All the strong women in my family have always had kick-ass jobs. I have two aunts who are dentists, my mum is a doctor and I was lucky enough to have parents who cared about investing in my education.
Seeing my aunts work with their patients inspired me to choose dentistry.
You could say I had a little help deciding - being so close to women who were leading their practices and at the top of their game has undoubtedly shaped my story.
I wanted to be happy and creative in my job just like those great female influences in my life.
I qualified from Manchester in 2009, and won a post working in Wirral for my VT where I saw a lot of patients with high dental need. I worked in various practices before setting up
Smileworks Liverpool in 2013.
Smileworks was founded 34,000ft above the ocean on a Virgin Atlantic flight. My now fiancée and I got talking about how dentistry was rarely delivering real excellence and how the focus seemed to be drifting away from the needs of the patient and towards the needs of the dentist.
I wanted to deliver the very best of care for my patients and we wanted to deliver gold-standard work all of the time. I wanted to work with the best people who care about their patients and colleagues. I felt this would be difficult to achieve under the constraints of the NHS dental contract.
We thought the best way to fix this was to design my own practice which nurtures great minds that share all the same values and goals.
We went about setting up a new practice - from nothing. The banks wouldn’t touch us with a barge-pole because we weren’t backed by NHS contracts, and setting up a ‘squat’ practice during the recession was getting us laughed out of meetings.
Thinking outside the box
But we didn’t take no for an answer. Nothing wiIl stop me from having my dream practice. Without investment, we couldn't afford dental equipment. So, thinking outside the box - we founded an aesthetic practice. We eventually got funding for our first dental chair in 2015 and things snowballed.
We doubled in size in 2015. This year, in 2018, we will be a six-surgery private practice and grown to a team of 26. We’ve been able to achieve this because I am belligerent and I don’t take no for an answer. Currently, my main focus of practise is Aesthetic Medicine. I love the creative and artistic side of it. I completed an MSc in Aesthetic Medicine with Distinction in 2016, and it’s expanded my scope of practice and made me a safer practitioner.
CPD and learning is extremely important to me. It’s part of our culture at Smileworks. My other areas of interest are Orthodontics and Endodontics. I started the MClinDentOrthodontics course at BPP in 2016 and am about to finish my PGDip in Endo at the University of Chester this year.
In private practice, there’s no excuse for not being the best practitioner you can be. This is why we take such pride in further learning and have a reputation for being such highly qualified professionals in our practice.
The need for female influencers
We’re seeing more women in dentistry today and this is fantastic. I’ve been very lucky to have strong female influencers who’ve given me the confidence to move forward.
We’re taking over Capital FM and celebrating
International Women’s Day because not every woman has the same opportunities I did. Girls, young women and dental students all need to see and hear about the success we’ve had and see that it’s possible for them to achieve it too. I love working in a team of predominantly women in what has been traditionally a male-oriented industry. Dentistry can be such a great career for women and offers so many opportunities. We work together and we work constructively at Smileworks to achieve greatest outcomes for our patients. We do also have men in our team, because at Smileworks we choose our people based on their ability and whether they share our values for patient care. This makes for a healthy, happy and collegiate team.
So the advice I’d give to younger dentists is never give up. There are extraordinary challenges and opportunities in dentistry (and life) in 2018 but this means you’ve got to make yourself extraordinary to tackle them. Part of our drive on International Women’s Day 2018 is showcasing our amazing team and hopefully inspiring others to step up. I would advise everyone wanting to pursue a serious career in dentistry to get a mentor. Whether that be for a specific field in dentistry or just a sounding-board for all things in life and teeth - it’s a must have. What may seem like a great idea to a young dentist - may in fact be a recipe for disaster!
I wish I’d had more mentors straight after qualifying to sound off about how I felt and what I thought. Our team is very open to mentoring young dentists - if you want to talk, we will make time for you -
just get in touch! I love hearing from newly-qualified dentists and in the practice we are big into idea-sharing and helping one another out.
Courses are very important, but don’t think that just because you’re not a qualified implantologist twenty minutes out of university, you’ve failed in some way. Don’t forget the dentistry that’s right in front of you, every day.
Patients need your care in the first instance, and it is your responsibility to be the best you can for them.
Private practice owner