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8th March 2021 | Careers

Inspiring women in dentistry

Women aiming high!

Monday the 8th of March is recognised as International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

With NHS figures showing there is almost 10% more female dentists in 2020 than there were in 2009/2010, what better time than now to hear from some of the amazing women working across our practices….

Jenna Kistle – Maidwell Dental, Truro, Cornwall

Jenna Kistle – Maidwell Dental, Truro, Cornwall

“I decided I wanted to be a dentist very young as I saw it as the perfect career to combine my two favourite subjects- scienceand art. After nearly 4 years of being a general dentist in a few different practices and areas, I now love the job for many other reasons… meeting a wide range of different people every day, the sense of achievement problem solving brings and finally I love the ‘work family’ feeling you get which comes with working so closely to a happy dedicated team.”

Sandhya Sreecumaar – High Street, Bordon

Sandhya Sreecumaar – High Street, Bordon

“Dentistry has come a long way in the last century where a large proportion of the dental workforce today is female. We have come a long way since the first registered female dentist and first female president of the British Dental Association, Lilian Lindsay, who qualified in 1895 but had to study in Edinburgh because no English university would accept her. Today in England, women make up nearly half of the NHS dentist workforce!

I have always had an artistic flair and envisioned myself in a flexible career where I could make a difference to patients, and also be able to have a good work-life balance. That is what made me feel that dentistry was the right profession for me. I qualified from University of Leeds in 2012 and have since been enjoying my time as a general dental practitioner in Bordon, working with many nervous patients to achieve a smile they would be proud of. Apart from providing a range of aesthetic restorative dentistry, I am also an Appraiser for Health Education England Thames Valley and Wessex.

I work as part of an all-female practice team and it is the best working environment I could have ever asked for, having worked at Bordon for the last 8 years. Being International Women’s Day it is important to shine a spotlight on how much impact females have had in dentistry, and it is truly a celebration of women in our profession.”

Gina Harrap – Stanningley Road, Bramley

Gina Harrap – Stanningley Road, Bramley

“Following a cycling accident when I was 11 where I fractured my mandible and several teeth I spent a lot time with myfamily dentist and got to know her fairly well.

I went to a poorly performing school which didn’t have aspirations for things like dentistry or medicine. I happened to have a routine check-up with my dentist shortly after my GCSEs results and we chatted about my future plans/A levels etc. She told me I’d make an excellent dentist and basically made me come to do work experience with her at {my}dentist on Salisbury Road, Farnborough. Without her intervention dentistry wouldn’t have been on my radar.

I qualified from Leeds University in 2004 then after completing VT I went back to Leeds as a Restorative SHO, then Mid Yorkshire as a Max Fax SHO.

After returning to general practice I’ve supported and mentored many dental nurses and am about to start mentoring our newest dentist. I’ve also had the delight of 2 of my long-term female patients joining me for work experience and going on to qualify as dentists themselves.

I love that dentistry always has something new to try, I’ve appeared on children’s news programme Newsround giving advice on OHI and spoken at the BDA conference about my oral health work with the UK Hyperemesis Gravidarum charity.

I’ve been very fortunate to work with and be inspired by many great women in my career from my personal tutor at University Helen, my Max Fax Seniors Louise & Kate, Debbie my PM for 12 years at my previous practice, Suzanne who recruited me to {my}dentist and was more supportive then she’d ever know when my Dad was very ill, my current PM Kerrie & my Mum who always believed in me.

As my family dentist told me back in 1996 – dentistry is a great career for women.”

Rachel Otukoya – Headlands, Kettering

“My name is Rachael Otukoya and I am a dentist who thoroughly enjoys helping people restore their smiles confidence and ability to eat and drink confidently.

I went into dentistry because I love talking to people and helping them! Dentistry is so rewarding and satisfying, whether it’s getting people out of pain, teaching people how to care for their oral health or spending that little bit of extra time with a nervous patient, it all makes a difference.

In my career I have worked in hospital with adults with special needs, oral and maxillofacial surgery, done facial aesthetics, sedation and general dentistry, and the possibilities are endless! I cannot wait to see what’s in store for the future of dentistry and continue to champion women in the good and challenging times that a pandemic brings being on the front line.

Happy International Women’s Day!”

Wendy Thompson – Kirkby Lonsdale

Wendy Thompson – Kirkby Lonsdale

“I sit on the FDI World Dental Federation’s group about women in dentistry and they too are celebrating women in dentistry internationally with a conference this year. I find it fascinating to hear the ways in which gender equality differs around the world. In the UK we are at the stage where we have equal numbers of men and women training to be dentists and we have women appointed to some of the most senior jobs in NHS dentistry. This is not the case in all countries where women do not have equality of opportunity.

Our issue in the UK is something different. There is a reason that it seems to be acceptable for some within the profession to treat others with a lack of respect. It’s great that there are now programmes of work underway to understand and address these factors relating to all of the protected characteristics.”

Hayley Travers – Oakham

“Why I became a dentist…? If I’m honest I didn’t have a childhood ambition to be a dentist like most or a desire to fix teeth even. I just knew that I wanted to look after people!

My journey started when I was 18, I went off to university and trained to be a general nurse. I had a fantastic career and worked my way through the nursing ranks. I realised that my greatest asset was my passion to communicate with people.

I sat waiting for my dental appointment, anticipating the dreaded check-up (an inherited dental anxiety, courtesy of my mum!) I was greeted by a new dentist, he was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and had a genuine interest in me and my teeth.

Before long I found myself packing by bags and starting a new life embarking on a brand-new career in dentistry. Four long years at university and a new-born thrown in the mix and the rest is history.

Dentistry has given me lots of opportunities, my career has allowed me to move around the country and gain lots of valuable dental and personal experiences. I have developed interests in aspects of dentistry that I really enjoy, working with anxious patients, children and orthodontics.

Being a woman in Dentistry has enabled me to be resilient, technical, motivational, inspirational, autonomous, confident, efficient, humble, intuitive, a master of improvisation and surviving dentistry during a national pandemic!

Dentistry has given me the opportunity to have a good work life balance, flexibility to raise a family and achieve a good standard of living. I sit here writing this in the early hours with my baby boy fast asleep beside me! It’s been a challenging day at work, but I thank dentistry for giving me a great career, fulfilment and ambition for the best I can be for me and my patients.

Thank you to that dentist, I hope I can inspire another generation of great dentists.

Women in dentistry, we can really have it all!”

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