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AO Externship Report 2018: University of Toronto Student in Marseilles, France

“Aboslument Aucun Amalgam”
My Externship with the Alpha Omega Marseille Chapter

Contribution by Tineke Kruytbosch
University of Toronto Dental Student & AO Pi Chapter Member

IMG 20180815 WA0000When I was applying for the Alpha Omega observership program back in the spring, I never imagined that I would find myself, a few months later, in the south of France with a second family. Don’t worry, I don’t mean that I ran away from home – I mean that I was welcomed with open arms by the dentists of Marseille and Aix-en-Provence. They not only welcomed me into their dental offices but also into their homes with their families. A very special thank-you goes to Drs. Thierry Meyer, Andrea Heckler, and Stephane Abitbol who worked together to organize my two-week stay inIMG 20180815 WA0005 France!

Let me start with a disclaimer that I speak passable conversational French and non-existent “dental” French. Thanks to the patience of my hosts and of the many dentists that I met along the way, I am happy (and relieved) to report that the dental vocabulary is not that different. There were a few difficult words to learn (which were at first accompanied by much hesitation and stuttering on my part), such as “détartrage” for scaling, “fauteuil” for dental chair, and “ciment verre ionomère” for glass ionomer cement. But in France, we “prenons une radio” and “faisons un endo sur dent 16” just like in Canada.

I stayed with the wonderful Dr. Laurence Krief and her family for my first week in Marseille. I observed with Dr. Krief and her daughter Sharon at their general practice, with Dr. Natalie Assayag at her orthodontic clinic, and with Dr. Charles Levy at his oral surgery clinic. I saw many things that are the same as in Toronto (Nobel implants, GC glass ionomer, rubber dams, matrices) and a few things that are different (“absolutely NO IMG 20180815 WA0007amalgam”, as Dr. Krief put it – within minutes of picking me up at the airport). In our spare hours after work, the Krief family showed me the city the way only Marseillaise natives can. We ate pizza while watching the sunset over the ocean at the popular port in Vallon des Auffes, we explored the small fishing village of Goudes, and took a short boat ride to the Frioul island off the coast of Marseille. I can’t thank them enough for making me feel like a part of the family!

For my second week, I was welcomed into the home of Dr. Brigitte Benchimol-N’kaoua and her daughter Marion in the picturesque city of Aix-en-Provence. Along with the general practice where Dr. N’kaoua and her IMG 20180815 WA0008daughter work, I also visited Dr. Thierry Meyer’s general practice, Dr. Alain Benhamou’s general practice, and Drs. Camille Bailleul Vidal and François Vidal’s oral surgery clinic. I had the privilege to get a French language crash-course on the Cerec machine and watch five in a row of perfect wisdom teeth extractions at the skilled hands of Dr. Camille Bailleul Vidal. Outside of the dental office, I couldn’t believe how gorgeous it is in the small city of Aix-en-Provence! On their day off, Dr. N’kaoua and Marion generously took me on a day trip to the beach town of Cassis (a smaller counterpart of St. Tropez), where we ate lunch in the shadows of the towering stone formations called “calanques”. Marion and her friends showed me Marseille and Aix-en-Provence through their eyes, taking me to the historic neighborhood of La Panier, IMG 20180815 WA0009the beautiful art museum Mucem which looks out onto the ocean, and a secret bar hidden inside a pretend souvenir shop.

Reflecting on my incredible stay in France, I am eager to visit more dental communities and I encourage anyone who can do the same! We can learn so much from each other, and the beauty of belonging to Alpha Omega is that we belong to an international family of dentists, and we all speak the shared language of dentistry! I know that the differences in vocabulary are likely to be much greater than those I experienced between French and English, but with any luck, I hope that’s where the differences will end.



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