Well where do I start……as an event/course organiser the last 10 months have been very frustrating and challenging to say the least.
It all started to unfold early last March when we were in Wales hosting the final 3 days of an Ortho PG Cert group. We’d all heard on the news for several weeks the unfolding story of the virus in China which had now spread to Europe, however I think I can speak for most of us, that none of us knew how this was going to pan out and the huge impact it would have on each and everyone of us.
As the second day started there were a couple of delegates missing, they’d sent their apologies and explained they’d be late but needed to speak with their teams/banks etc about putting measures in place. This sent a nervous ripple around the room ……should we all be doing something… Is this really happening?
We finished the 3 days said our goodbyes and I made my way home to Devon.
2 weeks later Lockdown began.
I still had 2 groups that had started the PG Cert in Orthodontics course and another that was due to start in October 2020.
Straightaway I got in touch with the group that were due with me for 2 days at the beginning of April, we’ll postpone these 2 days and hopefully resume teaching when your next days are due in June I told everyone. Little did I know at this point how many times I would have to do this.
That was the easy part.
Next there was the matter of hotel venues and lecturers.
Thankfully we now have an amazing group of lecturers who are very adaptable and communicate well with myself. However we did have the complication of Andrew being based in Scotland and there being a different set of rules for him, yes you can travel for work purposes but he has a business and a young family so again we wanted to take everything into consideration and make informed responsible decisions to keep everyone safe.
We also had the complication of that most of our courses being held in Wales, yet again another First Minister and rules to adhere to and the frustration of the hotel closing and everyone on furlough which meant no one easily to liaise with.
Our main concern was how to keep the 2 groups engaged and to support them through the next few weeks/months as many had already started to treat Orthodontic Cases. The team talked endlessly over zoom and emails to decide if it would be possible to move any of the learning online. After lengthy discussions it was decided that we need to stick to what we were good at and continue when we could with face to face teaching. We had our forum in place already so the continuity of advice from our Specialist Orthodontist’s for ongoing cases and possible cases to treat was still very much there for everyone. All of us across the team have taken phone calls or answered emails ASAP even on a Saturday afternoon/ Sunday morning. We’re a small team but everyone of us wanting to be able to support these delegates throughout lockdown.
We’ve done some bonus zoom meetings so they can continue to discuss and treatment plan cases within their own groups and briefly in September we were fortunate to be able to see both groups face to face for a session each.
We did have to change venues as Wales is strictly not allowing these types of events, by a stroke of luck we have found a fantastic new venue in Bristol which not only is a great location has the easiest events team to work with, a real pleasure for me working with someone who has the same way of thinking and communicates quickly.
Unfortunately since September we are now into the 3rd lockdown so teaching is on hold for the next few weeks until we can resume once it’s safe to do so.
We’ve scheduled a zoom day in next week for one of our groups and the other group will have a zoom meeting a few weeks later. Hopefully later this Spring we can continue with face to face and get these groups to finish their PG Cert.
Plans are still very much going ahead for this year with a new cohort starting in June for the PG Cert in Orthodontics, this is already half full after a flurry of bookings over the Christmas break.
As a team we’ve used the lockdown’s wisely and we have some exciting new courses that have been developed which we hope to roll out to you all over the coming months.
It’s encouraging to hear over the last few days that many of you have had your vaccines already so there is light at the end of this tunnel.
Keep safe everyone and looking forward to catching up with old and new faces as soon as we’re allowed.