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What’s it like being a... clinical fellow working in a busy oral medicine department? James Ashworth-Holland

Blog Author James Ashworth-Holland

Blog Date 01/03/2019

James Ashworth-Holland is a Clinical Fellow in Oral Medicine/OMFS at Bristol Dental Hospital. He tells us about his day…




My alarm goes off….

At 5am, and I'm out of the door and in the gym by 6am, fuelled by caffeine and a banana.

I'm lucky enough to be able to walk to work, so take in the sights and sounds of Bristol as it wakes up.


I'm responsible for…

I wear a lot of different hats day to day, sometime several all at once! I work with the Oral Medicine, Oral and Maxillofacial, Special Care and Primary Care teams at Bristol Dental Hospital as my day job. 


I got the job

I completed my FD training in Bristol, went on to do DCT1 in OMFS in the North-West and DCT2 in Oral Medicine back in Bristol.

My original plan was to work in community dentistry, but the opportunity arose to be a Clinical Fellow in Oral Medicine/OMFS for a year prior to starting medicine, which I thought would be a better fit in the short term, and that's where I am now.


My typical day

In oral medicine I see new and review patients with a variety of chronic conditions which require blood tests, biopsies and scans to get to the bottom of.

I carry out phlebotomy, swabs, biopsies, clinical photographs and prescribe various powerful medications. I also oversee BDS and hygiene and therapy students, testing their knowledge and understanding and giving them the opportunity to assess patients.

In OMFS I assist in theatre, carry the bleep and manage unwell patients on the ward who have undergone orthognathic, oncology or trauma surgery.

The job can be very stressful and hectic at times and requires good time management, situational judgement, and communication skills.

Pre-bone marrow transplant and patients due to undergo cardiac surgery are referred to the special care dentistry team to be assessed, and if treatment is needed, I carry it out or co-ordinate it- this usually involves close discussion with medical colleagues, as some patients require platelets, GCSF or antibiotic prophylaxis, and are typically quite unwell.

Evenings and most weekends I work for the NHS Out-Of-Hours service, looking after people of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset. I provide emergency care across three clinics, working with a fantastic team of dedicated nurses and administrative staff to give help to those who urgently need it.


The worst part of my job…

I don't get to follow up on some of the patients I see, so I miss being able to develop the trust and rapport with people that you can get in a general dental practice.


The best part of my job…

The best part is the sheer variety of patients I see, which really keeps me on my toes and my brain ticking over.

The various teams I work with are great to work with too, so being able to come into work and have fun is also a big perk.


After work…


I don't rest!

I'm a Trustee for the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses, a national educational charity dedicated to the advancement of education in dental nursing.

As a trustee I have overall legal responsibility for the charity, working with several trustees from a variety of lay and dental care professional backgrounds.

I attend board meetings regularly and provide input and support where able, directing the Chief Executive to carry out the best courses of action for the charity. This has given me a greater understanding of the wider legal and ethical issues which affect charities.

I'm also a Quality Assurance Education Associate for the General Dental Council. This role requires me to visit course providers and quality assure their programmes against the Standards for Education. This role can be quite time consuming, as providers send lots of in depth paperwork to sift through!

Working with the professional regulator has given me a deeper insight into the systems and processes in place which help to protect the wider public.

I also play rugby for an International Gay Rugby (IGR) team, with training on Monday and Thursday nights, matches on weekends and national and international matches. 


My Plan B

Is to study Medicine, and I already have an offer in place, which is very exciting! I'm really looking forward to this next stage of my career.

james-ashworth-holland-125-px.jpgJames Ashworth-Holland, Clinical Fellow in Oral Medicine/OMFS


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