After graduating from Edinburgh University in 1992, I took up a house officer position thinking I wanted to pursue a career in hospital dentistry. However,
I soon realised that my preference was for continuity of care and so started in general practice the following summer.
After two years, I decided to set up my own squat and there began the journey. At first I rented premises but, soon after I married, I moved the practice
to the basement of our house, which was very handy when my three kids were young.
Five years ago, I realised the property could not accommodate the decontamination room as required by the new Scottish guidelines, so we moved to our
current location in Glen Street, Tollcross. It is an old schoolhouse and, being on the ground floor and has wheelchair access. As it was modified for
purpose, it is a lovely premises to work in.
Since starting out, I have had further training in hypnosis, sedation, endodontics, occlusion and restorative (with BSOS) and implantology. I attained my
MFGDP in 2007. Most recently, I passed the Diploma of Implant Dentistry at the Royal College of Surgeons In Edinburgh.
Six years ago, I was referring all my implant cases out of the practice. But, encouraged by Graeme Lillywhite, I attended a year-long Astra implant course,
run by Dominic Hassell in Birmingham. I placed my first implant in 2007, with Robin Rother to mentor me. I have found that, as my knowledge has increased,
so too has the patient uptake of this amazing treatment modality.
The drive to maintain a fully functioning, healthy and aesthetically pleasing dentition will continue to encourage our patients to seek permanent,
tooth-like replacements for missing teeth.
Six months ago, I attended a study day run by the Royal College to encourage people to sit the diploma. As the study and case presentations are
self-directed, it makes the decision to present for the exam somewhat of a challenge – as life is always busy and there are nicer things to spend one’s
time doing than studying! The exam preparation
After attending the study date, I decided there was no time like the present and would sit the next diet rather than wait a year. I had only four weeks to
get four case presentations and my logbook ready, so the pressure was on.
Luckily, I had good photos, X-rays and models from quite a few cases, ranging from very simple, single posterior, to more difficult multiple cases
(pictured). I had to get each patient’s permission and write everything up in a professional, comprehensive manner, so it was quite stressful. I bought a
few good books (okay, eight!), then gave myself three weeks off in July and, once I returned from holiday, I knuckled down and followed the requirements
suggested on the Royal College website. August passed rapidly, September arrived and the three days of examination were upon me.
The written parts I found okay but the second day of 12 short OSCE stations in the morning, followed by two longer 15-minute stations in the afternoon,
were stressful and exhausting. By comparison, I found the final day straightforward and was just relieved it was over. The results were released a few
weeks later and I was delighted to have passed. It was made even better by the fact that I was the first woman in Scotland to have done so.
I have learned a great deal from my experience and would encourage others to take the exam. Over the years, I have enjoyed learning, and the great
camaraderie of colleagues in BSOS, BACD, SAAD and ADI, and would recommend others to get involved as working as a dentist can be isolating and it is always
good to meet up with like-minded professionals.
Why did I take this journey? One wants to test one’s knowledge against a set standard to ensure quality is been given to patients and to verify that the
work undertaken on a daily basis reaches an acceptable level, when compared with one’s peers.
In the longer term, if I want to accept referrals for other practitioners, or mentor colleagues, it lets them know that I have reached a certain point in
my education. Dentistry is a subject that is continually developing and I want to continually learn and test myself so that each step I take along this
lifelong learning pathway is taking my skills in the right direction.
Ultimately, it is the delivery of an end product to the patient that I can be confident will work and give them what they are paying for. I enjoyed the
studying much more than imagined, as it tied together things I learned 25 years ago as an undergraduate that I didn’t really understand.
Re-learning anatomy, physiology and bone metabolism is much more interesting when you have been treating patients for 21 years and can really grasp the
complexity of the human body and then utilise that knowledge to ensure long-lasting results.