Can you tell us a little about your career thus far and why you have chosen to study dentistry at FoDOCS?
I am currently a BDS4 dental student at King’s, prior to studying dentistry, I studied Anatomy, Development and Human Biology BSc also at King’s.
I chose to study dentistry because after personally needing many restorative procedures carried out in a short period of time in my adolescence due to poor dental education and subsequent poor oral hygiene. I experienced how overwhelming dental pain can be and how vastly important dental health is in people’s lives. I was inspired by the dentist's knowledge, manual ability, and supportive dental team to help me overcome this dental challenge and regain my ability to get back to my normal life.
What, if any, challenges did you encounter along the way, and how did you navigate them?
My journey to dentistry was not as straightforward as I had originally thought, and hoped, it would be.
My first challenge was trying to get work experience within a dental practice, which was vital at the time of my applications. I found that the vast majority of practices in my area refused to allow me to shadow their practice. Upon asking some of my peers how they had received work experience, many stated they used familial contacts to get their placement. This was hard for me as no one in my immediate or extended family or familial social circles were in the dental field. I found myself having to be more creative with work experience searches, having to travel extremely far for dental work experience and using other medical experiences as evidence of motivation, despite them being criticized for being not specific to dentistry enough.
My second challenge was the difficulty I was starting to face academically. Upon entering sixth form, I was finding it progressively harder to finish my exams on time leading to unanswered questions and subsequent drop in grades, which is particularly devastating for achieving good scores for exams, specifically the UCAT/UKCAT score.
This challenge led me to have extreme difficulty getting dental interviews despite my extensive work experience and extracurricular efforts. Upon voicing my difficulty to school staff, I was told that I needed to ‘try harder’. It was only until I had entered my first year of my first degree at King’s, when I voiced my challenges that I was told my issues aligned very heavily to signs of dyslexia. I was tested and confirmed for dyslexia within a few weeks and the extra time given in exams allowed me to once again achieve the top score I used to achieve in academic exams.
Dental admission tests like the UCAT/UKCAT were still extremely difficult for someone like me, despite the extra time, but I was able to achieve scores that would at least have my application considered by some universities, when before they were not.
The constant throughout these challenges was perseverance and the mentality to keep on going, to keep on trying. This doesn't mean I didn't experience negative emotions to these challenges. This means to keep persevering even through the bad and negative times.
If you could, what advice would you give your younger self at the start of your career?
Life is a marathon not a race. It isn't about getting to the goal as fast as possible. Everyone's journey looks different and the resilience that a long journey creates in you is a lifelong gift.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Embrace Equity’. What does equity mean to you, and how can everyone (regardless of gender) embrace it?
To me equity means considering people’s individual needs and adjusting appropriately so everyone can have the same experience. I think everyone can embrace this by doing the work to diversify the people they interact and learn from in person and online. Being able to understand the challenges that others face might give you the ability to identify how and if you can help.