They who dare .... Win!


In this article Annette Matthews shares her journey to…Finding my Therapy


At the OHC 2018, in Telford, Annette will be on the red sofa on the BSDHT stand ready and willing to meet colleagues to chat. Come along and feel free talk to her about any issues you have. Netty will try to support or advise you whether you are about to qualify, are newly qualified or have just lost your sparkle!



They who dare .... Win!

This is not my sob story: this is about a #girlboss in the making (didn’t know what that was till recently, but I like it)!

It’s about ups and downs and not knowing the answer to everything - it’s how I found and continue to find my answers.

You know what, it’s probably better titled WHAT NOT TO DO! The mistakes I have made have been a steep learning curve post qualification and I hope that by sharing my experience I can help others. So, here goes!

She who dares…

I firmly believe that if you want something hard enough you WILL succeed.

In 2009 I was a single mum aged 22 going through a divorce with an 18 month old daughter - really living the dream! I was working really hard as a dental nurse, because dentistry was, and still is, the profession I LOVE!

At the same time my friends were travelling the world and planning random Ibiza trips.

I decided to take an access to university college course, as I had no A levels, and applied to several universities - Sheffield, Leeds, Brighton, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham.

I got interviews at Bristol, Glasgow Sheffield and Leeds and obtained a reserve list notification for Sheffield’s April intake. I was also accepted at Glasgow for a September start.

There was no doubt in my mind - I was going, regardless of the challenges - be it North with a woolly hat on, or closer to home. And so I began house hunting in Glasgow at weekends.

Despite the obvious difficulties, I knew that we would cope - my daughter would adapt, and I needed to do this for me.

So here I was, a dental nurse and a mummy with all this going on, working in a lovely practice. I also had another major issue to deal with: I was grossly over weight. I had turned to food as a comfort and was in a horrible place.

When I finally got to grips with my diet and new lifestyle my new ‘safe zone’ was in surgery - either with dental hygienists or grumpy oral surgeons (sorry guys!).

The thought of uni and a career as a hygienist gave me the strength to blast the weight off. My lifelong nursing pals were a great support.

This was when I discovered I had control over what was going on in my life.

I COULD control the direction of my career - and you know what, that’s exactly what I did.

Fast forward to March 2011 and I received a call from Sheffield university asking me to start in two weeks time! I was absolutely OVER THE MOON!

Ok, it’s getting relevant now - there is a point to my story here, I promise!

Much of my time at Dental School is a blur actually - which is a shame. Although I do remember the important stuff. I can’t deny I needed to revisit a lot of CPD in that first year or two post graduation as my brain cells were absolutely frazzled. I believe the term is ‘saturation point’!

In particular that part where I qualify I remember well... I mean... there was prosecco after the ceremony...!

I do have vivid memories of chasing ‘friends’ for my last IDB targets or MOD amalgams. I happily remember when realisation dawned that I was allowed to ACTUALLY treat patients with no Mr P in our clinical sessions to look at me and give me “that look,” suggesting that I maybe had forgotten something or indeed could do better !

But there I was, a professional title under my belt and ABSOLUTELY no idea what to do next !

Ok let’s google

What the hell is indemnity?… What does it mean to be self employed?…Do I need a society?… How the heck do I know if I should be a limited company?… What do I write in my notes?… What if I have a medical emergency?… What medicine is it again that’s a contraindication to local anaesthetic?… Do I buy my uniform?… What instruments do I need?… Should I sign that contract?… Should I even have a contract?… What’s a contract?… Where am, I and what is my name?…

Does any of this sound familiar?

Coming next time - my dental career: the first 5 years. I will be sharing from my experience over the last few years about what NOT to do and what I have learnt.

Let’s see if it helps you out. And if not, then hey! At least I will have gotten it off my chest!

Annette Matthews

Midlands Dental Therapist

BSDHT Social Media Coordinator


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