Defence Broadcast Replay: Lieutenant Sarah Benton and Captain Michael Lines


G’day everbody, and welcome
to the Health Interactive live broadcast. I’m Captain Michael Lines,
and I’m a dental officer in the Army. With me this evening is
Lieutenant Sarah Benton, who’s an officer in the Navy. We’ll be answering your
questions tonight over the next hour, and hopefully we’ll
be able to give you some insight into our lives and the
sort of experiences we’ve had. So, Sarah, tell us a
bit about yourself. Thanks. So I’m Lieutenant Sarah Benton,
and I’m a dental officer in the Navy. I come from Perth, and I did
my undergraduate dentistry degree at the University
of Western Australia. I got into the Navy through
what used to be called the undergraduate scheme,
so I got my last two years at uni sponsored. And now I’m coming towards the
end of my third year since I graduated at the end of 2008. At the moment, I’m one of the
fleet dental officers, so I’m part of a fleet team that
is mobile, and we occasionally go to sea. And I based at HMS Sterling. Thanks, Sarah. My experience is similar. I was already an officer in
the Army, so the Army sponsored me through my
education through the University of Sydney. Again, I’ve been a dental
officer in there for nearly three years. I’ve been posted to two
units in the Army. The first one was the Second
Health Support Battalion in Brisbane. And I’m currently posted to
the First Combat Service Support Battalion in Darwin. So much with that. We might take some
questions now. So, we’ll just get started. The first question comes
from Janet Jay. She asks, why did you
choose your service? Well for me, it was
pretty easy. I joined the Army reserve when
I was in my early 20s. And my military career
grew from that. I was very interested in it
all through my childhood. The decision to become a dentist
came a bit later. But basically, the choice
of service for me was pretty easy. I was always interested
in the Army. How about you, Sarah? For me, it was quite
different. I was already at University. And one of the other girls in
my courses was interested in joining the Navy. And I always just assumed that
if you joined the Defence Force, you’d get posted off to
weird locations in the middle of nowhere. And then when I started looking
into it, I found that if I joined the Navy, to start
off with, most likely I’d just be posted to Perth or Sydney. So initially, for me. The reason I joined the Navy
was more to do with posting locations and where
I might end up. With the Army and the Air Force,
there’s not really much chance of getting posted
back to WA, which is where I was from. Since joining, I’ve found
other benefits. I love the Navy, and
I’m really glad that I made that decision. But initially, it was based on
location and posting locality. I’ll tell you that the choice
of service really depends on the sort of thing you’re
looking for. And it’s worth investigating
what each of them offers and how they’re different. And I’d say that one
individual’s experience is different to another’s. I love the Army, personally. One of the things I like
about it is the fact– it’s the people that you get to
work with, and sort of what you get to do. And I find that very
rewarding. OK. Next question. OK. Gerard asks, does the IDF
support future health specialist training? The answer is yes. If by that you mean going to do
specialisation inside your official field, yes, there are
opportunities for that. For example, I was talking to
someone today who’s doing his pros training here
in Melbourne. And we’ve just got someone who’s
about to graduate from Adelaide Uni. He’s done perio over there. So there are opportunities
for that. It’s not necessarily something
that everybody will get to do. It’s not guaranteed. It’s not guaranteed. You’ve got to accepted by the
university, first of all. And there’s got to be what we
call the training serial available for you do it. Does the Navy have a different
system to that? I’m not 100% sure on
the exact system. But there isn’t a lot of people
that get sponsored to do specialist training. It is really selected on
a case-by-case basis. So I definitely wouldn’t say to
someone, yeah, if you come in, then you’ll definitely
get to do a specialty. And obviously, the Defence Force
is only interested in you doing specialties
that are useful. So, sort of pros, perio, and
endo, I’d say, would be the three main ones. It would be very rare for
someone to be out to do ortho. And obviously pedo, we don’t
really have much use for, because we don’t see children. But what you can do, and what
you definitely are pretty much guaranteed to get, is funding
to do your fellowship exam. So to do the primaries, which
then can lead you on to doing a specialty. So that’s actually part
of the dental officer career structure. To go from CL2 to CL3, you
would need to do your fellowship examinations or
do a graduate diploma. So even if you don’t get
selected to do a masters, you can do that, and then decide
to do that yourself afterwards. Or if you wanted to do a bit
more limited training, so you can do grad dips
in IV sedation. There’s grad dips in implants,
oral surgery, and they’re generally more like
one-year courses. You’re much more likely to
get to do one of those. I guess the main point to take
away is that there are opportunities for that, but you
shouldn’t assume that it’s something that everybody
will get to do. And things like ortho, we’re
not going to do that. pedo, obviously, we won’t. So, as Sara said, there are some
key things that I like to be supportive, but it’s not
something everyone should expect to have the opportunity
to do. OK. We’ll move on. OK. Blake asks, Lieutenant Benton,
did you have a good time at NEOC? Thanks, Blake. This is obviously a
well-informed person. Yeah. Me, personally, I had a
fantastic time at NEOC. I sort of treated
it as a bit of a break from doing dentistry. Obviously, by the time you get
to your dental degree, it it’s a pretty long and
arduous thing. And you’re sort of
a bit worn out. So I had a really good time. You meet heaps of people and
make lots of friends. It is a bit tough, especially
at the beginning. There’s a lot of hard work and
more in terms of physical training and getting up
early in the morning. But, yeah, you get to do heaps
of different things. They teach you to use weapons. You do firefighting,
survival at sea. We spent one day where we just
sat in a raft– which, I mean, that wasn’t that fun. But who gets to do that
as a dentist. You definitely get to
do a much broader experience of things. And none of it’s really
dental-related. Which is fine. It’s 5 and 1/2 months that
you’re away for. But they know that
you’ve done that. So when you get back to work,
the bosses are all aware that you’ve just had five months
without doing any dentistry. So everyone’s quite happy for
you take your time, and you’ve got really good mentors there
helping you get back on track with your dentistry. Did you find that set you up
well for deployment at sea? Yeah, I mean, doing NEOC, as
you’re probably aware, it’s not– the Army has their
specialist service officer training, so that’s more the
doctors and dentists and things do it together. Whereas in the Navy, you do the
same officer training that every officer in
the Navy does. So that’s really good for when
you go away, because it means that you make friends
with engineers. You make friends with warfare
officers, supply officers, the whole spectrum. And pretty much wherever
you go. I mean, I’ve got friends
in every base in Australia, just about. And whenever you go to sea,
there’s always at least one or two people that you know. So, it’s a really good
networking tool as well for your future career. OK. Cool. We might take another
question. OK. Todd B asks, have you had any
operational deployment experience? I’ll start here. Yeah. I have. Not as a dentist, though. In my previous role in the Army,
I was a psychologist. I did that for eleven years. And I deployed to Bougainville,
East Timor, and the Solomon Islands. They were awesome experiences. And they were not just special
professionally, but are special for me personally,
and they have actually meant a lot to me. I had really interesting,
worthwhile experiences there. Since being a dentist, the only
deployment experience I’ve had has been on exercise,
or the ACAP mission that I did last year. So since I did dentistry,
It’s been a little bit more limited. But hopefully that
will change. But then, having said that,
deployment exercise is a very worthwhile thing
to do as well. From the beginning of this year,
I actually posted into the Fleet Dental billet. So I have gone on one overseas
deployment so far. I went away with a ship for two
months, and we went up all around Southeast Asia. So that was a really
great experience. I had heaps of fun. Working at sea is very different
to working ashore. You’ve got a bit more
limited resources. Obviously, you’re there
by yourself. So it’s really good getting to
learn to run your own thing. It’s just you and your DA
working through patients. You kind of work weird hours
sometimes, because you’ve got to work around what
the ship’s doing. So sometimes I’d have
half the day off. And then you’d end up working
until 8:00 at night after dinner, just trying to
do things around what the ship’s doing. You get to join in
in DC exercises– damage control exercises. We also had a sports day on
some island in Malaysia. Because we were there on an
international exercise. So there were other navies
there, and it was good international relations. So, yeah, that was
my first one. I’m hoping to get
to do lots more. The times I’ve deployed exercise
and done dental work in the field, we do full-on
dentistry in the field in a tent. It’s similar to working on a
ship, because it’s in a campus environment. But the equipment we’ve got that
we take in the field with us, we can do anything,
dentally, that you would do in a fixed facility. And it’s really good
equipment. It works really, really well. And I found that you have to
think a bit more flexibly about the way you do things,
but it’s really good and really interesting. And we had a really good time. I had an experience in 2009. I went into an exercise
called Talisman Sabre. We had an American Navy dental
team deployed to there as well, which had a dental
officer and two dental assistants. And that was really interesting,
to get an idea of how the American system works
differently to ours. And there are differences. And also, the dentists and I
talked about differences in the way we approach various
sorts of treatment. So that was a worthwhile
thing to do as well. But the bottom line is that
the opportunities to do different things over there, and
going and working out in a tent in the Bush– in the middle of, for example,
the Townsville Field Training Area, where there’s just
nothing in sight– is not something most dentists
do in their career, and it’s a really worthwhile experience. Well, we’ll take another
question. Blake asks Sarah, what sorts
of benefits did the Defence Force give you to help you
through university? All right, Blake. Well, I guess the obvious things
are that the years that they sponsor you for, they’ll
pay your HECS debt. So that’s quite handy. When you finish up, you’ve only
got about half the HECS debt that everyone else does. And also, I think that the main
thing that really helps is they will buy your
textbooks for you that you need. And also, you get a wage
while you’re at uni. I’m not sure what it
is at the moment. I would assume it’s gone up
since I went through. But that basically meant
I didn’t have to work. So, I don’t know how far
you are into your degree at the moment. But you’re probably aware
that dentistry is a very time-consuming course. And I definitely felt it was
beneficial that I could just go home at night and concentrate
on studying. And if had a bit of free time
on the weekend, I could actually relax. Whereas there were some other
people in the course that were having to go in and
do jobs after hours and on the weekends. So they just had no free time. You’re just flat out
all the time. So I’d say that was
the biggest thing. There is also– depending on where you’re
doing your degree and if there’s a base down there– in WA, we’ve got one of our
undergraduates comes down sometimes if she just wants a
bit of help with some of her unit stuff. So if you want it, there’s
always help there available to have a bit of a mentor at the
base to help your dental studies, too. OK. Cool. We’ll take another question. Damien asks, is it hard to
be a dental officer? That’s a really good question. And I think it’s probably like
most jobs you’ll encounter, particularly jobs that have a
professional basis, and where you’re dealing with people. Particularly in a clinical
setting. There are things that are hard,
and there are things that are easy. And every day is different. Putting aside the military thing
for a moment– and I’ll come back to that– the
dentistry side is probably much like you’d experience
clinically in most other environments, with a couple
of key exceptions. You don’t have to
worry about the financial side of the business. You don’t have to worry about
patients being able to pay for the treatment you’re
offering them. So you can make really good
treatment plans for them and achieve really good treatment
outcomes. So that side of being a dentist
in the military does make life a bit easier. In terms of being in the
military, there are challenges with that, like with any job. It does ask things of you
that other jobs don’t. And that’s just the reality. In Army, it asks you to move
around quite a bit. It asks you to spend quite a
lot of time away from home. It asks you to do different
things. It asks you to work strange
hours, like weekends or night. These are just realities. In Army, there’s a lot
of physical training. I mean, in my unit, we
do physical training three times a week. So these, again, are
just the sorts of realities we deal with. I wouldn’t say that it’s hard. There are parts that are
very challenging. But like any job, there are
things that you enjoy doing. There are things that you really
don’t enjoy doing. But you still have to do them. And any job will ask
that of you. That’s my belief at
least, anyway. What do you think, Sarah? Yeah, I’d agree with
a lot of that. I think, Damien, if you’re
asking, is it hard to be a dental officer as opposed to a
dentist outside, then no, I don’t really think
it’s any harder. Like Mike said, the dentistry
side of things, I think, if anything, is easier. Because you don’t have
those money concerns. And you also have a lot of
support in terms of resources and being able to refer people
out to a specialist, and also doing the extra training. But then, you do have to
remember that there is the officer component to being
a dental officer. So you don’t only have
your dentist duties. But as far as being an officer
goes, I think, also, being a dentist is one of the better
jobs you can have. I don’t know about
in the Army. But I think definitely in the
Navy, a lot my other officer friends are very jealous of
our job, and the hours we work, and the lack of watches
and late-night duties that we have to do. So I think it’s great job. I have much the same views. In the Army, every officer
has responsibilities as a commander and as a leader. And you have to live
up to those. And they make demands on you
personally and your character. And often you find yourself
making difficult decisions that affect the lives
of other people. That’s just the reality. You do that in dentistry. You do that as an officer. And they do very much
link together. But, yeah, it’s a great job. But I certainly wouldn’t
describe it as hard. But aspects of it can be
challenging at times. There’s no question about it. We’ll press on. Vivian asks, what are the best
moments of your careers in the Defence Force? I might let you take
this one first. Well, I think it’s the same
as the career highlights. It’s definitely for me
been going to sea. And also, just being able to
meet other people, and the networking that you do
within the Navy. Not even so much the dental
components, but it’s just an experience that you can’t
really get elsewhere. For example, we were out doing
PT in the afternoon. You’re in the tropics, and
there’s a beautiful sunset. And you’re just running around
on the flight deck, and then there are these fighter
jets flying overhead. And you’re just like, whoa,
that’s really cool. You don’t really get to
do that anywhere else. So I think definitely going away
and doing those sorts of things that you just don’t get
to do in civilian practise would be some of my best moments
in the Defence Force. I think, in summary, that the
thing that makes a difference in the military is the sort of
people you get to work with, and the sort of things
that you do. And there are things that people
in civilian really don’t experience. You work very highly-trained
people who are very committed and very mad about it,
which is fantastic. For me, personally, I think the
best moments are similar. Being on deployment last year
up at High Range Training Area, which is west of
Townsville, and again, similar thing, we got divebombed
by [INAUDIBLE]. That was something that not
may people get to face. That was pretty interesting. But in terms of clinical
experience and doing the actual job, I did an exercise
last year called the Army Aboriginal Community
Aid programme. We went to a place called
Pukatja, which is in the middle of South Australia. It’s 200 kilometres west of
the Stewart Highway, which leads from Adelaide
to Alice Springs. We were out there for
three months. And I got to work face-to-face,
hands-on with the Aboriginal community
there. And that was some of
the best clinical experience I’ve ever had. Did about 180 extractions
in that time, which was fantastic. Inserted 50 sets of dentures. The sort of thing you just don’t
normally get to do in normal practise. And it was really
quite something. You do see things there that you
don’t see back here in the normal day-to-day work. All sorts of interesting
pathology and people with quite advanced conditions. I’ve got some fantastic
slides. So those sorts of things
are outstanding. But in terms of the day-to-day
life, I think the best moments are the time you get to
spend working with other military members. I’ve had the chance, myself,
to deploy with Australian servicepeople overseas. And it’s one of the
most rewarding things in life, I think. It’s a real community. It is. That you join. They’re very good, and
very dedicated. And you see some quite
remarkable people at work. And that’s fantastic. You have a point you’d
like to make? Nope. Cool. We’ll take another question,
I think. Bryan M asks, what do
you do to stay fit? For me, I’m very big
into running. I love running. I try to run every day. Now, I don’t always
manage that. But that’s my aim. I try to do about 10 kilometres
every day. Again, I don’t always
manage that. As well as that, work does
help us out a lot. We do physical training three
times a week at the unit on out up in Darling. Two days a week, it’ll be an
hour session in the morning. And on Friday, we’ll do a
two-hour session, which starts at 6:30 in the morning. You have to start that early in
Darling, because it’s very hot and it’s very humid. Don’t know that I like that. It’s very easy to overdo
it up there. So those are the sort
of things we do. The physical training varies. Some things like circuits,
or up to long-distance running, to– the other day, we did a swim
circuit, which involved picking up heavy weights off
the bottom of a pool, which was three metres deep. That was one of the more scary
experiences in my life. I have done that. It’s pretty good fun. In full cams, I might add. I was wearing this. Crazy how many people– That was quite interesting. But those are the sort
of things we do. A lot of the guys are
now spending a lot of time in the gym. Some of them get quite
buff and quite huge. They’re very into it. Very into it. Yeah. How about you guys? What do you guys do? At the base I’m at, HMAS
Sterling, we’re very fortunate that we get the option to
do sport every day. So Mondays and Tuesdays in the
morning from 7:30 when we get to work, it’s compulsory
individual PT. So we don’t actually start
seeing patients till 9:00. So we have sort half an hour, 45
minutes in the morning to– I tend to go– I like running as well. But you can choose to go to
the gym, or go to a weight session, or there’s
a pool there. So you can really do
whatever you like. Then on Wednesday afternoons,
we have PT with the whole health centre. We do something different each
week, so we’ll play water polo, or we’ll do basketball,
or hockey, or something like that. And then Thursday-Friday
mornings, we have the admin in the morning. So it’s optional whether you
want to go to the gym. Or if you’ve got other work that
you have to catch up on, then you can do that as well. So work definitely
helps you out. You’re at work anyway. You might as well go do
some fitness stuff. And then I also do
stuff after work. I’ll go ride my horse most
days after work. Work definitely is great. Who else gets paid to go to the
gym while they’re at work? I might make the point just here
that, certainly in Army, you do get your fitness
tested twice a year. Every six months, you have to
demonstrate your fitness through what we call our basic
fitness assessment, which involves a 2.5 km run, push-ups,
and sit-ups. And like I said, that’s
tested twice a year. So there is an incentive to
maintain a level of fitness. Because the last thing you want
to do is try and spend 2 weeks trying to go from
the low limits up to where you can pass. And all those things have a
standard which is related to sex and age. As well as that, depending
which unit you’re in– and mine is an example
of this– every year we’ve got to do what
we call a combat fitness assessment, which involves a 15
km route march carrying a pack which must weigh
25 kilos, or 30% of your body weight. And there’s some other
components to that as well. So there is definitely an
incentive to stay fit, and there is a requirement
to do that anyway. And most people, though, don’t
have any trouble meeting those requirements. You guys do it once
a year, don’t you? Yeah. The Navy’s not quite as intense
for the fitness stuff, so we have to do
it once a year. And our fitness levels
aren’t quite as high. So for the run, our time’s
not as fast that you have to do it in. But there is still a basic level
of fitness that you have to maintain. And we don’t have any of
the combat fitness. There’s no pack marching, which
I’m quite happy with. That’s a fetish that’s
purely Army. We might press on. Okay. This is one for me. Blake asks, Michael, how did you
make your transition from psychology to dentistry? Well, I think very
well, actually. Now in all seriousness, I’ve
had people ask me this question quite a lot. So I’ve got a fairly practised
answer, I guess. But the simple reality is
that in dentistry– and you’ve probably found the
same thing– there’s actually a lot of psychology in it. Because you’re dealing with
an individual person. And you still have to– I find a lot of the skills I
used as a psychologist– which were all about assessing
data, talking to people, getting them to share with you
things that are about them– I’m using those skills
even now. Perhaps not to the same depth. But certainly, when you’re
trying to find out from somebody what is causing
them pain, then you’re asking questions. And you’ve got to use those
same sort of open-ended questions which you use when
you’re doing counselling. And I haven’t had to try to
motivate someone to adopt good oral hygiene practices yet,
but I’m finding I’m using exactly the same behaviour
modifications I’ve used as a psychologist to help
people do that. And I’m finding exactly the same
challenges, as I’m sure you know what I mean. One of the things for me, of
course, was the fact that I was already older when I
made that transition. So I was able to approach
dealing with patients from a lot more of an experienced
perspective than some of my colleagues who were
fairly younger. But I’m finding that in terms of
the science side of things, the data-driven nature of
dentistry as a profession– those things are
just-the same. So, psychology is a evidenced,
data-based profession. So is dentistry. That’s very much the same. What changes is the fact
you’re dealing with the cellular rather than the
behavioral level, which is where psychology is. What about the actual
transition? Did you find difficult to go
from the application process to get Army to allow you
to change branches? Actually, that was surprisingly
simple. I had the benefit of already
having a track record in Army. And I was a known quantity in
terms of Army’s perspective. I was accepted by the
university, and the processes that they obviously
were successful. Army didn’t really put any
barriers in my way. In fact, they facilitated it. And one of the reasons for that
was, of course, because we’re always looking to
recruit new people. Because we have a need
for people to come into the system. And they like people who clearly
have a good chance of succeeding, but also look like
they’ll adapt to the military. And I guess having been in the
Army at that stage for 11 years already, that
I had that there. But probably the biggest
transition for me– it was learning to move or
work at the level of the individual cell, if you like. And learning to think that
level again as opposed to working with a whole person
at a behaviour level. And in a way, dentistry, you
have to think at both of those levels, which is one thing that makes psychology different. Because in dentistry, you’re
thinking all about the fibres and the cells that make up
the biological structure. But you’re also dealing
with a human being. So you’ve got to take account
of those two sets of needs. The point I like to make to
people is, I’m finding that there are obviously
great differences. But there are surprising
similarities and things that I’ve been able to carry
across to both. Okay. We might press on. Blake, I hope that answers
your question. Anthony asks, what are your
day-to-day duties? OK. I’ll give this one to
you first, I think. I guess my job, there are
two aspects to it. So at the moment, I’m
just shore-based. So my day-to-day duties are,
for the most part, just being a dentist. So my average day would be, get
to work, start at 7:30. I’ll go for my run, come back,
shower, breakfast, all that kind of stuff. And then from 9:00 till 4:00,
we’re seeing patients, with a break for lunch. You’ve got to do all your
own admin type of stuff. So, write out your patient
records, any referrals that you have to do. And then for half an hour at the
end of the day, you’ve got a bit more time for admin. At the moment, in my department,
we have a CPD programme that we just
do amongst ourselves. So once a month, we
get together and– because we’re at a bit of a
bigger base, there’s about five dentists there. So we each month do a
presentation on, we’ve got a list of topics that we
made up ourselves. So I’m working on my one
of those at the moment. But as far as other military
duties go, they don’t come up to often, really. We have to do officer of the day
duty, which only comes up about once every six
months for us. We’re really lucky. When you’re at sea, it’s
a little bit different. I didn’t really get slung with
too many other duties, because I was only loaned to the ship
for a short amount of time. If you are posted to a ship
permanently, you might have to do other things, like maybe
the helo control officer. You can be a ship’s diver. And you could do officer of the
day duty at sea, and those sorts of things. So I guess when you’re in a
deployed environment, you might have more duties to do
with being an officer and managing your personnel. If you get given a division,
you’ll have divisional duties to do. But for the most part, I
basically just do dentistry. My position’s similar. Every day in the week
is different. Because the unit has a structure
to each week that you go through. For example, Monday, you start
with PT in the morning. Tuesday you have sports
training if you’re playing sport. Wednesday you have PT again. Thursday is sports day. For us, we have to have
admin, and we play sport in the afternoon. And Friday is early PT. So we start a bit later
in the surgery. So we tend not to do clinical
work on Friday afternoons. But again, I’d say that each day
is different, but there’s a routine and a structure
to the week. Basically, my duties at
the moment consist of primarily dentistry. That’s what I’m mostly doing. I do have admin duties that I’m
responsible for, because I do have soldiers who
I’m commanding. So you have responsibility for
looking out for those people, making sure their needs are met,
writing reports on them, all those sorts of things. We have an annual reporting
system that we have to comply with. As well as that, the unit itself
does occasionally give you other tasks to do as well. And that will vary depending
on the week. One thing we’ve got coming up
is, next month we’re having a battalion parade to farewell
some people. And so we’re spending a week
practicing for that, which will be absolutely awesome. Awesome. Sit around and play. Drill. It’s going to be great. I can hardly wait. No, seriously, it will
be good fun. I’d say that though that routine
is centred on your clinical work, but there are a
bunch of other things that have to work around that. Because again, you do have an
administrative load to carry. There is, as in all dentistry,
a degree of paperwork warfare that goes on. Because you have to maintain
clinical records. And you’ve got to keep all
that stuff up to date. So I’d say that day to day, it’s
centered on the clinical work, and everything else
fits around that. And you govern your
day accordingly. You have any points you’d
like to make? No. That’s about it. Hopefully that answers your
question, Anthony. Next question. Helen asks, can you specialise,
for example, to be an orthodontist? OK. In answering that question,
the first answer– –not really– –the first part is, probably
you can specialise. As an orthodontist,
probably not. The specialisations that you’re
more likely to be accepted for are things more
like periodontics. Prosthodontics and perio. And endodontics, sorry. So that’s the four of those. Orthodontics, really, I’m
not aware of anyone who’s ever done that. I don’t think it’s ever
been supported. No. For those sorts of specialties
that the Defence Force doesn’t use as often– because it’s
quite difficult to get someone approved for orthodontics. There has to be a real
functional need. A fair portion of orthodontics
is basically aesthetic, when you get down to it. So there are specialists. People do definitely
get orthodontics. But of course, it doesn’t
happen that often. I think at Sterling we
might have maybe five cases on the go. So it’s not worth them training
up someone just to do such a small case load. So we just refer out to a
contractor, a civilian practitioner for that. But in terms of specialisation,
we currently, in Army, we’ve got a guy who’s
finishing his perio specialty over in Adelaide. He finishes this year. And he’s going up in
Brisbane next year. And we’ve currently got a guy
here in Melbourne who’s doing his pros specialty. And he’ll finish next year. So the opportunities
out there. But again, it’s not something
that everybody is likely to be able to do. And there’s a limited number
of positions available, and you’ve first of all got to be
accepted by the university to do the course. And then can seek sponsorship
to actually do it. But having said that, I think
the opportunities are likely to increase in future, because
it’s a lot cheaper for the military to have specialists in
house than to keep farming people out all the time. But we’ll see how that goes. But certainly, like I said, we
have a couple of guys who are about to finish now. You’ve had a couple of guys
do endo in the last few years as well? Yes. We do have a few endos, yeah. So the option is there. But I wouldn’t like to mislead
you and give you the impression that it’s something
that everybody gets to do, because that clearly
isn’t the case. But there are certain people
who get to dot hat. But it’s something that you
need to understand is– they’re going to offer it to
somebody who’s been around for a while, is committed system and
shows signs of being so– and is a good practitioner
and a good officer. And don’t forget, as well, but
if you do a specialty, then you do incur a Return of Service
Obligation, which I’m sure the recruiting guys have
talked to you about. Any time we support someone for
training, that incurs a Return of Service Obligation. So you need to be aware
of that as well. Any other points you think
we should make? No. OK. We’ll move on. OK. Matthew is asking, if the
patient requires a removal dental prosthesis, is there
lab support, or are you required to construct
the device yourself? Got to do the wax-up all
by yourself, Matthew. All the lab work. No, I’m just joking. I haven’t done a wax-up
since I graduated. No, we do have dental
technicians. The Army– are you
still getting dental technician, or– No we don’t. We’re now using contractors
or public service. So basically all
your lab work. We just take impressions and do
the treatment plan and send it out to the lab, just like any
other dentist in private practise would do. When you’re at sea, we don’t
have a technician with us. So any prosthodontic work or
denture work has to wait until you get back to shore. So basically, you
just temporarily stabilise the patient. Do everything else that they
need doing and just let them know that you can’t have your
crown and you can’t have your denture in until we get
back to Australia. The short answer is that the ADF
doesn’t really pay us to do that kind of thing. Occasionally, you have to
do your own pourer. That sort of stuff. That happens. But there are specialist people
out there who do very high-quality prosthetic work
that we can only dream of being able to do as dentists. And it’s just not required
of us to do that. Having said that, when I was
out in Pukatja last year, I had a technician with me there
who was an Army technician. And we worked together on some
of the work that we did that. And that taught me again about
constructing dentures, how it works, and how to
do them well. Which I’m certainly not an
expert at, but yeah. We’re lucky that at Sterling
we actually have an on-site lab. So we have a technician that
works just down the hall. So that’s really useful. You can say, Mick, come in. He can do a shade for you. When it’s a bit quieter, like at
the moment, we’re quite on top of things. We don’t really have very
long waiting list. So if I’ve got an hour or so
free, I’ll usually just go down and chat with Mick
go through some cases. Say, I’ve got to do this
denture, have you got any ideas for design? He’s always willing
to talk to you. So yeah, hang out with
the lab techs. They’re always good guys, too. OK, let’s move on. OK. Verron asks, what would the
differences be between naval and army dentistry? What do you think? Well, for me, I’m biased. But I think that as a dentist,
the Navy’s got a few more opportunities to go away
and do things. So we definitely get the bulk of
the– well, at the moment, I think the only– overseas
deployments. So, if you’re really wanting to
go away and get out there and do some operational stuff,
then the Navy’s the way to go. Also in terms of location, and
we could probably talk a bit more about the Army’s
centralising around Brisbane, whereas the Navy has bases all
around Australia that you can get moved between. So you might need to move around
a little bit more than Navy than you do
with the Army. But they’re all in
great places. I mean, you’ve got
Perth and Sydney. They are the two big ones. There’s Cerberus, just near
Melbourne, Darwin, and Cairns. So, it’s not really anywhere
that you wouldn’t want to go. They’re all really
great places. As far as the people that you
worked with go, I mean, all the services have great
people to work for. And my boss is really
good at the moment. I don’t know how you’re
finding up in Darwin. I think it’s pretty
good as well. I think there’s obviously more
to it between the services than just the color
of the uniform. There are cultural differences
that are very real. And that’s going to happen. And it’s all governed by
the environment that you’re aiming to work. I mean, our job in Army
is to support deployed ground forces. But that’s, obviously,
not all that we do. In terms of geography, it’s
often been said, Navy had first choice, Army had second,
and the Air Force, because they came last, had to
pick up the dregs. I think that’s true. Navy had the best locations,
but Army’s are pretty good as well. We are centralising our
Army dental asset in Brisbane next year. In fact, it’s already
starting. And the idea behind that is that
it’s to free people up so that they can be deployed
and used operationally. And there’s a large number of
changes happening there that some of those things still
aren’t quite sorted out. But we’ll be centred in
Brisbane, and people will be doing relief work around the
country, supporting our various locations there. That isn’t all the possible opportunities we’ll have, though. And there will be other
opportunities that will occur around the country, as well. Strictly speaking, dentistry
is supposedly managed to our service. And you do occasionally– And these are very much
a tri-servicing. You do occasionally see
non-service people, non-Army people in billet service. I mean, a good example, is I’ve
just spent two months up in Darwin doing some relief
manning up there. And I was working out
of the RAF base. So I was seeing mainly
Army and RAF-y guys. Occasionally, and Army
dude will come in as well and we take hi. But, yeah, I mean, as a
Navy dentist, I don’t just see Navy people. Probably the other thing I
should add in that’s really exciting with the Navy coming up
in terms of deployments is the new LHD ships that are
coming in are going to have permanent dental surgeries
on board. So in the future, there will be
people permanently posted to those ships that will have
excellent facilities. From the plans I’ve seen, it
seems like they’re going to be like any other surgery
on land. So that’s going to be a really
good turn in the next 10 years or so. Yeah, there are lots of
opportunities like that. And it’s exciting times
all around. Culturally, what do you think? Well, I think the Army is
probably the more military of the three services. Oh, I’d say so. Definitely. I think Navy holds a
nice middle ground. So not too hard, not too soft. And then there’s
the Air Force. They’re not here to defend
themselves, so we shouldn’t say too much. That’s right. We can say what we
like about them. One of the things about the Army
that’s different is there is a lot of expectation
on you as an officer to be an officer. I’m not saying that
you guys don’t. But from Army’s perspective,
they look at you and they see that first. When a sergeant looks at
me, he sees a captain. And he doesn’t really
care what job I do. He just knows he’s in front
of an officer, and he will respond accordingly. So you’ve got to be able to deal
with that and act in the appropriate way. They do have expectations of
you, as well, that you will have, I guess, a level of
military presence and a level of, I guess, tactical
sense, as well. And they try to give you
that through various causes that you do. I mean, theoretically, I could
be asked to lay out a hospital on the ground, a field hospital
on the ground. Now that’s unlikely, but
theoretically that’s possible. I’ve actually been trying
to do that. Do you guys have things like
that, that you’ve got to deal with as well? No, I mean, there’s the whole
thing if you’re an officer first and then a dental
officer second. Because we do the training with
everyone else, we do get a sort of a bit of background
on seamanship and being at sea. And I have a vague idea of
sort of what the other branches do. But, yeah, maybe not quite
so much as the Army does. I’ve certainly found that once
you get into the whole system, there is a suite of courses you
have to do, which there’s a bunch of courses that everyone
that’s an Army officer has to do– that’s the Army All Corp Officer
Training Continuum. Everyone has to do that. There’s also a separate range
of courses which are for logistics officers. And health is logistics. And there’s three courses there
you got to do as well. And they give you a very good
background into the way that health or logistical elements
are employed on operations, and how to actually do all that
and make that work, and how we interact with the various
other elements that are out there, particularly
how we support the arms elements, which is what
edge are these. That’s why we’re there,
supporting the arms element. OK. [INAUDIBLE] asks– I hope I got that right. If I offended, if I
didn’t, I’m sorry. Any tips on decided between
Army, Navy, and Air Force? I think that’s probably similar
to the question we just answered. So I guess it depends what
you’re looking for. So like I already said, you get
a bit more overseas type stuff with the Navy, go away. Obviously, you’re on a ship. If you get chronically seasick,
not a good idea. And then the Army, you guys do a
bit more outbush type stuff. I’ve actually had
some experience with recruiting, myself. And my response to people as was
then, it’s a good idea to put anything you’ve seen from
Hollywood aside when you’re thinking about what life in
the military is like. Because it just isn’t
like that. In Army, we don’t spend all that
yelling at each other and stuff like that. You just can’t be that way. But I think Sarah made
a good point. If you think that life in Navy,
where you deploy on a ship, is something that you’re
attracted to, by all means, look at that. If you’d like a year of being
in the field and doing your work in that sort of
environment, then by all means, Army’s the way to go. Air Force, I can’t comment too
much on other than saying Air Force do basically their
entire job is sitting on a base. So they don’t seem
to go anywhere. And I certainly haven’t seen
that in the time I’ve been doing this. I’ve never seen one out of
a barracks environment. But certainly for us, I mean,
and this is going to be even more a part of our life in the
next few years, is we will be supporting deployed elements
much more. And I’m talking not just about
overseas, but here in Australia, as well. And that will be exercises
here in Australia. It’s becoming much more part of
their life than for a while it has been. I think that it’s worth
talking to, as well, face-to-face people about the
cultural thing, as well. And if you have the opportunity
where you’re situated to go down to an Army
base or the Navy base, then it’s worth doing that to see
that sort of environment. Then you’d say, exactly, it’s
not like in the movies. There’s not regiments running
around yelling at each other all the time. Does happen occasionally,
but not every day. And I guess that’s
the bottom line. You got to go and have a look
at what you see, and see what you think. There are cultural differences,
but there are a lot of similarities. And I can’t speak high
enough about it. The people I work with in the
Army are just fantastic. The same in the Navy as well. All of my 25 odd years working
in the Army, I’ve really enjoyed it. And I wouldn’t change
anything. But having said that, like any
other job, there are things that can be frustrating. There are days that you just
think, why am I doing this? But that’s rare. Heidi asks, how does the Defence
Force help mentor and train new graduates? That’s a good question. I’m glad you asked
that, Heidi. I think, as a job for a new
graduate, that the Defence Force is probably the best job
you could go for, as far as dentistry goes. Because even though it may seem
a bit scary that you’re not going to be doing any
dentistry while you do your officer training– which is
a bit shorter for Army. For Air Force and Navy, it
is quite a long time. It’s five or six months. When you first graduate, they
won’t send you to sea. They’re not going to send you
to a base where you’re the only dentist there. Navy, especially, will only
send you pretty much– I can’t guarantee this– to
Perth or Sydney or maybe Cerberus, which are
the larger bases. So there will always be senior
dentists there that are experienced. And you almost get assigned one
of the other dentists to be your mentor. I mean, you can ask whoever
you want for questions. I just found someone that
I was comfortable with. But they’re always aware that
you’re a new graduate. You have as much time as
you like to do stuff. I still, if I’m doing something
that I haven’t done for a while, I will sometimes
say to the patient, we’ll get you in after lunch. And I just block off the
whole afternoon. And so we’ve got as much
time as we need. Because you don’t have to worry
about trying to get through a certain amount
of patients in a day or anything like that. So in terms of mentorship,
I think it’s excellent. And no one’s going
to get snappy. I asked so many questions
when I first graduated. I felt like a broken record. And no one really minds. They expect that. So mentoring is really good. And as far as training
goes, there is sort of like an admin– we have things called health
directives, which are guidelines on treatment and
Defence policies to do with health and dentistry, and you
have to go through all those as well with your mentor. And there’s other training
in forensics. And you do the Dental Officer
Initial Course which is a little bit of a rehash of uni
in a very abridged way. And also there’s the
CPD training. You can get funding
to go and do other courses outside of uni. And plus there’s access to
specialists, depending on which base you’re at, and
which area you are. Up in north of Australia,
maybe not so much. But you’re not going to get sent
there as a new graduate. Around the major
centres there’s always specialists there. We get to know our specialists
quite well. Because generally, for endo,
there will be one person that we refer to most of the time. He gets to know us. The guy we use in Perth, he’s
quite happy if you give him a call and say, hey, I’ve
got this problem. What do you think? And he’ll just chat with
you over the phone. There’s definitely a lot of
support for new graduates. The thing that we’ve got going
for is the fact that we do have an organised programme
based on a series of competency levels. So when you’re a new graduate
you start as CL1. Then you progress to CL2 And
the idea is that when you first come out of uni, obviously
you’re brand new, and there is really this
expectation of what you have quickly learned to be, and the
sort of things you’ll be able to take on. The aim in the first year to
two years is to get to the stage where you can be employed
as an independent practitioner, and be able to
successfully complete cases without that much supervision. Obviously, there are going to
be limitations to that and there are going to be certain
things that, as a general practitioner, you’re just
not going to take on. And that’s fine. And that’s not to say there’s
someone looking over your shoulder all the time, either. It’s more just that there’s
someone available to give you help if you need it. One of the key items, I think,
in that first year is to get to the stage where you
can handle 90% of things without any drama. But you recognise that
10% that you just shouldn’t approach. And that’s a lesson
that all of us as dentists have to learn. And I think it’s really a career
where we find that. Got to know when to
ask for help. Exactly. When do you stick up your hand,
and get someone to come give you a hand. The programme to do that here
is a series of tasks you’ve got to complete before
you can be made a CL2 Your progression is based on
the recommendation of your mentor who is assigned to you. He or she is formally
assigned. Progression to CL3 through is
based upon completion of a fellowship, or doing a graduate
diploma course. And that comes later
in your career. So there’s a lot of help. There’s a lot of support. You will not be put in a
position that you are uncomfortable in. And They just won’t
force that on you. The aim is to get to a stage
where you can be employed in the penultimate. That’s what we’re really
looking at. Certainly, I know that next
year in Brisbane, there’s going to be quite a few
new graduates here. And there will be a lot of
supervision around there. But the fact is that that’s
just what has to occur. The supervision is very good. No one’s ever going
to criticise you for what you’ve done. They’ll give you suggestions
and advice. And that’s exactly what it is. And that will help
you through. The aim is to give good
treatment to people. That’s what it’s all about. And that’s what it’s all
about achieving. Any other points you’d
like to make? No. You covered it. I hope that answers your
question, Heidi. Heidi asks again, how does the
Defence Force alternate juggling your career and family
life, especially if you have children, or are
expecting a child? This is a very good question. And it’s something that the ADF
puts a lot of effort into. One of the realities of life,
particularly in Army has always been that we do post
people around the country. And we don’t just move them
between suburbs or cities inside a state. We will move you from
state to state. At one stage I moved
from Perth to Canberra, then to Darwin. These are the sorts of
things that you face. Obviously, if you are in a
relationship or have children, then that places a demand
on your family. The thing is that the ADF makes
it as easy on you as they possibly can. All the postings are– you’re not planning to have that
done, all your goods and chattels are moved for you. You did get a lot of
help with that. You’re not expected to manage
all that yourself. There is support for your
family, in terms of finding schools for children. That sort of thing is
provided as well. We don’t have any kids
between us, do we? No. Especially in dental, you’re
in quite a good position. Because it is a very
small branch, in any of the services. So you do have a career manager
that organises the postings for everyone. It’s a bit different for
engineers, because there’s so many of them. They can’t really keep track
on who wants to go where. But I know for us, they
almost know us all. So they go, we know Sarah
wants to stay here. And then she wants to do that. And Annie might want
to do this. So they do try to accommodate
you where you can. And especially the people that
have families and young kids and school age kids, especially,
they’re very conscious of the fact that you
don’t want to be moving your kids around in school, and
those sorts of things. I’ve moved around a lot. But that’s because I don’t
have a family. And I want to move around
a lot at the moment. There are the people
who don’t. And they try to keep them
as locationally stable as they can. You can’t put your foot down
and say, no, I’m not going. That’s not really an option. But they will try to do the
best thing by everyone. They’re quite good at looking
at the big picture. Like I said, I think that
there’s enormous effort expending in making that whole
processes as easy for them as it possibly can be. But we do recognise that a lot
of what we ask people to do does plus strenuous demands
on families. For example, when we deploy
people away– at the moment we’re deploying to Afghanistan
for nine months at a time. Clearly that places pressure
on families. I’ve got a couple of soldiers in
my unit who are spouses of infantrymen. And they certainly had
a challenging time. One of them was a
brand new mom. But again, there’s a lot
of support there. There’s a lot of freedom in
the workplace to help that person out. I think that we do a
pretty good job of helping people with that. But I’ve got to honest. The demands on families can
be strenuous at times, particularly when we send
people away a lot. With children, it’s worth
keeping in mind that we have Defence Force sponsored child
minding, as well. And a lot of the spouses have
their kids in child care while they go and work. And that’s something that is
provided with services. You don’t have to
pay for that. There are lots of good things
we do for families. In fact, the singles sometimes
get jealous about how much they receive, don’t we? Next question. Blake asks, upon leaving the
Defence Force, what sorts of qualifications and limitations
will you have when coming in the civilian world? As far as that goes, as far as
qualifications go, I wouldn’t say there any limitations. Because you’re not going to a
specialist Defence university that has a different degree. I did my degree at UWA. You got yours from Sydney. So you still have the
same degree that everybody else does. The only limitation that I
could see is that we have quite a restricted population
that we’re working with. If you wanted to get out, and
do a lot of work with children, you wouldn’t have
any experience with that. But I wouldn’t really see any
limitations, particularly. We are all, as dentists,
registered with the Health Practitioner Registration
Agency, same as everyone else has to be. You are required to
be registered. So in terms of qualifications,
you have the same levels and qualifications as every other
dentist in the country. If anything, I think that you
might have a bit more. Because we get quite a lot of
sponsored post graduate. Not post graduate in terms of
masters, but just in terms of CPD courses, and those
sorts of things. Sarah made a good point. The population that we work
with, certainly in the Army’s case are predominantly
male, about 85%. They’re all young. They’re all between the
age of 17 and 55. There are some other that,
but not very many. And they’re all relatively
healthy. So you don’t have the old. You don’t have the very young. And you don’t have the medically
compromised. So in terms of purely military
experience, those are limitations. Most of us get around that by
going doing work outside in our spare time. I know that I’ve done some work
in hospitals, which I found was very interesting
and very challenging. Because there, in that
environment, you’re dealing with a teenager one moment. And you have 90-year-old person
who’s got a broken denture coming in the next. So you do learn different
things. And even the extent of people
with bleeding sores, which you wouldn’t see. That’s another good point. I am a bit rusty on
my [INAUDIBLE] or path, medically compromised
knowledge. But if you feel that you’re
getting a bit down on it, you can go and do courses
to learn. We encourage people to get
that experience outside. Because when you deploy, you’re
doing humanitarian assistance work– Then you’ll be seeing kids
and sick people. You’ll see old people. You’ll see young people. You’ll see people who have
medical compromise. And if they don’t speak English,
it may be a problem actually finding out what
that issue actually is. So most of us get around that
by looking for work outside. I don’t think that any of us
feel a lack of qualification or limitation. [INTERPOSING VOICES] We’ll move on. Damian asks, how much shore
leave do you get? I think he might be asking
you that question. Damian, I assume you’re
referring to when we go on deployments overseas. Quickly, when you’re
ashore, then you work Monday to Friday. I actually do nine-day
fortnights, so I get a three day weekend every second
week, which is awesome. Army don’t get that. When we’re overseas, because I
wasn’t actually a permanent posting to ship, I didn’t go
through and get my officer of the day ticket, or anything
like that. So really once we pulled into
harbour, I was basically free to go off, and do whatever
I liked within reason. In the trip we did around Asia,
we’ve generally got about three or four days
in each place. Once we arrived, sometimes I
had a bit of work to do. And there were a couple of
instances where there was people from other Navies. I saw a couple of English
people, and a few Canadian people in after hours. We can’t always see them
when we’re at sea. We help them out a little bit. But for the most part, we got
shore leave for the whole time we were there. In terms of the normal
lay provisions, then you do get 20 days. You get your four
weeks a year. You get four weeks, same
as most people do. One of the benefits that you
have though, is your CO, your commanding officer, has the
discretion to grant you additional leave at the
conclusion of exercises, and stuff like that, if he believes
that you’ve done extraordinary amounts
of overtime. And on exercise, you
invariably do. You get a minimum of 20
days leave a year. You’re also entitled to long
service leave after 10 years. And if you do do a lot of sea
time, you accrue additional sailor leave. So the guys that are permanently
posted to ships, they get, I think, six weeks
of leave a year. It all adds up. Cool. Last couple of questions, now. Helen asks, what has been the
most challenging work environment where you have
had to perform dentistry? I’ve got a classic here. I think probably the most
challenging environment was probably out last
year at Pukatja. And that was to do with the fact
that we were working in a converted child-minding centre,
which was not exactly the cleanest place when
we first got there. We had to clean it up. And it was challenging because
of dealing with the patients that we had. They were a nomad population. Because the aboriginal community
tend to move around a lot, within a specified
area, though. And you couldn’t guarantee that
if you started treatment they would come back to
have it completed. So you had to, as much as
possible, try and get the definitive work done in one or
two sessions, preferably on the same day. Doing dental work in the field
can be challenging. But again, the gear we’ve got
makes that no harder than it should be in a normal
working environment. What’s challenging about being
in the field, though, is all the extra tasks that get thrown
on you, like ding pickets, and all that
sort of stuff. You don’t have to do that when
you’re at sea, though. But we do. And building the hospital,
because you’ve got to build your own hospital, that
was also hard as well. On a ship, the only real
difficulties is that you have quite a small area to work in. Because we are sitting there
with the mobile, we usually find a little corner of the
ship for us to set up in. Last time when I went
away we were on the side of the sickbay. So it is quite cramped. And you do have to be a bit
versatile in how you work. Trying to avoid to do things– for example, generally try
not to do extractions when you’re at sea. Because obviously if something
goes wrong, you’ve got no backup there. You can’t just quickly rush
them off to see an oral surgeon and let them
fix it up for you. It is a little challenging,
obviously with the ship moving around, as well. That can make things
interesting. Try not to do stuff when
it’s too rough. I was very lucky, because we
went up Southeast Asia once we go out of WA, and up into
the archipelago. It was like working in a lake. The only time the ship moved
around was when they were doing air warfare exercises. And the senior officers like to
drive very fast and do lots of corners. [INTERPOSING VOICES] That’s kind of annoying. But I didn’t really
find it too bad. I think because we’ve been doing
this for a while, the set-up we’ve got is designed
almost to take out anything that would make life too
difficult for you. You have got everything there,
with the exception of a lab. You can pretty much do
everything at sea that you’re going to do at home. Next question. Blake asks, how has your time in
barracks compared with your time on the sea? It’s pretty similar. When you’re at sea, the day
works a bit differently. You’re very much run by
the ship’s routine. So the ship will programme in
damage control exercises. I very quickly found out when
you’re pulling into a port somewhere that you can basically
write off that day. Because that’s a whole
ship exercise. Everyone’s busy. No one particular wants to
come to the dentist. So I just cancel patients. When you’re ashore, you
work your normal day. You see maybe be a little bit
more variety of cases. When you’re at sea the focus
is mainly on getting the individual readiness up. That means that everyone
on board– everyone in the Defence Force
has to have a dental checkup once a year. We have statistics that
they have to maintain. Basically when I was at sea I
was working to make sure that everyone on the ship had been
seen, and then do all the work that could be done while
you’re at sea. The difference when you’re
ashore is that you have your set working hours, and you just
work within those limits. Whereas when you’re at sea,
you’ve got to work around ship’s programme, and coordinate
things with what the ship’s doing. I guess the comment I’d add back
there is it’s a little bit similar for us. There are occasions when if the
unit is deploying at short notice, then your workload
will increase quite dramatically for a very short
period of time, and again when they come back from
deployment. Because if the deployments are
nine months long, you’re pretty much due to
see them again. So you do have [INAUDIBLE] in your workload there. But mostly working at the
[INAUDIBLE] center, we start at seven in the morning
or before, most days. There are times when
it’s beyond that. But that’s unusual. Blake asks again, Michael, when
speaking of assisting ground forces, what role do
dental officers play? Our role, essentially, is to
make sure that people are able to deploy free from dental
disease, so that they can actually do their job in their
operational role, free of any problems with their teeth. Historically, one of
the reasons why– certainly in Australia’s case–
we’ve have to withdraw people from the field– this goes back to World
War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam– was because of dental
problems. And that was one of the reasons
why we now have dental officers in uniform. Because there were so many
people being withdrawn from the field because of
dental issues. Admittedly, back in those days
the standard of dental hygiene wasn’t as high in the general
communities as it is now. And you would expect to see
fewer of those cases. But we still have a surprising
amount of that sort of things that we see, particularly
in new recruits. So that’s the essential role. On deployment, though, you can
be called upon to do a range of other things, as well. For example, working the field
hospital environment like I was last year, you can be
called upon as a dental officer to do triage
for incoming cases. These are people who have
general injuries, not just dental stuff. And I did that on exercise
last year. I’m also trying to lead a resus
team in resuscitation bay, a job that’s normally done
by a nurse or a doctor. Because we have medical
training, we can be trained to do that, as well. There’s extra training that
you have to do to do that. You’d obviously not going
to be the first– No, just going to get
training there. You’re not the first person
they’re going to call upon to do that. But if you’re looking at a mass
casualty scenario, that can be something you’re
called upon to do. Apart from that, in the units,
like the one I’m in now, there’s a range of other tasks
that need to be done. Like I said before, I’ve been
trained to deploy [INAUDIBLE] in the field. And I can assist
in doing that. There’s a whole range
of things you can be called upon to do. As well as that, let’s face it–
any enrolled soldiers, you can find yourself–
and I have done– many gun pit, late at night,
pulling your shift as part of security picket. That sort of stuff is
not uncommon either. And boy, that’s fun at three
o’clock in the morning, I can tell you, when you’re tired. There’s a whole range
of things you do. But the central role of
being a dentist is all about oral health. And that’s our main focus. Trying to prevent people
from having problems while they’re away. It’s all about controlling and
preventing dental disease. Any other comments you’d
like to make there? OK, last question. Madeleine P. asks, what advice
would you give to someone who’s considering a dental role
in the Defence Force? That’s a very big question. It’s a big question. I would probably say, to start,
make sure that you’re doing it for the right reason. Really look into it. And make sure that you’re
willing to accept that you might have to go away,
and that you want to be a part of it. There have been a few cases
where people have joined in more for the support that they
have at uni, which is definitely a great benefit, and
an excellent draw card. But don’t do that as the only
reason you’re doing it. But I think it’s a great job. Just make sure that
you look into it. And if you can, try and
go down to the bases. Go and have a talk to people. Just find out as much
as you can. I’d back that up. I think the key thing is have
realistic expectations about what you’re going to face. And go about it for
the right reasons. Don’t expect things that just
can’t be delivered. Remember that you’re joining a
large governed organisation. You’re going to have
to fit into that. They won’t necessarily change
to suit you, if you want a certain level. Make sure you get fit before
you go to basic training. That’s the next thing. The fitter you are when you
join, the more pleasant your experience will be. It’s just a fact of life. It’s an expectation that we
have and something that we all got to do. If you can, by all means, go and
have to talk to people who are doing the job. Go and have a look at the
military operation actually at work, and you’ll get a much
more realistic view. What sort of job you’re
going to be doing. What it’s like. That was our last question. Then I’ll call it quits there. Thanks for joining us. We’ve had some really
good questions. Thanks for the questions
you’ve brought us. They’ve actually given us a
chance to share experiences with you, and actually pose some
challenges in answerin them, as well. If you’d like to watch tonight’s
broadcast again, it will available online
next week. Thanks again, and have
a great night. Bye.

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