As a teen Alison benefited from some impressive dental treatment at a dental practice in Penzance where her Auntie worked and she went on to complete work experience there whilst at school. She was so inspired that she continued working on their reception desk during school holidays!
The following year, upon leaving school aged 16, Alison sought an on-the-job opportunity. She secured a Training Credit Scheme (TCS) place at another Penzance practice to pursue dental nursing, studying at the Truro Postgraduate Centre whilst working. She successfully qualified aged 18 and continued working at the same dental practice for 8 more years whilst developing her dental nursing skills and experience such as in radiography.
After the birth of her daughter, Alison returned to work on a flexible basis experiencing increased responsibility and further development in her role, including the training of new dental nurse team members in practice. She was thus naturally positioned to take a lead on practice compliance and developing and implementing a formal dental nursing training framework – excellent grounding for what was to follow!
Being highly ambitious, Alison spotted and secured an opportunity to work at the University of Plymouth Peninsula Dental School, opening a new facility at the Knowledge Spa in Truro in 2009. She was part of the small operational ‘set up’ team before successfully welcoming the first cohort of dental students there in January 2010.
Alison remained working there until late 2014 when she secured a Clinical Lead Dental Nurse role with Smile Together based in West Cornwall, where she lived, covering multiple practice locations including on the Isles of Scilly. It proved an exciting time to join just as the business was transitioning from Trust ownership to an independent employee-owned community interest company. Alison stood as one of the first elected representatives for what is now the Shareholder Impact Board, engaging with fellow employee-owners to ensure they have a genuine voice in the business.
That voluntary role gave Alison great insight into the wider business of Smile Together and she began supporting other managers with operational duties such as organising the out of hours rota and implementing new operational systems, which she absolutely loved. It wasn’t long before she moved into more clinical operational management, initially alongside her Clinical Lead Dental Nurse responsibilities but eventually becoming Clinical Operations Manager in 2017.
Naturally, as Smile Together matured and developed as a business, career opportunities within the company were evolving. Alison found herself increasingly involved in innovative service improvements, even leading on some such as special care waiting lists and referral services, generally finding new and better ways of delivering patient care and reaching out to support local community initiatives such as Cornwall Health for Homeless.
This has seen Alison progress into a formal Outreach and Nurse Development Manager role to drive further enhancements in community outreach and social impact, contributing to Smile Together’s mission of tackling oral health inequality, whilst creating uniquely rewarding career opportunities for clinical colleagues.