Mrs Vicky Kewley

I have a number of different roles within the dental school, including Director of Dental Care Professionals Programme, Honorary Specialist in Special Care Dentistry and the Director of the Dental Nurse post qualification in Special Care Dentistry

Where did you study your undergrad degree?
I gained my dental degree here from the University of Liverpool in 1990. Prior to that I undertook a Degree in Applied Biology at the John Moores University Liverpool.

What was your first job after graduating?
I worked in General Dental Practice in the Walton area of  Liverpool, the first year as a vocational trainee and the 2nd as an Associate

Briefly describe your career progression from that first job to your current role.
From General Dental Practice I went on to work within the Community Dental service for the next 3 years, both in Liverpool and Blackburn. I developed a special interest in Special Care dentistry, which was, at that time, a speciality in the making. I then moved into hospital dentistry, working for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, eventually as a Specialist in Special Care Dentistry, providing care for patients on an outpatient basis and day case. I worked there for the next 15 years and over that time gained my Fellowship in Dental Surgery, Master in Dental Science (Paediatric Dentistry), Diploma in Dental Conscious Sedation and Membership in Special Needs Dentistry, as well as a Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. I was also entered onto the Specialist list in Paediatric Dentistry and Special Care Dentistry.

My most recent career move has been to my present post as Director of Dental Care Professionals here at the University of Liverpool which has provided a wealth of opportunity to me.

What do you find most rewarding about working in Dentistry?
For me dentistry is about excellence in communication, of making a difference, of helping people in distress. It is never just about teeth or gums, it is about the person as a whole. The most rewarding moment is when a patient  says ‘I have really enjoyed my visit- you have made something scary into something easy’. I relish the opportunity to impact positively on someone’s wellbeing, to change their attitude to a more positive one, and to feel that I have made a real difference to them. It is a true saying that people may not remember the things you have said or done, but they will remember the way you made them feel. I hope always for patients to have a positive experience and  to feel better because of how we have helped them. This for me is very rewarding when this occurs.

What aspects are dentistry do you find most interesting? 
I find those patients presenting with medical complexities  most interesting-where the dentistry is routine but the impact of performing  that dentistry has the potential for harm. I enjoy the challenge of unpicking a complex situation, evaluating that individual’s needs, both dentally and psychologically, and coming up with a solution which is realistic and in the patient’s best interest.  For those patients with complex backgrounds, routine dentistry is often far from routine, and frequently this group of patients may well have much higher treatment needs than other groups. The dentistry itself is generally straightforward. What I enjoy is the ability to find solutions from complex situations.

What are the three most important qualities to have in Dentistry?

Where do you think dentistry will be in 10 years?
I think a lot more ‘routine’ dentistry will be undertaken by dental hygiene dental therapists, ie adult and child fillings, x rays, most gum treatments, much prevention such as fluoride treatments etc. Dentists are trained to a very high level and I believe that dentists will be doing less routine work and a lot more ‘high end’ work such as implants, crowns and such. I am hopeful that the importance of prevention of disease through education will be brought to a higher level of importance which will impact on the health of the nation.
I think the work of special Care Dentistry will increase as the elderly live to even greater ages with multiple medical problems , plus retaining their teeth to an older age. A number of these patients will ultimately require extractions or maintenance of their dentition etc and as complexity of background increased, so does complexity of management, potentially.

What advice would you give to students applying for dentistry?
First and foremost, make sure you are applying because you want to be a dentist and that you are not fulfilling other people’s wishes, or hoping for status for yourself. Be sure that you like people and enjoy communicating. Dentistry really is about making other people’s lives better- putting others first. You must remember that it is a hard career and not without risk and stress. Make sure that you feel you can work under pressure and remain calm and kind to those around you.

If you enjoy the challenge of working with the general public, enjoy problem solving, enjoy improving the lives of others and have the ability to know your limitations and act on that knowledge, then dentistry is for you.

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