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What’s it like being a... clinical mentor, associate dentist and safeguarding lead? Trisha Patel

Blog Author Trisha Patel

Blog Date 15/10/2019

Trisha Patel is an associate dentist at a large, six-surgery practice in Newham. Part of her role includes mentoring dentists from overseas and having the responsibility for being the safeguarding lead in her dental practice. She tells us about her day...

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My alarm goes off..

At 5.45am. The first thing I do is reach for my phone. After browsing through my messages and emails (and Instagram of course!), I get out of bed and start getting ready for the day. 

I have my breakfast and then head off to work by train. The journey into work is fairly long, taking around 1.5 to 2 hours on a good day. I’m crazy, I know!

I’m responsible for…

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I am currently an associate dentist at a large, six-surgery practice based in Newham. 

I firmly believe in preventative, minimally invasive, ethical dentistry, and I have a particular interest in dental public health and teaching, having recently completed my training to become an approved PLVE Validation Supervisor (i.e. a postgraduate clinical mentor) for EU and international dentists. 

I am also our practice’s adult and child safeguarding lead, which has been my most challenging role to date. 

I got the job...

I graduated from The University of Birmingham in 2013 and went onto complete my postgraduate vocational training in Beckenham, Kent. 

Since then, I have worked in several different fields of dentistry including general practice, community and domiciliary care, before finally becoming an associate dentist in 2016.

My typical day...

My day usually consists of seeing around 20 patients; this involves consultations, examinations, managing emergencies and various other treatments. My first patient is booked in for 8.45am and my last patient around 4.45pm. 

My mentoring role includes educating and providing support to dentists who have little or no experience of any NHS dentistry in the UK. This includes supervising clinical practice, offering ongoing clinical support and advice, carrying out regular assessments and audits and providing weekly tutorials, spanning a wide range of topics. 

As an adult and child safeguarding lead, I provide advice to other members of the team on the management of patients who are deemed a safeguarding concern. 

My roles include assessing risk, making written and telephone referrals as appropriate and holding regular practice training sessions to ensure ongoing continued professional development and learning within the team.

Worst part of my job...

I am very passionate about ensuring the safety of all our patients but seeing vulnerable adults and children being subjected to neglect, abuse or maltreatment can be extremely unsettling to witness. 

One of the worst and most frustrating things is when you see parents who don’t follow up their young child’s referral, or fail to bring their children to treatment appointments when there is known active dental disease present. 

Although necessary, it is difficult to have a safeguarding conversation with parents and carers. I never want to be the one to refer cases to social services on the grounds of suspected negligence. But unfortunately, there are times when this needs to be carried out, as its in the patient’s best interest. 

The best part... 

Knowing you are making a positive difference to people’s lives, no matter how small that may be. 

It’s deeply satisfying to see patients striving to change their lifestyle based on your recommendations and ultimately taking responsibility for their own oral health. 

After work...

In my spare time, I love travelling and photography. I enjoy catching up with family and friends and also love binge-watching Netflix shows for hours on end! 

My Plan B...

If I wasn’t a dentist, I would probably be a photographer. I’ve always enjoyed taking photos and find it a great and therapeutic pastime, so if the opportunity came to do it professionally one day, I’d most definitely seize it. 

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Trisha Patel, associate dentist


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