From Military to Island Dentist with Smile Together
After qualifying from Birmingham in 2002 and completing my vocational training within the military, I practised as a Senior Dental Officer across the UK and British Forces in Germany and Bosnia, developing dental skills in neurolinguistic programming, dental hypnosis and the use of sedation in addition to routine dental care. Following an operational tour in Iraq, I was rewarded with both Brigade Commanders and Surgeon Generals Commendations for outstanding contributions towards maximising the dental health of military forces.
After successfully completing a full time MSc with distinction in Endodontics at the Eastman Dental Institute, I took on a tier two endodontic referral role within the military which allowed me to gain further experience as part of a multidisciplinary dental team managing the most complex dental cases.
Beyond the military I worked in private endodontic practice and dental implant practice after undertaking a Postgraduate Diploma in Implant Dentistry at ICE (Salford University) 2018 allowing me to offer the best restorative options for the patients within my care.
Moving on from the military after more than twenty years’ service did seem a little daunting but my transition into working for Smile Together was very straightforward.
As an employee-ownedCommunity Interest Company there is a real emphasis at Smile Together on employee wellbeing and the delivery of high quality, predictable dental care, as is present within the military. The company’s structure has parallels to the military chain of command and, like the military dental service, there is an emphasis on active prevention and oral health promotion. This is great because, in addition to providing the highest quality dental care, I have a genuine interest in preventative focussed dental care.
As a military dentist I expected that moving into an “outside practice”, even on the Isles of Scilly, would mean that I would be ‘chained to the dental chair’ but I couldn’t have been more wrong! I have been actively supported in getting out and about delivering Oral Health advice in local schools, old people’s homes and parent and baby groups, with Smile Together even funding my visits by boat to satellite school communities on some of Scilly’s smaller islands. Not only are you encouraged but you’re recognised for what you do here and I was thrilled with my National Smile Month award win in 2021!
In terms of work-life-balance the opportunity to live on the Isles of Scilly has been fantastic – like Cornwall as a whole, it’s idyllic with a fun, outdoors lifestyle which is especially great for kids. The relocation package offered by Smile Together paid for the full cost of our house move so it felt like just another military move. Additionally, working and being part of a community here on the Isles of Scilly is similar to being a military dentist on a large Army camp were everyone knows you are “the dentist”. Thankfully without the salutes and need to wear a beret when I’m cutting about the Island of a lunch time though!
As my military service was salaried it’s been reassuring to move to another salaried role and the ability to build a second NHS pension is also valuable. The wider employee benefits package includes paid-for CPD, GDC registration and indemnity insurance, plus the opportunity to be a shareholder and genuinely engage in the business. This is much appreciated as is Smile Together’s interest in Audit, Peer Review and lifelong learning which I’m used to being involved with from my time in the DPHC Dental.
Overall Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are a great place to live and Smile Together is a fantastic place to work. I’d definitely recommend military dental service leavers consider joining Smile Together as a next step after leaving the MOD.
You can read more about my move to Smile Together in 2020 here.