Connected Conversations | Kyla Burman

Associate Lecturer Kyla Burman’s interdisciplinary teaching practice encourages her oral health rural placement students to think laterally about their learning. Putting a spin on their ‘Whyalla Experience’, she guides them towards the next step in their clinical practice while promoting student awareness around rural employment post-graduation.

Kyla Burman standing next to handrail by the beach

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Kyla and I’m an associate lecturer at the Adelaide Dental School (ADS), currently located in Whyalla on the Eyre Peninsula.  I am a clinical educator for our final-year oral health students on rural placement. Together, we see patients at the Whyalla Oral Health Centre and have co-created oral health promotion projects to support a variety of community groups.

Our oral health students have participated in rural interprofessional education activities with allied health students also on placement. From these modules, we co-created interprofessional development sessions and referral pathways for local allied health clinicians treating patients in aged care facilities and the paediatric department at Whyalla Hospital.

I am especially proud of enhancements to the ‘Whyalla Experience’ for our amazing students as they navigate through this aspect of their clinical practice.  We participate in local social activities in each orientation, including a treasure hunt and attendance to numerous community events, such as the launch of the new jetty, local festivals (including Whyalla uneARTh and Cuttlefest), quiz nights, and more.  Not only have we aimed to improve student experience during their stay, but also student awareness around rural positions of employment upon graduation.

How did you get to where you are today?

I was an executive member of the Dental Hygienists’ Association of Australia, and teamed up with the Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists’ Association of Australia and staff from the Adelaide Dental School to plan the ‘10 Years of Oral Health’ celebration.  During that partnership, I was invited by a current ADS staff member to consider part-time clinical tutoring. I had enjoyed clinical work in private practice for eight years but it was lovely to be recognised for my potential in clinical education.  I loved tutoring from my very first lesson.   

As other tutoring opportunities became available at the ADS I began formal study in clinical education and slowly reduced my private practice work.  I was lucky enough to be offered an opportunity to relocate to Whyalla in 2019 tutoring our amazing oral health students.

What are you working on now?

I have a special interest in co-creation and am investigating (whether I’d like to formally investigate!) the phenomena of co-creation and its potential for meaningful learning and teaching.  I also recently co-authored and published my first paper with two oral health colleagues and mentors. If you’re interested the publication is called:  ‘Student-driven partnerships enhancing oral health literacy’ .   

What would you say to your 18-year-old self, commencing their time at university?

  • Give it your all. The more effort you put in, the more you will get out of each opportunity.  
  • Follow your instincts in choosing which path to take. 
  • Remember there will always be challenging times but embrace these as opportunities.  

What do you love most about your job?

I have always felt tremendous satisfaction in supporting patients to achieve improved health outcomes.  Clinical education enables me to do this whilst simultaneously supporting our students in achieving their own goals.  It’s an honour I’m able to contribute in some way.  

What do you love most about working at the University of Adelaide?

I love working with such an innovative team at the ADS.  Many of the staff had mentored me throughout my own oral health studies and transition to clinical education and I’m eager to contribute to their winning score.  My role in Whyalla has enabled us to continually implement and evaluate innovations in oral health practice and clinical education, which is really exciting.  I also enjoy being able to combine clinical practice, community engagement, and research opportunities in my Whyalla role. My personal and professional growth has been tremendous.

What do you do in your spare time?

I enjoy spending time with my partner, our kittens, Ted and Rich, and our families, often indulging in food and wine and some travel.  We visit our family holiday homes on the river and I’m finally learning to wakeboard!  My re-location to Whyalla has afforded regular visits to the gorgeous towns and beaches on the Eyre Peninsula; we are so lucky in South Australia. Our next trip is back to Port Lincoln and Coffin Bay, plus our first experience in Streaky Bay and Elliston.

What are your hopes for 2021?

Health, peace and happiness for every living creature around the world… and a top eight finish for the Crows!

Name three things you won’t forget about the past year…

  • Nothing is impossible with effort, innovation, teamwork, and flexibility.  

  • The comfort in being able to wear tights to work each day!

  • The happiness and safety of being at home with my three extra-special men.  

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