I think you adjust differently coming to uni later in life. People that come in when they’re younger, because they’re used to education, they probably take it in their stride a bit more. I did find it quite hard to adjust to begin with, because it was very foreign to me, but I’m definitely glad I did it. A hygienist that I used to work with, I think she was in her 40’s when she went to university. You shouldn’t be limited just because you didn’t do it at 18. I don’t actually know if I would have got on to this course when I was 18, I probably would have messed it up! Everything happens for a reason and I feel like I came at the right time.
I feel proud that I got onto this course, because I’d never been someone who was academic. My education was quite sketchy and I’d always considered it to be a bit out of my reach, so I’m proud that I’ve managed to get as far as I have. I’ve always been a more socially awkward person as well, so I’m proud that I can take charge and talk to patients – it’s a side to my personality that I didn’t really know I had.
Coming here to study Oral Health was pretty much by accident! I was working as a dental nurse for just under 2 years and I kind of knew what a dental hygienist was, so I looked more into it when I was doing my dental nurse training. I was always on the dental nurse network too and I decided that this is actually what I wanted to do. I just wanted more independence in my job, more responsibility, I wanted to be hands on. I’ve always felt more engaged if I’m actually doing stuff hands on, whereas dental nursing got a little bit repetitive for me. When I graduate I’ll be my own dental clinician, so basically I’ll be able to work for myself. There’s more opportunities for growth as well, there’s more variety. When I was dental nursing I was stuck in a bit of a rut, it stopped suiting me, whereas with this I’ll be a clinician in my own right, so you get a lot more independence from that.
I follow a few dentists and hygienists on Instagram and it’s so interesting. They show a different side of dentistry and they talk about things like women in dentistry and different courses that you can do. I like it because it’s what I’ve got to look forward to. I’ve been quite lucky, because when I’ve worked in practice I’ve had quite supportive hygienists. One hygienist I worked with said it was the best thing she’d ever done. I think I’ve been quite lucky on this course as well, because I’m surrounded by people that are very supportive.