Welcome back from the Head of School

Dear Students,

The entire staff is delighted to welcome our students returning from their summer vacations.  We all hope you had a good break and return rested and ready for another busy year. Some of you will be returning from a longer break due to suspension of studies or intercalation and we hope your transition back into the BDS programme is as seamless as possible.

Whilst you’ve been on summer vacation, we’ve been busy preparing for the new academic year.   There are some important (and even exciting) updates to share with you.

We are now called Bristol Dental School

On the 1st August, our School was renamed as Bristol Dental School. This occurred in parallel with the other Schools in the Faculty – renamed as Bristol Medical School and Bristol Veterinary School.

You Said, We Did . . .   Responding to your feedback

We’ve been studying feedback in both local and national student surveys (including National Student Survey, Your Bristol Survey, and the Faculty-wide Student Mental Health Survey).

This year’s National Student Survey told us that 86% of our final years were satisfied overall with the course.  Not only is this a great foundation to build on, but the detailed data also tell us where to focus our efforts to improve your experience.

We hope that the work we have been undertaking over the last academic year, along with our curriculum review should help improve your experience further in the longer term. Key messages from the surveys included:

  • Students feeling over-assessed in the programme.
  • The timetable is not working effectively for some students.
  • Lectures should not be compulsory.
  • Streamline patient-related administration.
  • Students want to see more patients. 
Assessment and timetabling

We’ve already started reducing the number of assessments. We have combined several OSCEs, and some unit assessments are reduced in length. We also have plans to lessen the burden of the Dentist in Society exams for years 2, 3 and 4, which need final approval in the next few weeks. Students in the relevant years should feel the benefits of these changes this year.

Looking forward, a key focus within the ongoing BDS Curriculum Review is reducing the burden of assessment whilst ensuring clinical competence and meeting our obligations to the GDC. Likewise, the Curriculum Review will allow us to make fundamental changes to the timetable. Whilst we aim to make significant changes from 2019 onwards, we will adjust current assessments and timetables ahead of that where we can.

We look forward to working with your year reps and student-staff liaison committee on all this. 

Most lectures no longer compulsory

Thanks to hard work from Emily and last year’s Year reps, most lectures will not be compulsory from now on.  The exceptions to this are lectures delivered by guest staff, including NHS clinical staff. Out of respect to professional colleagues who often give their time to you, these lectures will need to remain compulsory.

Patient-related administration

Over the last academic year, we have been working closely with colleagues in UHBristol Dental Hospital to reduce the work you do on patient administration.  You should all be very pleased with this!  In order to make things flow smoothly there are some things you’ll need to stay on top of.

Patient Bookings/administration 

Kay Chilcott will be joined very shortly by a colleague to support the booking and administration of patient appointments (date tbc).   In the meantime, from 4th September, the reception desk should make all appointments for patients as they leave clinics, they will also cancel and rebook patients for you if a patient calls to re-arrange the appointment.

Your responsibility – To ensure the smooth administration of patient appointments, please complete outcome forms for the attendance and pass them to the reception desk as the patient finishes the appointment. Use Medway to check your availability and verbally agree the next appointment. The patient should have their appointment booked at reception desk and leave with their appointment letter (but we realise this may not always be practical at peak times).   Please remember not to contact patients with your mobile phone.

Patient Notes

Medical Records staff will pull all your notes for CDH and ADH patients. You’ll receive notes on clinic from the nursing staff. Please return notes to the reception desk. Medical Records will need 2 days’ notice to pull student notes.

Benefits this new system:

  • Medical Records will pull and file patient notes for you;
  • Having patient notes on clinic ahead of the treatment session will allow nursing staff to better prepare clinics and chairs, reducing your waiting time.
  • Patients booked with a week’s notice will be sent a text reminder, helping reduce DNAs;
  • Patient management by reception and Kay Chilcott (and new team member) will remove the “Message Book” on ADH, and will allow the team to fill your gaps in your appointment book

Your responsibility – For this to work, you’ll need to be organised and avoid booking in patients at short notice. Where patients are booked in with less than 2 days’ notice, you will need to pull and trace the patient notes from Medical Records. After completing a patient session you’ll need to return the notes to the reception desk.

More patients available!

In response to student concerns raised at Staff-Student Liaison Committee and elsewhere, last academic year the School took responsibility for attracting patient volunteers from the Dental Hospital. So far, we have:

  • Re-written the Dental Hospital website, improving information available and the profile of student treatment availability.
  • Updated the General Medical Practitioner “Directory of Services”
  • Infographic slide on TV screens in the Dental Hospital
  • Advertised via University of Bristol, including messages in staff payslips, all staff bulletins, circulation of e-flyers to staff and students, posters in Student Health Service, and website article/UoB twitter feeds.
  • Advertised via UHBristol staff bulletins, marketing materials to internal and external stakeholders.
  • Clinical Commission Group have advertised the service to their stakeholders (GPs etc.)

In response to these initiatives, we have seen a growth in patient self-referrals. Whilst it has taken some time to get the patients assessed, clinical staff have been running assessment clinics over Easter and over the Summer break which should have a positive impact for all students this academic year.

We continue to try and get the message out to patients in Bristol area, and would welcome any thoughts or ideas for further initiatives.

Staff Changes

We have been busy recruiting over the Summer break and would like to welcome:

  • Radhika Desai, Clinical Teaching Fellow in Restorative Dentistry (full time)
  • Erlind Pepla, Clinical Teaching Fellow in Restorative Dentistry (2 days per week)
  • Tiago Caldas, Clinical Teaching Fellow in Restorative Dentistry (1 day per week)
  • Rosie Power, Clinical Teaching Fellow in Paediatric Dentistry (1 day per week)
  • Yuki Stewart, Clinical Teaching Fellow in Paediatric Dentistry (1 day per week)
  • Helen Cutts, Clinical Teaching Fellow in Paediatric Dentistry (1 day per week)
  • We are also hopeful of welcoming two new staff (full time Clinical Teaching Fellow and full time Professor) in Restorative Dentistry (start dates tbc)
  • We are advertising for another Senior Clinical Teaching Fellow in Restorative Dentistry

You will be aware that Dr Susan Hooper retired at the end of July and will be sadly missed by students and staff alike. We would also like to thank and wish Sneha Kubal well in her future as she has taken up a post in London.

New e-Portfolio system

We’ve purchased a new, smoother, e-Portfolio system, which we plan to pilot in the autumn and roll out at the beginning of term 2. It will capture information in broadly the same way as the existing system, but will also allow us to get patient feedback.

We are also planning to develop a student dashboard, so that you get a better overview of your clinical activity and gradings. We would welcome student involvement as we design and pilot this system, Chris Mills will ask for volunteers when we are at the stage to design the student dashboard.

Feedback on the Dental Café

We have heard feedback from students and staff on the Dental Café, and plan to pilot a salad bar from the 4th September. Look out for new products and different offers that should be available over the next academic year. We are also investigating the possibility of self-service “bean to cup” coffee machine to help manage the demand during peak times and outside of opening hours.

Student Common Room

We’ve arranged for the old Hathorn Bar to be renovated over the autumn.  It will be set out in a way that will make turn it into a common room for use throughout the day.  Like the café, we’re investigating the possibility of installing a coffee machine in there too.

With all these changes in mind, we’re hoping that your experience with us is as good as it can be in 2017/18.

With best wishes,



Peter Robinson

Head, Bristol Dental School

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