Posts Tagged ‘dentistry’

Smile! Geographer on camera to help BBC get behind drills, dentures and dentistry

Kristin Hussey Headshot

PhD student in the School of Geography Kristin Hussey

Most people tend to think of academics and postgraduate students as always buried in books in some dusty archive or whiling away behind a computer screen. I think you would be surprised at all of the different research activities we actually get up to. Not to say we don’t do those things; as a historical geographer, books, archives and museums are the reality of my day to day. But now more than ever it’s important to reach out and engage audiences with our research in new ways. Sometimes, this can mean actually getting in front of a camera and discussing your interests with a broadcast audience!

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Kristin talks about her previous research into dental surgery during WWI with prize-winning writer, historian and author of the BBC’s Eyewitness audiobooks, presenter Professor Joanna Bourke.

In the past I’d assumed you needed to be a lecturer before your opinion was sought out for on-camera interviews, but actually there seems to be a growing interest in history and historical research. I know I personally tune in to all sorts of shows along the lines of ‘Secret Killers of the Victorian Home’ to hear historians give me all the gruesome details. I’d never thought as a PhD student I’d have the opportunity to be on camera, so when I was asked to be interviewed by Professor Joanna Bourke for her one-hour special ‘Drills, Dentures and Dentistry: An Oral History’, I didn’t know where to begin!

In the show I’m actually discussing research I carried out in my previous position as Assistant Curator of the Hunterian Museum on dental surgery in the First World War. While my time period of interest has remained roughly the same, I’m now studying in the School of Geography at Queen Mary University of London to examine the influence of the empire and the development of British medicine in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Fortunately my supervisors have been very supportive of my continuing with any talks or appearances I’m offered on the subject of my previous work. It’s important to remember that your PhD is just one project in your broader career!

With no media experience at all, QMUL was absolutely fantastic at giving me some pointers on what to do on the day. Everything from how to dress to pattern of speaking can be very important. What I don’t think anyone prepared me for was how very hard filming can be. Hours upon hours under the hot lights becomes exhausting – especially when you don’t have a script and so you need to try and come up with an answer on the spot with the camera rolling! It doesn’t really matter how well you know your topic that can be tricky. Also, in order to get the interview from a variety of shots, you need to repeat yourself many times. I’m sure I gave wildly different answers in each take, so that’s definitely something to work on for the future. I was incredibly impressed by Joanna Bourke’s calm and professionalism doing this exhausting work.

Overall it was an interesting experience and I hope I’ll have another opportunity to give TV history a go as my PhD research progresses!

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The BBC programme was filmed at the Royal College of Surgeons here in London.

If you’d like to read more about my research, click through to my profile page on the School of Geography website.

Watch now on BBC iPlayer (Kristin at 44.30) or read more about BBC 4’s Drills, Dentures and Dentustry: An Oral History. It aired on BBC 4 on March 30th at 9pm, 2015.

The First Patient

Dentistry is a unique degree in that as students we carry out treatment independently on patients as part of the course. All the treatment we do is overseen by qualified members of staff but in the end the drill’s in our hands which can be scary!

We first started going into clinics in our first year but we worked in groups of three; the dentist, the patient and the nurse. This helped us get used to the chair and the tools and mostly just looking into people’s mouths. The tutors walk around and literally pick on everything – how to position the light or position your own chair or even hold the instruments!

The next step is to go to a series of communication skills seminars which sound really pointless but are actually quite useful. We did loads of role plays pretending to be dentists and difficult patients. Going to these made me realise how easy it is to get carried away talking in dental jargon, which we’re so used to using, that the patients won’t understand.

So near the end of second year was the first time we saw our own ‘real’ patients for a check up appointment. No matter how much the tutors tried to convince us we were ready it still felt like I had no idea what to do. It wasn’t so much that I felt like I was going to hurt the patient but more that my mind would go blank and I wouldn’t know what to say next or that I would somehow offend the patient accidentally.

Turns out it was just as the tutor said it would be; my patient was absolutely lovely, the tutor was so helpful and whole experience was pretty fun! Bring on the next three years!

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