A healthy word – retraining as a dental therapist

A healthy word – the return to practiceIn this month’s column, Anna Middleton talks about her time back at school, training to become a dental therapist.

At the start of 2020, I opted for a challenge and carted myself back to school to train as a dental therapist.

Why? When I started my business circa 2015 off the back of direct access, it was because I saw a gap in the market. I saw the future of dentistry evolving. And I knew it would happen at a rapid rate.

I have always prided myself on providing the best and latest in treatments. Now I want to add the dental therapist scope of practice to my services.

Improving access and patient experiences have always been motivating factors for me. So I see the role of hygienists and therapists continuing to be more important than ever.

The healthcare industry is continually growing. Who doesn’t want to live a long, happy and healthy life?

More and more dental hygienists and therapists are now seeking to carve out their own paths in the industry utilising direct access. I hope it won’t be much longer before we see a change in prescribing rights.

What does the dental therapist course involve?

The course is a year long and the first four weeks are full time. You can then expect to be on campus two to six days a month. Before completing 14 hours a week on placement.

I am often asked how I am juggling it all. Before starting the course, I dropped my working days down to four a week and no more weekends. This means if I do need to do some extra hours, I can. But it also ensures I have time to study and have a personal/private life – something I sacrificed for years.

The course costs £9,250, which I took out a student loan for. I also saved some money up beforehand in anticipation of my loss of earnings for the first four weeks.

Being self-employed has its ups and downs. I would be lying if I say I don’t worry about money from time to time. I have responsibilities just like everyone else, but I have made some sensible cut backs – packed lunches, cooked dinners, fewer nights out and fewer holidays. That last one particularly hurts!

But as I keep reminding myself – short-term pain, long-term gain.  

‘Be brave’

People also ask me how I have so much energy. The truth is, I do sometimes have moments where everything in my professional life feels slightly overwhelming. But by and large the buzz I get provides the adrenalin I need to keep going.

I love keeping busy. Opportunities don’t always come to you. Chances are you’re going to need to stick your head above the parapet and be brave.

I have also had to learn to say ‘no’ to a few things. Right now, completing this course is my focus and priority.

It is all too easy to take too much on and there is something to be said for acknowledging when to slow down and how to best focus your efforts.

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