‘A candle’s flame is not dimmed by lighting another candle’

This week we speak to Bethany Rushworth about how she got into dentistry and what advice she has for young dentists.

Young Dentist (YD): How did you get into dentistry?

Bethany Rushworth (BR): Growing up I was pretty submersed in the world of dentistry (my dad a dentist, mum a practice manager and auntie a dental nurse), so I guess you could say it’s in my blood!

Funnily enough though, it wasn’t this that made me want to pursue the career. As soon as I was diagnosed as having developmentally absent lateral incisors, I was taken to see an orthodontist, I must have been around eight or nine. After being shown photos of before and after cases like mine, I thought my orthodontist (Fiona Dyer) was absolutely wonderful and I wanted to be just like her.

This ambition never left me and I went on to base my GCSE school projects on dentistry as well as working through school holidays in various dental practices around my home city (Sheffield). I guess you could say I was obsessed.

I qualified as a dentist in 2016 and the last two years have flown by!

YD: Why do you love dentistry?

BR: I’ll get the cliché out of the way first – I love combining medicine, science and art. Now that has been said, I also love building relationships with my patients and really getting to know them and understand them. Having had relatively extensive orthodontic and restorative treatment myself, I really appreciate the difference our teeth can make to our confidence and day to day function. Being able to reassure anxious patients and restore their trust in their dentist is so rewarding.

Dentistry is such a flexible career, which allows you to make it what you want, I think that’s great. You can work part time, full time, in a big team, small team, be a generalist, a specialist, and it is also possible to change your mind and go down a different path if you see fit.

YD: Where do you work at the moment?

BR: I have just finished a dental core training (DCT) post in oral and maxillofacial surgery, which was intense but eye opening and I have learnt so much. I have had a lot of extra work on so decided to take a few weeks off before going back in to general practice. I’m looking forward to implementing the skills I have developed over the past year and having more of a ‘normal’ routine – night shifts were tough.

YD: Tell us about your postgraduate Dentinal Tubules training activities?

BR:  As a student I was my university’s representative for Dentinaltubules.com and following graduation became the international student engagement lead.

In my opinion, Dentinal Tubules is the most amazing network of supportive, successful and motivated clinicians and I love getting students and young dentists involved. We run student study clubs, revision sessions and this year is the first Dentinal Tubules Student Congress in London.

There are now over 1,000 undergraduate members internationally. The local study clubs are great for discussing cases and getting advice – sometimes it is as though I have around 50 mentors. There is always someone willing to help and it genuinely feels like a huge dental family. It is not only a great way to meet other likeminded dentists but there are also hundreds of educational videos, hands-on workshops and livestreams to get involved with.

YD: What work are you doing with Oxford University Press?

BR: I am very honoured to have been asked to take on the role of editor of the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Dentistry, along with my colleague Professor Kanatas.

For the past year we have been working on this project and I am really excited to see it all come together at last. This has been an amazing opportunity, allowing me to work with talented and influential dentists all over the country and has really pushed me to ensure my own knowledge is up to date and accurate.

I am passionate about education and helping younger dentists and dental students, so being able to really focus on what needs to be included in the handbook to help them has been great. The seventh edition is due for publication in spring 2020, so keep an eye out for it.

YD: How do you unwind outside of dentistry?

BR: Around a year ago I took up golf and am so happy to have finally found a sport I enjoy and want to play regularly. I love being outdoors so walking around for a few hours suits me perfectly and it is a very sociable sport. One downside is that it is a lot harder than it looks and I get impatient when the game doesn’t go as I’d like (every game…). I don’t have a handicap yet but I’m working on it!

I also enjoy running, art and reading non-fiction books – especially those about personal development…I’m always looking to improve!

YD: What plans do you have for the future?

BR:  Long-term I see myself being even more involved in education (not only students and young dentists but the general population as well) whilst working in general practice. One of the great things about dentistry is the option to change your path, so I would definitely never rule out working in secondary care.

At the minute I love the variety of general practice and don’t feel I’ve plateaued yet, so for now I want to keep improving and developing my clinical skills and knowledge. Eventually I’d like to do further qualifications in restorative dentistry, whether that be an MSc, MClinDent or even a PhD – I’m not sure yet!

YD: Do you have dreams of running your own practice?

BR: Not currently. I may find it a more appealing option in the future, however, currently, I’m really enjoying focusing on my clinical work, learning, teaching, editing and writing – I feel that the business of dentistry and running a practice would detract from that and perhaps make it less enjoyable for me. I’d never say never though!

YD: Do you have advice or a message for young dentists?

BR: Carve your own path, it isn’t a race and there are multiple different ways to get to where you want to be long term. If you’re just out of dental school you could be looking at another 40 years as a dentist, so there really is no rush.

Things won’t always go to plan, but that doesn’t mean they won’t turn out okay, or even better than we had imagined. It is easy to be disheartened by what people appear to be doing, for example through social media, but everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses and we should focus on our own journey, whilst allowing time for things outside of dentistry that make us happy.

Finally, one of my favourite sayings: ‘A candle’s flame is not dimmed by lighting another candle’. I think this is so true in life and we should all be striving to lift and support each other as dentists. Helping others to succeed will not hinder our own success, and we can learn from each other in the process.

Seb Evans

Seb Evans

Author at Young Dentist

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