‘The Importance of Mentoring’
I think it’s fair to say that my dental career has been a little different, I don’t come from a professional family, I didn’t want to be a dentist from a young age, I was not a high flier at school and I don’t have ‘A’ Levels. School did not inspire me and I didn’t get the bug for learning until after I left school and began day release and night school. My decision to enter dentistry was more happenstance and the result of a number of events in my life that meant I had to react and make choices. Perhaps you could say my career in dentistry was reactive rather than proactive. That said, I love my career and dentistry has been (and still is) a great passion for me. At this stage of my career I am fortunate enough to choose only what I wish to do, if something does not interest me or if it’s ‘same old, same old’ then I say no. Amazingly there is still plenty that does interest me and gives me a buzz, so I don’t think I will be stepping away any time soon. It could be said that I have been lucky and that might be true, however I prefer to think that I have taken opportunities when they came along and been prepared to take on roles that didn’t at first glance seem career enhancing. Think data protection officer, think Y2K project manager. I believe I have a talent for ‘translating’ and most of everything I have done I have been able to ‘re-cycle’ and re-use in dentistry.
Before dental school I was a medical laboratory technician for some years working first in Haematology and then Cytogenetics. Then in the late 70’s I went to the University ofBirmingham Dental School and graduated in 1983.I was fortunate to apply to Dental School at a time when older students from non-traditional backgrounds were welcomed. I was also fortunate to be a student when grants were available. Without those two advantages I would not have been able to be a dental student and become a dentist.
Currently I have a portfolio career and have done for many years, I like variety and challenge. I am an Education Associate for the GDC and also Registration Assessment Panelist for the GDC; a coach for the Professional Support and Wellbeing Unit, HEE Thames Valley; lead clinical tutor for BUOLD, University of Bristol; Trustee of the Dentists’ Health Support Trust; Honorary Fellow, The Society of British Dental Nurses; Member of the Dental Advisory Board for Cambridge Scholars Publishing; Director of the Dental Coaching Academy, Owner of Dentalia Coaching and Training Consultancy and co-founder of Dental Mentors UK. I am an author and I have had a number of articles published. Previously I have been a Clinical Director; Non-executive Director, CDS CIC; Associate Director of Dentistry, NCAS; Associate Postgraduate Dental Dean, Thames Valley and Wessex; Caldicott Guardian for the NHS Information Authority.”
Throughout my career I have been fortunate to meet the most generous and talented professionals who have guided and supported me. These days I know that I was mentored. The first such person was Barry Newey, my Junior School Headmaster, he helped me to see the importance of education, without him it is unlikely I would have worked hard enough to get into Grammar School. Bob Izon, District Dental Officer in Herefordshire was another who guided me and signposted me to get involved in ‘political’ dentistry. He gave me opportunities to shine but always gave support and encouragement when I most needed it. Over the years,many women dental professionals have been an inspiration to me and I am fortunate to have a broad network of talented women from whom I receive energy, wisdom and non-judgemental support.
In 2011 I completed coach training and also launched (as a sole trader) ‘Dentalia Training and Coaching Consultancy’ travelling all over the UK for a variety of organisations providing training and private coaching for dental professionals. In 2012 The Dental Coaching Academy was formed by myself and two non-dental colleagues. In 2014 we launched an on-line education centre to provide blended education for dental professionals in the UK and beyond. Since then we have developed and launched two postgraduate qualifications in Coaching and Mentoring with the Institute of Chartered Management. In 2016 a colleague and I launched Dental Mentors UK, an on-line directory supporting dental professionals who provide coach, mentoring. I have never been busier, nor more fulfilled, I love my career in dentistry and there is so much more I would like to achieve. So much to try, so little time!”My life in dentistry now is largely practiced under the umbrella of education, coaching and mentoring.
I am a firm believer that becoming skilled in mentoring and coaching is one of the most important skill a dental professional can develop. Whilst some are naturals most need training to develop full potential. Unlike most training, mentoring and coaching underpins all aspects of professional life and can also improve our personal relationships as well. I believe coaching and mentoring improves dentistry one conversation at a time.
I use coaching and mentoring in a formal way to support and guide dental professionals who have specific issues; whether that be making career decisions, working through remediation issues or personal development and excellence. I have used mentoring with individual professionals and also with teams.Dentistry can be isolating, having a mentor helps to guard against becoming isolated, everyone deserves a mentor.