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A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) dental student has been crowned the regional winner of a national dental skills competition.

James McParlane, a fifth year student on UCLan’s graduate entry Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) programme, was victorious in the fourth round of the competition, run by the 500+ year-old Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

The ground-breaking Dental Skills Competition 2015, sponsored by DENTSPLY, sees final year dental students from across Britain demonstrate their skills in a series of challenges. The competition begins with 16 rounds, one at each UK dental school, during which the students are asked to undertake complex dental work on a mouth mould, which is then anonymously submitted to the assessors who announce the winner a nail-biting sixty minutes later. 25-year-old James was thrilled to win the Lancashire round and said:

“I was initially shocked when they announced the winner of the regional heat, I thought the announcer or markers must have made a mistake! After it had sunk in I began to get excited about the prospect of travelling to Edinburgh for my clinical skills to be tested. However, I am now apprehensive of the final as I do not know anyone who has competed in the final stage so have no idea what to expect. Once I have completed all of my training and begin to apply for my first job I believe that having ‘regional heat winner’ of a dental skills competition run by such a well-respected institution on my CV will certainly make prospective employers look twice.”

I really enjoyed the challenge of a crown preparation on a maxillary canine. It’s a type of preparation I’ve done before, but never on a canine. It was interesting using a different set of burs because I had to approach my preparation in a different way.

Along with a certificate and trophy, James was awarded a travel and accommodation package to compete in the Grand Final in Edinburgh on 10 March 2016. At the Grand Final, the top 16 finalists, from across the UK, will be tasked to undertake a broad range of clinical procedures before determining who will be crowned the overall winner at the competition’s Grand Final Dinner.

Olivier Collet, General Manager of Dentsply UK and Ireland, added: “As dedicated partners to the dental profession and provider of innovative solutions ‘For Better Dentistry’, DENTSPLY has found a natural fit working alongside the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. The competition promises to be a challenging, yet fun, test of dental clinical skills. By entering the competition, these ‘clinicians of the future’ will see the support that DENTSPLY and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh can provide to them, at the start of and throughout their clinical careers.”

Second-place prize was awarded to 25-year-old Chris Ball, who grew up in Preston. Chris added: “I really enjoyed the challenge of a crown preparation on a maxillary canine. It’s a type of preparation I’ve done before, but never on a canine. It was interesting using a different set of burs because I had to approach my preparation in a different way. I enjoy supporting the university, particularly because it’s in my home town of Preston.”

As well as prizes being awarded to the winner and runner-up, all participants of the competition will receive a certificate of participation, as well as a year’s affiliation to the RCSEd’s Pre-Membership Dental Affiliate Network.

Chris Theobald | 20 January 2016