On the 8th of March every year for International Women’s Day (IWD), we celebrate the incredible achievements of women in every field. Now, more than ever, it’s exciting to see individuals and groups make such a concerted effort for gender equality and equal rights for women in the workplace. Although we have a long way to go, we’re on the right path.
Dentistry is one such industry that has grown from strength to strength in this area and female numbers are on the rise. Since 2018 over 50% of all dental practitioners in Australia are now female, which is a massive change from even 20 years ago. So why are more women getting into dentistry then men nowhere days?
The perks of dentistry for women
With so many incredible females to celebrate at National Dental Care, every day feels like International Women’s Day. National Dental Care proudly has a workforce of over 80% women who are top of their field and love what they do. We spoke to two ladies in particular who shared why dentistry has been a great choice for them.
Dentist Dr Caroline Kowalski-Cruden from Perth and hygienist Shauna Adams from Adelaide, have both achieved a lot in their careers so far. Caroline obtaining both a Medicine degree and a Dentistry degree whilst juggling two young children, and Shauna being a two-time volunteer in Vietnam providing much needed dental treatment to poverty stricken locals.
“After studying medicine I realised that my area of interest was maxillofacial surgery, which meant that I needed a dentistry degree as well”, Caroline explains. “I luckily got into an accelerated degree at Kings College which offered 3 years of dentistry instead of 5, and the rest is history!”
With dentistry offering women more flexibility and better work life balance than other industries such as Medicine, it doesn’t come as a shock that female numbers are rising fast. “I love that there’s a nice compromise working as a dentist,” says Caroline, “you can still have a career but also a family. I can come home to my family at a normal hour most nights, and tuck my beautiful 6 and 7 year old boys into bed. That’s really important to me.”
From then till now
With more women than ever joining the dental industry, it’s interesting to see how different it was even 40 years ago. Lead dentist at National Dental Care Chermside, Dr Jillian Fisher, shares how when her mother graduated in 1977, less than one third of her class were female. “It was a very different environment for women at university back then,” says Jillian, “my mum definitely struggled to be taken as seriously as her male counterparts, even though she was extremely capable.”
Women can thrive in dentistry as most seem to have innate abilities that suit patient care. Women are usually more nurturing and compassionate, and foster great relationships with their patients. “I think women really take the time to address their patient’s concerns and take into account external factors such as financial situations and family issues,” says Caroline. “Of course a lot of men have these traits as well but it’s at the core of most women to be nurturing and empathetic.”
Dentistry and travel
With over 25 years of experience under her belt, Shauna Adams started her journey in dentistry as a dental assistant before training as a dental hygienist in Australia and the UK. “I love that dentistry provides a lot of travel prospects, whether it’s working in a different country (dependant on visa requirements) or travelling overseas for volunteering opportunities,” says Shauna. After hearing about an organisation dedicated to providing humanitarian aid in Vietnam from a dentist that she worked with, Shauna decided to give it a go.
“It was such an incredible experience providing much needed dental care to those in need, especially the orphans,” smiles Shauna. “In life, I think it’s important to give back in whatever way possible to others, especially those who are less fortunate than us. 2019 was my second trip and I will continue to volunteer on a yearly basis, as it’s a truly humbling experience. I feel so privileged that I’m in an industry where I can volunteer in other countries and put my training to good use!”
Support from National Dental Care
National Dental Care pride themselves on providing a supportive and understanding atmosphere both in the practices and the support office. “When I was volunteering in Vietnam, NDC were more than happy for me to go and they donated products and materials for us to use over there,” says Shauna. “I am very grateful for their support and I’m proud to be a part of the company.”
NDC also offers flexibility in the practices to help out staff with any personal situations and requirements they may have. “It’s great to know that I can swap my shifts if necessary with another provider and even take off large amounts of time, if given enough notice, to go home to my family in Poland,” says Caroline.
The advantages of being a dentist
Although it’s hard work, dentistry provides a great feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. “Being able to help people have the confidence to smile again is wonderful,” says Caroline. “They walk in absolutely terrified and I work hard to alleviate their fears. When they walk out happy and saying it wasn’t as bad as they thought it was going to be, that’s the greatest feeling in the world. Any woman interested in moving into the dental industry, my recommendation cannot come any higher!”