The “Day in the Life” series gives us a glimpse into the working lives of the people we don’t often see or think about, but who play an important role in keeping our community running.
While her kindergarten classmates were dreaming of becoming ballerinas, astronauts or superheros, Rhoda Berne pictured herself as a dentist. Even as a little kid she knew she wanted to help people and bring smiles to their faces.
That was Wauchope Public School, circa 1995. After completing her schooling at Wauchope High School followed by six years of diligent study at Charles Sturt University in Orange and work placements across western NSW, Rhoda has come full circle to make that vision a reality.
Rhoda has worked as a Dentist at Sundial Dental in Port Macquarie since she graduated in 2013, and before that as a dental assistant and receptionist while studying.
Rhoda has always been interested in the human body and likes the fact that dental and gum care can make a difference to a person’s overall health and wellbeing.
Rhoda says that dentists need to be patient, comforting and warm. They need to work well in a team, problem-solve and have a good eye for detail.
“Most importantly, you need to be empathetic. Anyone who has ever had a toothache can tell you how debilitating the pain can be,” Rhoda said.
Negative perceptions about dentistry abound, and it can be challenging when people have preconceived opinions because of bad experiences elsewhere.
Rhoda regularly hears people say, “I hate going to the dentist … no offence”. No offence is taken, and she actually enjoys helping dental-phobic patients overcome their fears to come through a procedure and say, “That wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected”.
A dentist’s day involves a mix of routine treatments such as fillings, check-ups, tooth whitening and treating dental emergencies. Rhoda also carries out more complex work such as crowns, root canal treatment and orthodontics.
At Sundial Dental, Rhoda works with the latest dental technology such as CEREC same day crowns, Invisalign teeth straightening, and LANAP laser gum therapy. “I’m fortunate enough to work under Dr Peter Elfar and be able to utilise his vast experience. He has been a great mentor and has inspired and supported me in broadening my knowledge and skill set.”
She has also made friends for life with her colleagues and enjoys catching up with them outside the workplace.
“The best part of my day is by far the patients. Having a chat with them, getting to know their stories, learning about their lives. The worst part is seeing children in pain because most dental diseases are preventable and avoidable with the right education,” Rhoda said.
It’s true that prevention is key. “Coming in for regular check-ups is the best thing you can do for your dental health. If we can pick up potential problems early, then you can avoid more serious issues. The worst thing you can do is wait until you have a toothache before you see your dentist.”
6:30am – Wake up with a coffee and take my French Bulldog for a walk. 8:00am – Arrive at work; group huddle with my dental assistant and reception staff to prepare for the day.
8:30am – Treat my first patient with a routine filling. The morning is spent seeing patients for general check-ups, routine appointments and emergency work.
11:30am – CEREC appointment to provide a patient with a single-visit, same day crown.
1:00pm – Lunch at Sushiko and coffee from Social Grounds. I’ll often work through my usual lunch break so other patient’s appointments aren’t delayed.
2:00pm – More drilling and filling.
3:15pm – Turn the ceiling-mounted TV onto ABC Kids ready for my afternoon appointments, which are mainly school children.
5:00pm – Finished with last patient, write up my treatment notes, and debrief with my assistant.
Interview by Michelle Newman from www.newmancommunications.com.au
This article was from issue 116 of Greater Port Macquarie Focus.