Celebrating 100 years of women dental professionals
Jodie Lee Mahoney (nee Dallywater)
Where did you qualify and when? Sheffield, 2009
What first attracted you to dentistry?
I first found I was attracted to dentistry during work experience, I loved the team spirit and the shared love for wanting to make a difference to people and their health. Aside this, I love DIY….and dentistry is essentially mini-DIY! So, I can carry out DIY to my hearts content without making a mess of the house!
I have three distinct roles in the dental field, all of which complement each other and allow me to perform better in each individual role.
In practice I am Lead Hygiene Therapist for a corporate company. Here I manage a team of hygienists and dually qualified Hygiene Therapists, conducting their annual appraisals and providing support according to their personal development plans. I also see both adult and paediatric patients for routine restorative and periodontal work. Within a corporate company, communications become naturally more complex as practices evolve and expand, one of my roles is to manage these communications between teams to ensure a happy team working environment utilising skill mix to its greatest potential.
Foundation Therapy Programme Lead for Health Education England I am responsible for seeing a cohort of newly qualified therapists through the tough transitional year from university to general practice. With this role, my mentoring qualities come into their own. As well as organising the study day programme I work alongside the educational supervisors in practice to support and guide the therapists as they set out in their careers. This can be in a multitude of settings and present many obstacles from clinical difficulties through to personal issues, all of which need to be worked through with the right people and at the right pace. Also, within this role I give advice and discussion on future choices, helping the therapists to embark on the dental pathway best suited to them post foundation training year.
Undergraduate tutor for dental hygiene and therapy. Here, I teach years 1, 2 and 3 for the degree in dental hygiene and therapy. This role includes clinical teaching, laboratory teaching, lecture and small group teaching, along with personal tuition of a small number of students. I am also involved in examinations, including examination of the students, invigilating, standard setting and marking.
Jodies’ dental story:
I started my journey into dentistry when I was just 15. I did work experience with a friend of my dad’s who happened to be a dentist. I shadowed him and a vet at the same time, not knowing which way I wanted to go. After experiencing both, I fell in love with the team spirit and wanted to influence the public for their better health. I started dental nursing and did the NVQ Level 3 at college whilst still doing my AS Levels at school. I then left school with my AS Levels and went to work with a fantastic dentist near home. During my 3 years with her, I gained valuable experience, and completed the post qualification in sedation nursing. This meant I had the entry requirements needed to apply for the Diploma in Dental Hygiene and Therapy at the University of Sheffield. I started my studies at age 19 in 2007 and qualified in summer 2009. I went on to experience both private practice and NHS practice, eventually settling into a mixed corporate (where I still work today) and began building my clinical experience as a hygiene therapist. After a year, I began to see that my strengths and qualities lay in teaching and mentoring after training trainee nurses and helping peers with struggles they may have had. After a year of being in this practice I was made Lead Hygiene Therapist, and this opened a door for me to discover mentoring and gain experience in conducting meetings, speaking publicly and appraisals. After a little while I knew I wanted to expand on this new learning and really began to thrive upon it. I did my research and applied for the foundation training programme lead position, which I was successful in. This job opportunity opened my eyes to the world of NHS dentistry from an educational perspective and on a much deeper level than in practice. With this position came lots of networking and I was lucky enough to meet people who were able to guide and support me in my chosen career pathway. After gaining considerably more experience in mentoring and teaching here, I began to teach at an undergraduate level at the University of Birmingham. This is where I am today, juggling all three roles, which undoubtedly, complement one another.
Most memorable achievement:
Completing the Post Graduate Certificate in Medical Education….I managed to do this with a 3 month old child claiming most of my time and brain cell capacity!
What advice would you give to your younger self upon qualifying?
Do not to expect to be perfect in every aspect of your scope of practice right away, and not to let new work places make you feel this way. Take your time, grow into your role and accept your weaknesses.
Mentors whom have influenced me most:
The dentist I used to nurse for, whom I am still very good friends with. She saw the potential in me and selflessly helped me to see my own future within dentistry, guiding me through the roles and responsibilities of hygienists and therapists, the application process and beyond. I still now, turn to her for guidance if I need it. She is not only a fountain of knowledge but has my best interests at heart and will do anything for anyone, so much so, that I don’t believe I would be where I am today without her.
The programme director I work alongside in my Health Education England role has also been a huge influence on me. He has helped me to network with others, opening new doors and creating exciting pathways in my career. This has increased my confidence and knowledge in many branches of dentistry and its thanks to him that I can say this.
How I have used mentoring throughout my career:
I have subconsciously used mentoring with my patients right from the day I qualified, in guiding them to improve their oral health and support them in making decisions relating to their health. It is only when you reflect and have training in mentorship that you realise just how much you have already used it and how much you have grown because of it. I mentor my hygiene and therapy colleagues within the practice environment I work in, this is on a more official level when there are difficulties in practice. With both of my educational roles the mentoring is such a huge part of it and probably the most important. For a student to feel like they can talk to you without being judged or told what they should do, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, is crucial in their education experience and will count somewhat toward their successes.