Practice makes perfect career
Young Dentist of the year Lara paterson had considered specialising, but the opportunity of working with the Clyde Munro team has allowed her to flourish as a committed and popular GDP
One of the biggest cheers that went up during the Scottish Dental Awards at the Hilton Hotel in April came from the Clyde View Dental Practice table. The Clyde Munro Dental Group treated its whole Helensburgh team to the event and they had good reason to be excited as three of them were up for nominations: Ciara Dunleavy and Chloe Gall for the Community Award; and Lara Paterson for Young Dentist of the Year – and all three won.
Lara said she was absolutely elated to win the prestigious award. She said: “It’s quite humbling to win, but wonderful too. As I have always tried to do my best every day, and it’s great to have this recognised by my peers.”
Lara’s journey into the profession started in 2008 when she entered Glasgow Dental School at 18 and braced herself for five years of hard graft.
She said: “I did not have much expectation from university, except for ‘all work, no play’, but the overall experience was much better than I expected.
“The staff and lecturers were keen that we also enjoyed ourselves, so the balls, field days and social activities really balanced the whole experience. It was particularly great because the staff joined in the fun with us, so there was great interaction and we got to know everyone very well. They were very good at encouraging us and driving us forward.”
While university was hard work but fun, finding a vocational training (VT) position brought her down to earth with a shock.
She explained: “When you have sailed through Highers and spent five years successfully passing exams and gaining a degree, you think you are invincible, so to not be successful getting a VT placement first time was a great shock.
“The problem was there just weren’t enough VT positions available, so I had to get used to my disappointment and carry on trying to find a place.”
Her opportunity came when White Cart Dental in the southside of Glasgow took her on at a VT, and it was a perfect match. Lara said: “It was a great practice and very supportive so I loved my time there and even stayed on as an associate for a while.”
Working full time, Lara appreciated the vital role of dental assistants. She said: “As a student, working with different nurses I did not fully appreciate the role, but when you work with someone day-in day-out you have to work very closely and you really understand how important they are to your work.”
A new opportunity came Lara’s way when Clyde Munro was looking to find a dentist for its Helensburgh practice, where the lead dentist was retiring.
Lara was under no illusions about the challenge ahead of her, as she explained: “The dentist had been in practice for more than 30 years and had built up a strong list; so here I was, a 25-year-old female ready to take over the patients of a 60-year-old seasoned male dental professional… but I won them over.”
Such was her commitment to the practice and popularity with clients that she was promoted to lead clinician. Since then she has overseen the expansion of the practice with new colleagues coming on board and managed a major refurbishment of the facilities without disruption to patients.
Lara is enjoying the role of a GDP, and she is glad she did not decide to specialise: “When I was studying I was quite keen to go into pediatric dentistry at some stage, but after working in general practice I think this is where I want to stay, as you get a good balance of adult and child patients. But one thing I would definitely like to do in the future would be to do some teaching or coaching; I feel that I have had such good opportunities that I would like to give something back to new dentists coming into the profession.”
What inspired you to go into dentistry in the first place?
My childhood dentist Katie at Cambuslang Dental Care. I used to love going to my check-ups and watching her treat my mum. She exuded enthusiasm, friendliness and compassion, and would roll around the surgery on her saddle chair and sing along to the radio. I like to think that singing along to the radio during appointments isn’t the only quality I have taken from watching Katie.
Who has been your biggest inspiration in the profession?
At university, all of the dental hospital staff were great role models. They were so driven and successful; it always made you eager to succeed in dentistry.
What’s the best thing about working at your current practice?
The great view outside the practice, overlooking Helensburgh seafront! No, definitely our team. They have been very supportive in helping me grow as a dentist and take over the patients of the previous dentist who had been here for 30 years.
If you could change one thing in the profession, what would it be, and why?
I would make local anaesthetic taste better, for obvious reasons.