Spotlight: Philip Byrne
Graduating from Glasgow University in 2002, Philip established his own practice in 2010 and is building on his interest and expertise in implant dentistry
I don’t come from a medical family – my mum was a waitress and my dad, a hotel porter. Basically, I was 18, nearing leaving school, had a few months to decide, and I read that dentistry could be a career with good employment prospects. The five-year course attracted me too; I didn’t necessarily want to rush into a job.
How was dental school?
I strongly believe that through implantology you can really make a significant difference to people’s quality of life”
It was great. I studied at Glasgow from 1997. The first year was quite tough; very science-based and quite a transition from the levels of knowledge and expertise that you were used to at school. But after the first year, when you move into the head and neck and specific dental areas of study, I took to it naturally. It was an enjoyable time as well; in my third year I moved into a flat in the West End with some friends.
What was your ambition?
I thought I would like to work in private practice, and to do my VT in a private practice. I was very lucky in that I started with Dr Alistair Martin, of Martin Dental Care in Shawlands, in 2002. He was a really good trainer; an excellent clinician who spent a lot of time helping me to become a better dentist.
And from there?
I had always had an interest in surgery. So I did a six-month rotation at Leeds General Infirmary and Leeds Dental Institute, treating patients with facial trauma and oral cancer. It was a big contrast to general practice; it gave you a perspective on what a bad day is really like! It also gave me more confidence in dealing with patients who might have underlying conditions.
Then I worked as an associate with Dr Tariq Ali, at Bishopbriggs Dental Care. Tariq was fantastic; a great person to work and I was able to build on my interest in surgery in learning from him about implantology. I was with Tariq for seven years and during that time, in 2007, I undertook a year-long foundation course in dental implants.
Why establish your own practice?
It seemed the natural step to take. At the time, I wasn’t married and didn’t have children. It was an exhilarating experience. I opened Erskine Dental Care in 2010, and in October last year, we opened Dargavel Dental Care. It’s been an exciting journey.
What does the future hold?
As my career has developed, implantology is an area that I have been keen to develop. I first became involved with dental implants in 2007. In 2016, after deciding to advance my skills further, I did a Post-Graduate Diploma in Implant Dentistry at Newcastle University. I strongly believe that through implantology you can really make a significant difference to people’s quality of life. I also like working with other dentists, through referrals, and now I’m also mentoring dentists. As we grow this side of the practice, I’m looking forward to working with more dentists. I feel there’s a good combination in my surgical side of the process and supporting the referring dentist in restoring the implant. It nice for the patient to have their new tooth fitted by their own dentist and adds another string to their bow! I’m always on hand if they need help but, with the right support, its surprisingly easier than many people think.
And how do you switch off?
To be honest, at the moment, I don’t really switch off! My head’s always going; keeping up to date, and it’s been so busy with opening the new practice. Luckily, work can be flexible and I do like going to the gym; that clears my head, so I try and get there a few times a week – though obviously, at the moment, that’s not possible. Spending time with my wife Arlene and our wee girl Portia, who’s three-and-a-half, is great. Arlene has been incredibly supportive.