impressed, especially those attendees that have not been here or trained here.”
Likewise, the presenters are also wowed. “Some presenters say they want to come back to Perth because they really like the layout of Optech,” Jenny says. “They also really like working with Christine and Janice because they know if they come here for a course, it is going to run smoothly. Dr Clarence Tam said she does not want to do her course To Prep or Not to Prep anywhere but here.”
When asked what makes a successful course, Christine says communication is key, as well as careful preparation.
“Being flexible and being helpful is also important,” Janice adds. “If an attendee or presenter has not been here before and has not been a student here, they might not know how things work, so we will tell them that at any time during the day they can ask us.”
“It is a challenge that I enjoy,” Christine says. “We also get to see past students and catch up with them, which is nice.”
“You might not have seen one of the students for 10 years and then they come back and they have got married and had children and it is nice to see them grow as a person,” Janice adds. “It is very rewarding.”