Onwards and upwards to the next chapter!

Woo it’s finally arrived – GRADUATION day. Second degree finally accomplished and what a hectic yet superbly wonderful and life changing 4 years it has been.

It would be utter lies if I said it was plain sailing throughout. Amongst the incredible and enjoyable times, amazing colleagues and inspirational tutors, laughs and wonderful experiences there has also been failings, breaking points, times when I’ve been pushed beyond my comfort zone, thought I’d reached my limit and “this is too hard” moments. But it’s within this moments and low points that I learned the power of perseverance and friendship. The struggles served only to strengthen and reinforce my belief in both myself and those that support me. And, without these moments, I could not wholly revel in the journey and accomplishment today.

Thank you so much to my family and friends who have offered me their unwavering support (and finances!), to my colleagues who pushed me and helped me through the last 4 years, to Kings College London for the opportunity to push me beyond what I thought would be possible (all the while reminding me that I’m at “one of the top university in the world and one of the top dental schools in the UK”) and finally to Andy, who simply is the hero in my story.

The qualification I’ve gained at the end of all this is by no means the end, but merely the dough to which I may use to design and decorate my own masterpiece, and to shape and sculpt as I please. It’s an exciting and daunting time, a time to embrace the new challenges and the new unknowns. I’m reminded not to be fearful, but instead, to welcome fear, because fear challenges us, it sharpens and shapes us and dares us and makes us more resilient. Running away from fear only means we lose out on the opportunity to be our best selves.

Congratulations to everyone at King’s College London Dental Institute who also graduated today! Class of 2014! Now that this chapter has been given it’s successful ending, it opens the door to more dreams, more mountains and more boundaries.

Onwards and upwards!

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A world of goodness

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Sometimes when I pause for a moment I often wonder if there was more good I could have done today. Could I have taken time out to help someone? Was I too quick to judge? Was that gossip any of my business? Could I have done more? Or better? Did I do enough? Or spend enough time listening? Could I be a better daughter, sister, girlfriend or friend? Was I selfish?

Everyone is self indulgent from time to time, and if we pause every once in a while to be grateful for the things we have rather than agonise over the things we don’t have, our lives could be brighter and more meaningful. A small act of kindness can perpetuate into something big and wonderful. So go spread some sunshine, you know you want to!

A week with Adam’s Dental

As part of my elective this year I spent a week with Adam’s Dental in North London. I wanted to see what real life general dentistry was like outside the bubble of dental school, and to get a real feel for time and patient management within a busy and well established practice. I also wanted some insight into the day to day running and management of a practice.

So just a brief background, Adam’s Dental is a mixed practice taking on both private and NHS patients, and along with general dentistry, the practice also offers specialist services in implants, bone augmentation, sedation and hypnosis. Along with dental aesthetics, patient’s seeking to maintain/improve the appearance of their facial aesthetics non-surgically, can do so synchronously with Dr. Ricky Adams.

My week

It has been a gloriously hectic week, and I have seen some spectacular composite work and exceptionally beautiful smiles leave Adam’s Dental during my week here. It was particularly lovely to see such a close knit team working harmoniously and effectively together. The dental nurses and reception staff do a tremendous job of keeping everything ticking over, always smiling and welcoming even though they are the first to arrive each day and last to leave. At dental school, you are taught the importance of team work, and on clinics you only really get a vague idea of it, however I hadn’t realised how detrimental it was, until I observed a busy team working remarkably hard to ensure the seamlessly smooth and efficient running of a practice. Emergency appointments and over running were swiftly and what appeared to be, effortlessly managed (I am absolutely petrified about my own time management, but I guess that comes with experience and practise).

I had the pleasure of observing both Dr. Alex Adams and Dr. Ricky Adams work. Having owned and worked at the practice for over 30 years, Dr. Alex Adams was full of very wise advice for me. His attitude towards minimally invasive dentistry, and his approach to ethical treatment planning and patient care was exceedingly admirable. As with any new situation or environment, the first day in any new place is bound to be daunting and awkward (for me anyway, and if you are an introvert like myself, you’ll be familiar with plenty of bathroom breaks to try and think of something intelligent to say!), but to my relief, Dr. Alex Adams is the type of person whose presence alone can put you at ease. This combined with an almost hypnotic tone, gleeful smile and light hearted conversation, it’s not surprising that even the very nervous of patients are soon feeling a lot more comfortable and relaxed. It was mesmerising to watch him both work and communicate with patients. After spending time with Dr. Alex Adams, I’m very excited to go away and put to practise some of the new skills he has kindly passed down to me, next term. With such excellent teaching skills, I only hope he dabbles in some teaching one day.

Dr. Ricky Adams, brings a very refreshing and vibrant atmosphere to the practice, especially with his expertise in facial aesthetics. It was exciting to watch Dr Ricky Adams at work, and I got to see a few of his cool gadgets! It was particularly invigorating and wonderful to experience the animated personality that would come out as soon as a child patient walked into the room. His ability to get the very nervous of children to sit in the dental chair and receive treatment was really something to learn! I was also fortunate to observe some facial aesthetics sessions too. The scope of practise once qualified is astounding, and I am very much looking forward to learning more about facial aesthetics with the hope of one day adding this to my skill set.

Now with only one academic year left before I qualify (fingers crossed), and after having a taster of what dentistry could be like, I am immensely excited to embark on the next stage of my dental journey. I am under no false pretence of the reality of dentistry, or the stress, work and dedication that is required, in fact I welcome it. The hard work will keep me grounded and allow me never to take things for granted.

If you interested in any aspect of dentistry, either as a patient or prospective dental student and want to find out more, click onto Adam’s Dental for more information.

I want to thank Dr Alex and Ricky Adams, and the team at Adam’s Dental for being so hospitable, open and helpful. It was a real eye opener, and I hope I get to see much more of the future!

To find out more about Sheila

Happy Birthday to Andrew!!

Andrew - Dan and  Nats Wedding

Andrew – Dan and Nats Wedding

It’s Andrew’s BIRTHDAY! Woo! I have publicly dedicated this blog entry to him, so be warned, I’m about to grace you with one of those nauseous, public displays of “she’s one of those people I cross off my news feed, bore off” type post. You’re about to delve into the gooey, nauseating depths of my mind, so if this stuff makes you want to tell me to “do one”, I suggest for the sake of our friendship, you stop reading about here (unless you’re on the fence about hitting the “delete/unfriend” button, then perhaps this could be the last straw). If however, you wish for some insight into why I am so dedicated to this remarkable man, then please, read on!

Dear Andrew, my incredibly wonderful and extraordinarily patient, tolerant and kind boyfriend. I wanted to write you something poetic for your birthday, but found myself restricted to cheesy rhyming words, which did not allow me to freely depict how much you really mean to me, so I decided to pour my heart into this; what should be a short passage, but knowing me very well, will be like the answer to an essay question (last minute, wordy and excellent).

I’m not going to pretend that I wake up everyday realising how lucky I am, or that we are the world’s greatest couple, far from it actually. With the weather being so hot recently, I’m going to bed most nights flustered and sweaty (with you seething about my insistence for the extra extra thick carpet), so the lack of sleep, if anything, makes us both unbearable in the mornings. That said I do know how lucky I am, especially when I sit and reflect during times like this. I’m not lucky because you love me, or because you respect me. Neither because you treat me well nor because make me happy.

They’re all expected.

Vietnam, enjoying a cooling drink

Always fooling around

I’m lucky because you try to understand me (some days you have to try extra hard, which I am fully aware is not without effort), because you’re composed when I’m losing it, because you can compromise when we disagree, because you make a conscious effort to do all the small things that does not go unnoticed, like get out of bed every single morning and bring me a cup of tea (most mornings whilst still half asleep), buy me a flower for no reason, other than because you have spare change in your pocket, run me a bath when I feel stressed, or unwell, offer to feed me when I’m being grumpy, eat my leftovers and pay for me to have something fresh for lunch, because I struggle to eat the same thing twice in a row. It does not go unnoticed that you always do all the washing (clothes and dishes) without ever complaining, or that you pick up Whiskee’s poop so I don’t have to. You write down all the things that you notice I take an interest in or think I’d want on the iPhone app that you think, I don’t know about, and you put up with the public commentary I seem to run about our life (like now). It’s the little things, every single day that you do which makes being with you so phenomenal. I’m lucky because you support my decisions and encourage my dreams no matter how far out of reach they seem to be. I’m lucky because you are a remarkable judge of character and your closest friends are all inspiring and wonderful.

I know how hard work I must be from time to time, and it can’t be easy to be with someone who internalises everything to the point of imploding. Who finds it easier to write personal things down than talk them through (as demonstrated here), but will jabber on endlessly about randomness. I am aware of my flaws, as you are too, and I love you because you don’t throw them in my face when we fall out. It would be deluded of me to tell you that I’m never going to let you down, or that I will always love you and will never leave you. Those are things that I cannot be certain of and I can only hope they always hold true. However, I can promise you that as long as I am committed to you, I will never dishonour or disrespect you, deceive or deny you of the person you deserve. And should that commitment ever change, I will always be open about it to you.

Andrew with Sofia - a natural with the kids

Andrew with Sofia – a natural with the kids

I am a better version of me because of you, better because I want to be the very best that I can be for you (although I haven’t quite gotten there yet). I’m still a massive work in progress. You however, are perfect for me, undoubtedly, a gentleman, gracious and caring, forgiving and dependable. Do not ever change a single thing (except for the points we’ve discussed already). It baffles and bewilders me how calm you remain when I’m hysterical (and yet freak out because you were going 32mph in a 30 zone!), how great you are at managing your finances (and when you get arsy when I wait for a reminder then a red letter before I pay a bill) and how you don’t mind turning up 45 minutes early (whereas I always plan it so I’m just in time). But all these little quirks, have made me a tiny bit better (I am now very chilled (and act hysterical in private), slow down when you’re in the car, or don’t moan about your slow driving, hide the bills and none of the clocks in our house tell time consistently). Like I said, still a work in progress.

Super organised

Andrew’s super organisation skills – suitcase map

Dr. Seuss said that “you know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams”, he sounds like he had insomnia. I sleep really well at night. But I know I must love you because your happiness is essential to mine, and because I would share my wealth with you, my health with you and my soul with you. So when we have our disagreements, and I’m going off on one like a psycho on the blob, I hope you can turn to this to remind you how much you mean to me, and to find the strength to power through my exuberant rage, relentless outbursts and irrationality (which doesn’t happen as often anymore). You are my world!

I want to wish you a very happy birthday, which of course, without this day you wouldn’t be here, and I would be the version of me that existed before you arrived, which was significantly more psycho than the me today.

Gemia Island - Paradise!

Gemia Island – Paradise!

Applying for dentistry – surviving interviews!!

So, you’ve spent what probably seems like a life time trying to write the perfect personal statement where you have successfully shown you could be the ideal candidate as you have figured out the knack of balancing a passion for dentistry, with determination and drive, with compassion and a realistic view of the dental profession, and most importantly you have shown that you can juggle hard work and have a normal life at the same time (that is, your extracurricular activities and hobbies). ‘

After dedicating some many months of researching the profession, work experience and ways to make yourself more desirable for the admissions team (volunteer work, work experience, shadowing, research projects, sports and so on), you finally get the letter about the crazy, exciting, scary, makes you a little bit sick,second stage – the interview. For those of you who have gotten this far, congratulations!! Your application is one of the ones that stood out from the many hundreds of others who applied. But you’re only part of the way there and now it’s time to knuckle down and start preparing for what could be the final hurdle, if you haven’t already done so!

If you are still yet to apply you may want to read “Applying to Dental School” first.

The interview – what does it mean?

If you are at this stage, it is pretty obvious the admissions team feel that academically, you are cut out for their course. They want to see what YOU are like, whether you have realistic views of both the course and the profession and whether you would fit in amongst the other students. They want to know why you would like to do THEIR course and what makes you stand out from the other interviewees. This stage is about YOU, and a lack of preparation, passion and an appreciation for the demands of the course will NOT go unnoticed, so start swotting up!

Preparation

“Unfortunately, there seems to be far more opportunity out there than ability.We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation” Thomas Edison

Prior to applying, you should have already researched the universities in which you intended to apply to, so in theory you should have a general idea of each of the universities and a bit about the cities they are in. What you ought to be doing now is thorough research about the university itself, the course and some basic dental knowledge (let me stress the word basic! – after all, the idea of doing the course is to learn it later on, so do not go mad and stress yourself out! – try to enjoy your summer!). It would be wise to have a clear idea of:

1. The course: what type of course is it? is it problem based learning? Does it have a lot of clinical learning? How does the course compare to other universities? Are there any particular aspects of the course which interests you? How will you be examined? What attracts you to their course?
2. The location: what is the city like? What attracts you to the city? How far is it from your home?
3. NHS Vs Private dentistry
4. Why you want to study dentistry, what skills you have that might make you a good dentist
5. How you manage stress and failure
6. What you learnt during your work experience, what you saw during your work experience
7. What “The First Five Years” is and who the GDC and BDA are
8. Major recent changes in dentistry: NHS contracts, New Dental Contract Pilots, Direct Access
9. Your strengths
10. Some dental ethics such as professionalism, confidentiality, drug abuse etc

Practising interview technique is very useful, record yourself and watch it back if necessary, reflection allows us to improve! Most people do not like watching themselves on camera but I have found it to be a very useful tool to reflect on the way I carry myself, my body language and posture (just make sure you hide/delete the videos unless you like the surprise of seeing it on YouTube!).

Initially, I had intended to write a very thorough blog entry detailing interview preparations, but a fellow King’s student, Sadhvik, has done such an incredibly wonderful job already, leaving else little for me to add! You would be insane to go to an interview without having read this:

A Dental Applicant’s Guide to Getting into Dental School: The Interview

It is an extremely thorough and well researched post for prospective dental applicants, covering pretty much all you need to know about the interview! Amazingly, he’s done all the legwork, so all you need to do is get comfy, count your blessings and enjoy the read!

That’s all I’m going to say about the interview stage. Before leaving it there, I just wanted to mention; believe in yourself and always be positive, because if you have no reason to believe in yourself, why should anyone else? There are many ways to do what you want to do, and the most obvious way isn’t the only way. Learn from unsuccessful attempts, harness your strengths, change the way you think about your weaknesses and be prepared to work hard for what you want. Your attitude defines you, your experiences mould you, your weaknesses make you human.

Good luck!

To find out more about Sheila

Meet Whiskee, our new little addition

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Say hello to Whiskee! She’s our little pup and she arrived 6 weeks ago. In the midst of exams (probably the worse time), she was the perfect destressor (but also a major source of distraction!) and its been such a delight coming home to her after a hard day’s work.

Like many responsibilities, it has been a steep learning curve (and I’m still learning) from getting her to do 1s and 2s outdoors, to teaching her new tricks. So far its been 6 weeks and although she has learnt to “be quick” (my command to get her to do 1s and 2s) outside, she is still having the odd accident indoors which at times can be very frustrating, but apparently puppies do not have full bladder control til at least 6 months old! (Blegh!). I love coming home and being greeted by an excited little ball of fluff! Such a joy!

It’s not easy having a puppy though, the first week consisted of sleepless nights, waking up every 2-3hrs to rush her outside for pees and poops (for Andrew that is), and not leaving her alone for more than 3hrs. She needed constant undivided attention in the first 2-3 weeks, which at times was quite tiring. With the sleepless nights, it started to get very difficult. We crate trained her, so she was in the crate when she could not be watched, and was out let to roam free when we could keep an eye on her. Thank god circumstances were such that Andrew was not working for that first month, otherwise it would have been impossible. That’s not all though, you can’t leave them cooped up when you’re gone for the day, so we’ve built her a little kennel outside. She never goes in the kennel though!! We’ve also put a doggy door into our shed which she has all to herself. The shed is carpeted for her so its more homely, and we have a little radio on in there too. She seems to prefer the shed much more (shock!) but if she knows we’re in the house she just sits right by the back door. She’s not an outdoor dog though, she only goes outside when we’re not in the house during the day, it means she doesn’t have to be cooped up indoors. I’m starting to think we need another little puppy though so they can keep each other company when we’re not around! (Andrew hasn’t quite warmed to that idea..yet).

I started clicker training quite early on to teach her tricks, and so far she can sit, lie down, leave, give paw, roll over and play dead – here’s a sneak peak:

I was pleasantly surprised as to how quickly she picked up new tricks, taking only a day or two to learn. Clicker training definitely is a winner!

So before getting a dog, remember they are a huge responsibility and commitment. They demand a lot of time, attention and love, and they also cost a lot of money (insurance, flea treatment, worming etc). If you can commit to that, then you are in for bags of fun!! Currently, I’m trying to teach Whiskee a trick a week, as well as train her to be loving and not jump up on visitors (the most difficult part!). So far its all going very well! Some parts are slower than others, but there is definitely progress! Hopefully I can get her to do some really cool stuff by the next post! 🙂

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Final year! I made it!

Finally..FINAL year!! Woo!! What a massive relief. I feel so blessed to be doing something I really love and enjoy. And now only 1 more year to go before I can say I have a job (provided I get a job! – fingers crossed). According to last year’s final year, this last year is a roller coaster of exams, interviews, time management, patient management, quotas, paperwork and fantastic experiences. I’m so excited!

After getting our results, we go straight into final year mode before breaking up for summer, and I must say, so far it’s looking promising. This is a year to consolidate learning and put to practise all the skills I’ve picked up and worked very hard to get good at (some aspects have taken a lot more motivation than others *ahem, perio* :p ).

Hopefully my elective over the summer will open my eyes to the real dental world, both here in the UK and in another country. I’m hoping I am able to experience dentistry not only in all its glory, but also in the difficulties and challenges a practitioner faces.

I cannot begin to describe how ridiculously excited I am to finally embark on this final studying hurdle, but I know the learning only truly begins after I graduate and enter the world as a newly qualified dentist. And, from what I hear, the fun begins after I start practising, and seeing as I’m having so much fun now, I feel dizzy with glee about hereon in!

So far in my journey, there has been some ups and downs. The ups keep me going and reinforce my passion for this career, the downs challenge me and prevent me from becoming complacent, and encourages me to continue with seeking a better understanding and personal development.

It’s taken me a lot longer compared to most, to get to where I want, which ironically changes the instant I arrive. But, this solidifies my belief that nothing is impossible as long as you are patient and willing to work hard. And when you succeed in one part – it opens the door to more opportunities and more dreams. Bigger dreams, better dreams, dreams you didn’t think were possible.

I am a believer in self sufficiency and hard work, and so long as you are willing to do the ground work – the world is full of endless possibilities. The walls we put up can only be knocked down by ourselves (sometimes with a little help from others). And when we remove these barriers, things can only look brighter. I live by the belief that thinking well, leads to acting well, and acting well surrounds you with happy and good people. It is these happy people, that will bring you out of times of darkness. And what about the things we can’t change? For these, we have two choices, fight it or change the way we think about it. These are the simple rules I live my life by. That, and karma – everything happens because you deserve it – if what happens is bad, then it’s because you needed to learn from it, either that or you can let it destroy you.

I am very grateful to my loving family and wonderful boyfriend, who have all supported and encouraged me to embark on this journey, even though at times, my being a “student”, impacted their pockets. Hehe. I am also grateful to my friends, colleagues and acquaintances, new and old, who have all helped me along the way, encouraging me to persevere, supporting me in times of need, offering “pearls of wisdom” when I falter and most importantly, making this all the most fun I’ve had so far! Having all this support has helped me develop personally, and discover strengths I never knew existed. I initially started this blog so I could document my journey, however with the constraints of time it’s not really turned out like that. Now I hope I can use this blog as a platform to encourage and help other young dentists in training.

Gosh I’ve gone off on a philosophical tangent haven’t I? I think that’s enough motivational, positive talk for one night. So again, yay!! Final year, finally!

S x