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Meet the FDS Board: Mrs Vanita Brookes

23 Feb 2018

I have always been interested in science and from a young age envisaged working closely with people. From the age of 16, I would volunteer working with in patients at a local mental health hospital, or deliver meals to the housebound. I liked the idea of helping people and working in a stimulating environment, so it was inevitable that I pursued a career in healthcare.

My career journey did not follow the typical path of a specialist dental surgeon in the UK. Special Care Dentistry was only recognised as a dental specialty by the General Dental Council in 2008. Having qualified as a dental surgeon from the University of Liverpool in 1985, I worked in both primary and secondary care trying to develop my clinical skills in the provision of care for patients with a variety of disabilities and impairments. At the same time, I looked to the Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) to support and assure my knowledge and skills through formal examinations.

I attained my FDSRCS Edinburgh in 1989, a Diploma in Dental Public Health from the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) England in 1996, and an MSc from the University of Manchester in 1998. In 2000, I was successful in the first diet of the Membership in Special Needs Dentistry RCS Edinburgh and was later awarded FDSRCS England (Ad Eundem) in 2002. Following this, I was appointed as Consultant in Special Care Dentistry at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in 2007 and am also a specialist in Paediatric Dentistry.

My career journey with the FDS

My relationship with the FDS first began in the mid-1990s. It has been a wonderful opportunity to become involved and contribute to different facets of the profession. I have served as an examiner for MJDF and past Chair of the Diploma in Special Care Dentistry. I was RCS National Specialty Advisor in Special Care Dentistry for the Royal College of Surgeons England and Chair of the Specialist Advisory Committee in Special Care Dentistry. I was elected to the Faculty Board in 2015.

More than just a qualification

The FDS is usually associated with examinations. However, there are many ways members can engage and add a new dimension to their professional lives – at any stage. Resources like the FDJ and e-Den, a suite of free online education modules, offer a convenient way to stay up to date with the latest in news, policy, practice and skills for the time-poor dental surgeon.

For members interested in research opportunities, the FDS has a number of research fellowships and Pump-Priming grants to support practitioners undertake oral and dental surgery research.

The reality is that many members live outside of London. The FDS now holds a number of courses in Manchester and Leeds and is looking to improve this offering over time. I myself live in the North West of England and always welcome benefits and services that are accessible to the whole membership. One benefit that members are not usually aware of is the presence of a Regional and Specialty Advisors. They can be a useful point of contact for specialty-specific advice in relation to career development and relevant FDS and specialty-associated activities.

I have always found the FDS to be welcoming, friendly and aligned to my professional values, with an emphasis on practice and patient care. The FDS and the wider RCS provide a platform to be able to network with peers across the country. Moreover, as a clinician, having undertaken a number of College exams, there is an assurance that you have reached a standard that is globally recognised. This and being part of professional community that has continued to set the standard for dental surgery for more than 70 years has enhanced my career journey.

3 ways to get involved

Just as there are many ways the FDS can support you throughout your career, the Faculty also offers many opportunities to give back and to influence the future of the profession. My advice to members is to get involved any way you can. Start by:

  1. Building your networks. Attend a College event or contact your relevant Regional and Specialty Advisor.
  2. Investing in your skills. Browse up-to-date e-Den modules or register for upcoming courses.
  3. Getting in touch. The FDS is always looking to improve the way it works with members. Email FDS Dean, Professor Michael Escudier with your feedback.

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