Celebrating 100 years of women dental professionals


Hannah WoolnoughHannahWoolnough

Where did you qualify and when?

Cardiff University   2006

What attracted you to dentistry?

As a child I wanted to be a doctor. My Dad then pointed out that Dentistry would allow me to be a surgeon from the start with better hours! I wanted to work with my hands and help people so it was the perfect fit.

What are your current responsibilities in the profession?

I have a variety of roles and responsibilities, including:

  • Associate General Dentist in Ipswich Suffolk
  • Training Programme Director for Essex Coast DFT Scheme
  • Dental Workforce Support Advisor HEE East of England
    Vice Chair Suffolk LDC
  • Chair East Anglia and Essex Practitioner Advice and Support Scheme Committee
  • Chair of English Country Council BDA (UK Council Chair 2019)
  • Chair and Treasurer Suffolk and Ipswich Section BDA
  • English Council representative and Treasurer Eastern Counties Branch BDA
  • Incoming President Eastern Counties Branch BDA
  • LDN Essex member
  • LDN East Anglia member

Hannah’s dental story

After my undergraduate training in Wales, I returned to my home town of Ipswich for my Vocational Training (VT) year, and despite my intentions to travel the world, went on to work in general practice in the area. I broadened my horizons by working for emergency out of hours service and Suffolk Community Dental Services including a year working at Highpoint Prison, one of my favourite Dental experiences to date! The variety of working environments I experienced in my first few years of work was fantastic and really helped me to understand what I enjoyed and what I didn’t. It also gave me much greater confidence seeing a broad range of patients for all walks of life. At the end of the day, teeth are just teeth, it’s what they are attached to that makes life interesting.

Following a return to full time general practice, I applied to become a Foundation Dentist (FD) trainer and undertook a PGCert in Dental Education. I spend two fantastic years as a trainer before the opportunity arose for me to become a Training Programme Director for the Essex Coast Scheme. Working with the newly qualified dentists in the first few months of the “real world” is both challenging and enormously rewarding.

I started to get involved with local BDA and Local Dental Committee (LDC) events at this point as my knowledge of the newly qualified practitioners helped to shape and improve our local provision. Through this I have gone on to sit on the Local Dental Networks (LDNs) in the region, Genera Dental Practitioner Committee (GDPC), and more recently become nationally involved with the BDA through English Council. Locally, we have set up a Practitioner Advice and Support Scheme for Dentists in difficulty and I have taken on the role of Dental Workforce Support Advisor for East of England with a particular focus on Performer List Validation by Experience.

These opportunities to help improve access to the profession and the working lives of those within it have been humbling and inspiring. There is much work to do and morale is low, however, I feel I have become part of something that can make a real change either with a single individual reaching out for help at a local event, or by contributing to national efforts through the BDA and Health Education England.

I entered Dentistry expecting to spend my time fixing teeth, and although I still do a fair bit of this, the rich rewards of the unexpected path my career has taken are a constant surprise and delight. I am honoured to be a part of this noble and often unappreciated profession and I am committed to playing my part to make it as rewarding for the Dentists of the future as it has been for me.

What has been your most memorable achievement in the profession?

My appointment as a Training Programme Director. Being trusted with the enormous responsibility of monitoring the future of the profession was a little unexpected but I hope I have served them well!

What advice would you give your younger self on qualifying?

Don’t worry about what you should or shouldn’t be doing in your career. Just take the opportunities as they arise and enjoy the ride!

Which of your mentors have influenced you the most?

Meeting any women in positions of senior responsibility has been inspirational to me, however, my influences have come from all aspects of my career. Developing relationships with my peers and co-mentoring as our careers develop within education has been invaluable. Most recently, the appointment of Maria Ross-Russell as interim dean for East of England has given me the confidence through her excellent leadership and mentoring to realise that the sky is the limit for all of us.

How have you used mentoring throughout your career?

Following a fantastic experience as a VT, my desire to get involved and give something back to new graduates has been irrepressible. I have loved formal teaching; however, the most rewarding experience has been the long-term mentoring relationships with my trainees and colleagues in the practice. Watching them develop their skills and confidence over time and blossom into happy successful professionals is an endless joy.


Who We Are:

Dental Mentors UK is run by two experienced dental mentors.
We are:

We believe that all dental professionals would benefit from regularly working with a mentor from a personal as well as a professional point of view. Mentors are experienced dental professionals who can guide and support you throughout your career.

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