“This is Not Normal Stress,” Costa Rica Dental School Students Have to Find Own Patients, pay for Transport and Fees and Beg them to Keep Appointments.
A group of dental students from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) has raised their voice to denounce unfair treatment as part of their training. They report bullying by doctors, teachers, and administrative personnel, 13-hour day long internships and the stress of having to find their own patients on whom to perform 100 dental procedures or not pass. The students claim that they live in constant anxiety. If patients do not show up, withdraw from dental treatments before they are completed, or cannot pay, dental students receive no credits and are forced to retake the required courses the following year, the students reported anonymously to Costa Rica’s press, Hoy.
“A medical student should not have to chase after patients and call them the night before to beg them to keep their appointments or else we won’t graduate,” said a dental student who is completing a year and a half dental internship.
“I’ve gotten to the point where I even pay for my patient’s Uber ride,” claimed another student who did not want to risk missing the opportunity to treat a patient and get his credits.
“We literally have to hit the streets in search of patients and if we don’t find them, we pray so that they appear somewhere. And if we locate them, then we pray that they show up. I’ve personally called them the day before, offer to pay for an Uber and explain that if I don’t treat her, I won’t pass.”
The students have turned to social networks to narrate some of the situations that are contributing to high levels of stress that could prevent them from completing their training and earning their degrees.
When they approached the university’s administration for support with improving the circumstances that are causing them unusual stress, the students claimed they were dismissed and were told that the stress level they were experiencing was nothing new for a career in dentistry. The students told Hoy that they were told not to take their complaints to the press, but they refused to be silenced.
“This is not normal stress,” said one student. “We know what stress is. It is not normal to spend 13 hour days completing internships without a place to eat, where one is mistreated by doctors and admins, where you face the reality that if you don’t find a certain number of patients or your patients decide not to pay, return or let you know that they are not coming, you will be left in limbo to scramble for patients at the last minute,” commented another student.
At the end of their dental school training, students participate in an internship where they must complete approximately 100 dental procedures to pass, including cleanings, root canals, Crowns, among others.
To their list of concerns, students added administrative errors, lack of supervisors available while performing the dental procedures, humiliation by teachers in front of classmates, and having to assume the responsibility for the patients’ debts, among others.