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Pathways: Asha Thomson


Can you tell us a little about your career and the path you took to your present role at FoDOCS? 

My career path has not been the most conventional and has surprised me at times!

I graduated from The University of Glasgow after completing my BDS and completed my Dental Vocational Training year in Scotland before completing my Dental Core Training 1 (DCT 1) year in Glasgow within the disciplines of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Paediatric/Community Dentistry, after ranking 3rd in the Scottish recruitment process. My initial aim was to pursue a career in paediatric dentistry after being inspired at dental school by various tutors, but my interest in surgery further developed and I moved to Essex to complete my Dental Core Training 2 (DCT2) year in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery/Oral Surgery. I had the opportunity of completing a Clinical Leadership Fellowship in Oral Surgery with Health Education England where I was involved in project management and implementation on a regional level.

I then explored a portfolio career in dentistry and further pursued my interest in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery as a speciality dentist in OMFS, began my clinical teaching role in Oral Surgery at KCL and continued my ‘non-clinical’ leadership role with HEE and NHSE as a Senior Clinical Leadership Fellow in East Anglia.

After gaining further experience in surgery, education and leadership I held multiple roles including Cohort Director for The Healthcare Leadership Academy and also pursued several qualifications in sedation, clinical education and clinical leadership and human factors. After securing a sought-after place on the Oral Surgery speciality training programme, I declined this offer to pursue further study in Medicine and hold my current role within FoDOCS is a Senior Clinical Teacher in Oral Surgery and group lead for the BDS Humanities programme.

Not the most ‘conventional’ career pathway, but a pathway that has continued to challenge and surprise me. I hope for all those reading - I can inspire you to embrace the opportunities that come your way and to allow yourself to open new doors (even if they weren’t planned!). 

What, if any, challenges did you encounter along the way, and how did you navigate them? 

Challenges are a given throughout everyone’s journey! Navigating your mindset is what is important and the value of creating supportive networks cannot be undervalued. There may be challenges related to gender which I have experienced within both surgery and leadership – but navigating your female superpowers through the development of your self-awareness can allow you to utilise your strengths and improve on your weaknesses!

If you could, what advice would you give your younger self at the start of your career? 

There are going to be many hurdles, setbacks, and challenges ahead but that’s ok! Embrace these moments just as much as you embrace the opportunities and successes that occur, as the learning that can be gained from these moments can help shape your career journey.

Never feel pressured to rush your journey, as everyone’s path is unique and there are lots of doors waiting to be opened along the way – you have just got to try a few keys to unlock them!