Clinical Placements Update

Why are we making this decision?

Clinical placements are an integral part of a dental and oral health clinical education and we are thankful for the strong relationship with our many healthcare partners that allow us to offer world-class education to all our students. All of you have been aware that Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) has been following advice from the Department of Health and screening patients over the past weeks to ensure patients at risk of COVID-19 are reappointed to a later date.

Why now?

This week DHSV introduced an added precaution by removing techniques that require aerosol producing procedures. In addition, the number of patients attending the hospital is steadily reducing. Clearly this has implications for how we teach our students in the Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne (RDHM) and the clinical experience our students can gain.

It is imperative that all students have the same opportunities to gain the clinical experiences we offer under our different settings. With the understandable restrictions in RDHM, loss of some community placements, higher than usual level of absence amongst some staff and the several issues above, we feel that we cannot assure such equity at this time. We feel this will diminish the quality and integrity of the clinical experience for our students.

Taking all of this into account and following detailed conversations with colleagues across the University, DHSV and Melbourne Dental Clinic (MDC), the senior executive team at Melbourne Dental School have agreed that all student pre-clinical and clinical activity be suspended from next week (23rd March) for a period of 1 month. We aim to resume this activity across all our partners from Monday 27th April.

It is important there is fairness and parity across all our student groups on our programs so cancelling all activity ensures no group is favoured over another. These suspensions will be reviewed during the month and the restart date for clinical placements will be subject to advice from government, DHHS, DHSV and Faculty.

Online delivery

Academic University activity will continue. You will have all seen the communication this week from our VC. This made it very clear that the University of Melbourne is moving to a change in format from face-to-face teaching and research and putting in measures to utilise alternative delivery methods. The target date for this is March 23rd. As a School we are preparing for this so that we can deliver online education to our students with confidence.

Here at the Melbourne Dental School we place the health and wellbeing of our students, staff and patients at the forefront of our activities along with providing a world class education. The Melbourne Dental School will move to online teaching for larger class sizes within the week, however small group tutorials for some cohorts may continue. You will be contacted with details for your new online teaching timetable as soon as possible or face to face tutorials by the team here at MDS and your course convener. This will of course lead to significant changes to teaching, timetabling and our usual mode of business. Professional services support will continue but may be delivered remotely. Students and colleagues will be informed when any online teaching is to be delivered as we adapt our timetables accordingly.

These are challenging times and patience is required from all of us as we continue to work together as a team, staff and students, to keep oral health and dental education moving.

Further information for students and staff regarding the University's response to COVID-19 can be found on the dedicated COVID-19 webpage.

Professor Alastair J Sloan BSc, PhD, PGCert, FHEA, FRSB

Head | Melbourne Dental School

Last updated : 24 Mar 2020

FAQs

  • 1. How will this impact me?

    As mentioned in the Head of School email, as of Monday 23 March, clinical placements will be suspended and your teaching staff will provide online teaching spaces and content as we move to an online delivery method to ensure minimal disruption to your educational experience. It is at the forefront of our delivery that your education remains our top priority and that you continue to receive the highest quality education during this time. The staff at MDS are also in constant communication with our clinical placement providers and will continue to keep you all up to date as information becomes available.

  • 2. How long will this last?

    The suspension to clinical and preclinical activities is in place until 27 April. We will continue to closely review the arrangement and be guided by the advice from the University, and State and Federal Government. We will ensure that we keep you up to date during this time.

  • 3. Is the University still open, and are we required to only partake in online learning?

    Yes, the University is still open and available to students. While social distancing guidelines apply, it is important to stay connected. This again is an ever-evolving situation reliant on State and Federal Government advice.

  • 4. What options are available if I can't study from home?

    We understand for many of you the option to study from home may not suit your situation and as such the University had study spaces available in these instances.

  • 5. Am I still required to attend lectures and tutorials?

    Yes, but lectures and tutorials scheduled for Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 March will be postponed to enable staff to prepare for the transition to online teaching. Lectures, seminars and group activities will be converted to online where possible and we will commence online teaching on Wednesday 25 March. It is highly recommended that you have a web-cam, head set and internet access for online learning. Again, you are welcome to use the University study spaces should you need. Changes to timetables will be posted on Canvas.

  • 6. Will there be opportunities to make up missed placement or clinic hours?

    We will make this a priority and will be working closely with all placement providers to ensure students achieve the necessary skills and competencies expected. We anticipate additional and extended clinical sessions later in the year to catch up. We will continue to keep you updated as this process evolves.

  • 7. How will this impact my attendance hurdle, assessments or exams?

    While attendance is a hurdle requirement, we anticipate this will be affected along with assessments and exams, and we will be working closely with the Faculty, University Academic Board and Australian Dental Council to overcome this issue.

  • 8. Will this affect my graduation?

    We are committed to ensuring all our students meet the necessary requirements to ensure they can graduate and register for professional practice. This may impact the duration of the academic year and the time of your graduation, however this is part of ongoing discussions between other universities and the national accreditation bodies about how this will be handled.

  • 9. The placement provider I am rostered to is willing to continue placements, do I really need to leave?

    Yes, your University scheduled clinical placements have been suspended for now. Some of you may be thinking about offering your services to clinics on a voluntary basis. This must first be discussed with the School to ensure that there are appropriate arrangements in place to safeguard your level accountability.

  • 10. If I need help, who do I contact?

Due to the ever-changing and fast-paced nature of this situation, please monitor your University email account and the University website to ensure you are up to date. As a Faculty, we are pulling together to navigate the upcoming challenges.

If you have any questions about COVID-19 including self-isolation, COVID-19 testing and travel, please visit the COVID-19 support page for the latest advice for both staff and students. If you are experiencing any stress or anxiety, you are encouraged to access the support services available from Student Life.

Please continue to practice good personal hygiene, check your emails for updates and stay well.

Adjusting your study habits during COVID-19

"We will get through this together."

Things may feel out-of-control right now. You may be facing a lot of unknowns and disruptions. Try to be patient with yourself, your classmates, and your instructors during this time. Take care of your wellbeing first. Planning and adjusting your study may help you feel even a little sense of control.

Use this resource as a starting point.

Your study habits may need to change.

While many of your classes must be online and remote, here are some strategies to keep in mind:

  • 1. Staying organised

    With so many things changing in your courses, you might be reliving that first week-of-class confusion at exam-week pace.

    Here are some things you might want to keep track of for each subject:

    Are in-person parts of the subject changing?

    • What are the in-person parts of this course? (lecture, lab, etc.)
    • Where can you find it or how do you access it? (live-stream, lecture capture, etc.)
    • Is it at a specific time or can you watch it anytime?

    Are assignments changing?

    • Are there new due dates?
    • Is how you're submitting your assignments changing?
    • Are any quizzes or exams being offered virtually?

    What should you do if you need help?

    • Are your lecturers offering virtual office hours? When and on what platform?
    • Is there an online forum for asking questions?
  • 2. Avoiding multitasking

    If you're doing more work on your own and your time is less structured, you might be more tempted to multitask. Many people think that they can do multiple things at once. But research shows us that only about 2% of the population can multitask. Even if you feel like you're multitasking, you're probably not... really, you're switching between tasks very quickly (some call this "micro-tasking").

    The downsides of multitasking and micro-tasking:

    • Assignments take longer. Each time you come back to an assignment (from Instagram for example), you must get familiar with it, find your spot, remember what you were going to do next, etc.
    • You're more likely to make mistakes. Distractions and switching between tasks tires out the brain.
    • You'll remember less. When your brain is divided, you're less able to commit what you're learning to long-term memory (because it doesn't get encoded properly into your brain).

    What to do instead:

    When you need to study something important, consider the Magic of Monotasking.

    • Focus on one thing at a time.
    • Take breaks between tasks.
    • Consider the "pomodoro method" to help you focus for 25- or 50-minute periods and then reward yourself with 5- or 10-minute breaks.
  • 3. Making the most of video lectures
    • Stick to your instructor's schedule as much as you can. Staying on schedule will help you have a feeling of normalcy and prevent you from falling way behind.
    • Find our how to ask questions. Is there a chat feature? Is there a discussion forum?
    • Close distracting tabs and apps. Humans are not as good at multitasking as they think! (See above: 2. Avoid multitasking)
    • Continue to take notes as you would if you were there in person.
    • Watch recordings at normal speed. Research shows that playback speed of 1.5x can lower your retention and can result in lower scores on assessments. Faster playback speeds are worse for complex, multi-step material (which most of your lectures probably are). Remember: this is able about 1.5x. There hasn't even been research on 2x playback speed, which is probably even worse.
  • 4. Setting a schedule

    As the situation unfolds, you may have fewer social commitments, group meetings, or work hours. Setting a schedule for yourself can help provide structure and keep you motivated. If you don't already keep a weekly or daily calendar, try something like the example below to organise your time. Include time for exercise and self-care.

    Schedule template:

    Scheduled activitySubject tasksPersonal/Self-care
    8am  Shower, breakfast
    9amCall in for remote lecture  
    10am Read chapter 3 
    11am  Break - video call with friend
    12pm  Lunch
    1pm Read chapter 4 
    2pmRecap lecture with classmate 
  • 5. Trading your strategies for new ones

    Your routines may have to adjust during this time. Look for ways to adapt your usual habits or form new ones.

    For example:

    • If you usually study in a coffee shop or library, ask yourself what kind of environment helps you study. See if you can recreate that at home. Maybe it's studying in a chair, rather than on your bed or couch, or moving to a new spot when you change tasks. If you feel you need background noise, consider a white noise app.
    • If you always study in groups, try a virtual or even phone-based study session with your group.
    • If you thrive on tight timelines, but now have a more open schedule, think about how working with others or setting up a schedule can recreate that for you. When that gets hard, see if you can even do fifteen minutes at a time.
  • 6. Working with a group or team

    Remote collaboration will look a little different, but it is possible.

    • Try not to procrastinate. That group project may be out-of-sight, out-of-mind if you aren't seeing each other regularly. Resist the urge to put it off. Make small progress and stay in touch.
    • Meet regularly, especially if you usually touch base during class or lab. Consider a quick text on your group chat about progress every couple of days. Ideally, have real conversations over video any week you're working together. Check out tools you have access to as UoM students.
    • Set a purpose for meetings and use a shared notes doc. Meetings might feel different when using video, even if your team was really good at working informally in the past. Try to set the purpose of your meeting in advance. Take notes in a shard doc so you can all contribute and follow along.
    • Keep videos open when you can. As long as you can see whatever you need to collaborate, aim to keep the video visible on your computer screen. It'll help you see the expressions of your teammates and stay connected to each other.
    • Check on each other and ask for backup. If someone has been absent from your group meetings or chat, ask the directly if they're still able to participate in the project. If you aren't getting responses within a day or two, let your instructor know. Know it isn't being petty, it's your team's responsibility.
  • 7. Staying connected to other people

    Even if we limit how much face-to-face time we spend with others on campus, connecting with family and friends might be more important than ever. And staying in touch with instructors, classmates, and group mates is still important for continued classwork.

    Here are a few ideas:

    • Schedule video calls with friends and family. Talking with loved ones is often really helpful when you're stressed or nervous about something. Taking a break to have a laugh is also important.
    • Use Hangouts in Piazza to connect with classmates to talk through a tough problem.
    • Attend virtual office hours or study groups so that you can stay up to date on your coursework.

Please remember, this will pass.

If COVID has disrupted your travel plans, ended a lab experiment you were excited about, or for any reason feels like it came at the worst possible time, remember this is temporary. You'll find your way when it settles down. You'll get back on track, and things will get back to normal. We don't know when, but it will happen.

Until then, take a deep breath, do your best, get some rest, and wash your hands.

This document was originally created by the University of Michigan Centre for Academic Innovation subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License URL

Selective suspension of some clinical placements for a limited period

Student placements are an integral part of a clinical education and we are thankful that our strong relationship with our many healthcare partners, big and small, allow us to offer world-class education to 3,600 students via over 261,000 placement days.

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