My Induction Camp As A First Year Dental Officer

All u41 dental officers have to go through a four day induction which is like a camp of sorts and I have been among the chosen ones for this round! It would be awesome if all first year dental officers (fydos) can be here together but of course, come to think of it we can’t leave the clinics half empty throughout the country. There are 110 of us here this week in Kolej Sains Komuniti Bersekutu in Kempas, JB. The dental officers are from Johor, Malacca, Pahang, KL and Perak.

Apparently all future induction courses will be held here. It’s a really beautiful health allied sciences college and the hostels are really new and comfortable too. All officers in the peninsular will have their induction here which is carried out in batches. ALSO, good news to all government servants who will have to have their induction courses one day, the birotatanegara (BTN) has been cancelled forever since Jan 2011!! YAY!!!

The view from the sixth floor.

More hostels nearby.

The top of some of the faculty buildings.

Neighbouring hostels.

The carpark just outside our hostel block!

In a way, it is sort of like a camp as everyone is about the same age. There are only six of us from AIMST but we are trying our best to make as many new friends as possible.

Had dinner with Ee Chia, Steven and Cze-Yin on Monday night!

Pretty awesome to be able to pop out if you think the food’s gonna suck.

For me it feels really surreal to be called by the government to congregate at a place for four days because it just feels like national service all over again. I mean technically we are serving the nation but I couldn’t help feeling this overwhelming sense of nostalgia, walking back to dorms, i really felt like I was back in national service.

My schedule and my name tag.

I am always up for making new acquaintances and this is how it usually is when you go for a camp, you do not expect to see any familiar faces. The strange but awesome part is that I get to choose my room mate. It doesn’t even happen this way at a normal camp! So of course I would choose someone whom I have known for years, someone whom I have lived with for years and someone whom I have plenty of catching up to do with. So glad Cze-Yin is my room mate!

And this is a new friend I have made, Dhanya!

Lie Yuen, she’s pretty much your replacement. 😛

Because AIMST people band together.

But we did make some new friends. 🙂

Just a fraction of the 110 participants at the camp.

I was initially worried that I might have to share a dorm with six other girls or something. While it was fun, I don’t think I want to repeat what I went through during national service – sharing a dorm with 24 girls. But to my delight, our room is HUGE! Two to a room and so much floor space! There’s a conjoining toilet with our neighbour but it’s cool.. we made friends, we won’t steal each other’s shampoo. Albeit a little dusty, the bed is really solid and the ceiling fan is cold enough for us as we’re on the 6th floor plus it has been raining quite a bit. The lovely weather does remind me of national service where it was mostly cloudy as I went during the rainy season.

A lovely wardrobe for my so called ironed clothes.

Our two beds and the awesome floor space.

Cze-Yin chillaxing with my laptop.

On our way out to the first lecture this morning.

Another strange thing was that there’s no curfew for us. Most of us are probably still coming to terms with the fact that we are no longer students but real, proper, working adults. The security guards would wave us through and we’d be stunned while still in “Defence Against Security Guards” mode – a skill many of us have acquired as students who had to deal with fussy guards.

I remember in National Service, we would still have talks after dinner and we would walk to the cafeteria after a cool evening bath and settle in for an evening of superstitious or motivational rambling by some trainer.

I’m feeling particularly nostalgic about how I would whip out my notepad and pen to record every single moment that happened in national service while trying to deal with home sickness, making new friends and eating strange food.

In National Service, we were served five meals a day and it is no different here. Two hours of talk is followed by half an hour or one and a half hour of makan, another two hours of talk, another round of makan. We makan SIX times here.

In national service, if we skipped any makans, we were required to be in the cafeteria. But here we can adjourn back to our rooms and come out again when there was another lecture to go to. The room is in a perpetual state of coolness.

In national service, I arrived in a bus, without a single soul who could speak to me in English. I thought it was the most important trait to have back then. Fast forward 6 years and here I am, less of a banana and arrived in my car. Drove here straight after work and the feeling was …for lack of a better word…awesome. I just felt this vast amount of freedom to just up and leave anytime. Back in the day, camps meant a month of planning, liasing with friends, getting your mum to do some shopping for you. But now, I can just pack a few necessities, shop for some stuff and throw everything into my car boot and sing loudly to Fly FM for one hour plus before arriving at the campus where my induction is held.

When I went for camps, surely I would forget to pack something or I would realize that I really really could use with something. And I would never get it. I would then have to suffer in silence. But last night, we needed floor mats because the room was dusty and it flooded on my side of the room as we forgot to close the window. Out we went to a grocery store about 2km away, without feeling even the slightest bit of tiredness to stock up on some floor mats, toilet rolls and snacks. All because I had a car. I am in CAMP and I have my car here with me. I can say that over and over again.

I think the best part is that I have my favourite soft toy pillow here with me, my P1wimax modem here with me and my kettle as well. As I am quite high up, the speed is mad crazy. When I download movies, it’s like way faster than the speeds I get back home in Kluang.  I have never even been this well equipped at a camp.

While my colleagues have been very supportive of me for the past 5 months, I have never had the chance to meet so many FYDOS at once. I don’t feel like I’m in a working environment, it seems like university all over again because no one here is your senior (or in some cases, no one here is very much your senior).

I have three more days to go. 🙂 And then it’s Singapore for the weekend. Singapore’s like, 20 minutes away. How awesome does my camp get?!? Internet + Boyfriend Who Is 20 Minutes Away + Car + Cold Weather + Comfy Bed….I’m one happy cookie.

On A Day When We Felt Jaded

Someone and I were having a conversation on gtalk about how we feel about work. Although a professional, he feels small in the entire organization and feels like he is doing factory work day in day out. I tell him that I am no better, sometimes I feel like a cobbler. Fixing, making, cleaning.

Maybe because we both had particular long days which is why we are feeling this way but there’s like a stretch of 40 years of work before retirement. Is there such a thing as fresh grad syndrome? Where you feel jaded at times? I tell him that having goals in place will make our work more rewarding. A belief that I hope to hold on to as well.

While I feel my work is repetitive, at the same time I am plagued by the perpetual fear of not knowing if I know enough. It does eat at me. I know what I have to do, but there’s no exam to look forward to.. I need to be pressured into doing it.

I have roughly been through my career options in my mind a few times but all that would need money (furthering my studies, setting up a clinic…), I need to know what is best for me in the long run. What my priorities are. I can’t possibly be setting up a general clinic then running off to specialize after a couple of years, can I? But with only a few months under my belt, I really don’t know everything there is to know about this field.. I don’t really know what I want to do. I don’t really know if I should limit myself to a specialized field. I don’t know!

I believe it’s okay to have dreams in many places. You don’t have to have only one dream, one way of enjoying yourself. While it is important to have goals in your career, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the only thing you prioritize in life. As most of you would know, I really really enjoy my little sticker hobby-business. That’s a dream in its own. 🙂

I chose dentistry because I narrowed it down from the things I’d rather do. This was when I was 16 years old, burdened by the huge duty of having to make life changing choices. SPM and college times were so hard and confusing. 🙁 I knew very well that I hated physics to my very core, chemistry was nice, ahem, used to get the highest in class but was bombing chemistry in college, sometimes failing it too.. but I knew I had to do something science related.

I needed something that had no maths…no physics…no chemistry… sitting in a lab looking into microscopes… I’ve always liked biology in school. I liked how the human body worked. I actually wouldn’t have minded medicine but the long hours were the number 1 reason why I didn’t choose the field. Not like I confirm can get into med school also..ceh:P But dentistry provided me with all that. A chance to be in science, a chance to meet people day in day out and a chance to go home to make dinner for my family! I can be a professional AND a mother AND a wife! Yeah, so traditional at 16.

I really do..I really do like meeting people.

But sometimes, I sort of see why customer service people can’t provide customers with the most optimum level of services equipped with a smile. It has to be done. Especially now that the clinic has implemented a system for the patients to drop a yellow laminated smile in a box at the counter to rate our services. Sometimes there are very very difficult people to be dealt with. No matter how you reason, they don’t see the point in what you are trying to say.

Sometimes I wonder exactly how is my work rewarding? One patient might feel happy that he can now chew his chicken without any getting stuck in the cavity, another patient might feel grateful that her front tooth is replaced, another might finally get a good night’s sleep after the abscess has been removed. It does sound rewarding but it’s not epic. Unless the lama-lama jadi bukit thing holds true, then well, yeah.

An incident today did make me feel like I had a real purpose aside from fixing their teeth. 🙂 A patient was so so so so so so so x1000000 of coming into the surgery. I invited her to sit down but she just stood there rooted to the spot, not saying a word. I thought “Great, another patient with mental disabilities…….how should I approach her?” Then I saw tears forming in her eyes. And then I realized that it was a really great fear of going to the dentist. She said that everything dental related scared her. The chair, the tray, the door, the light….. the patient and I had a good laugh after I explained everything to her, trying to alleviate her fears. I made jokes, she joked back, we had a good rapport going on. 🙂 THAT was rewarding. To be able to change a person’s mind set, I think that is what matters most to me.

I guess at the end of the day it all boils down to appreciation. I want to tell that someone that it applies to him too. Appreciation for the things we do can go a long way.

I do wonder if all mid 20s go through such a period where they question where do they go from here.

But you know, I’ve a feeling that a couple of decades from now, we’ll all be well respected figures, solid and grounded with the odd cynicism here and there. We’ll be all right. 🙂