"I heard about the alumni mentoring programme through a friend who is now a doctor, she also went to La Retraite...I expected to encourage and motivate students, but I have got so much more out of this programme."
- Toyin Aiyegbusi, dentist and former student of La Retraite Roman Catholic Girls' School
“I am currently undertaking a hospital training post in oral maxillofacial surgery, restorative and special care dentistry. This is a mixed speciality post, which provides lots of exposure to different aspects of dentistry.
After I finished my year of compulsory training in general dental practice, I wanted further exposure in the hospital setting. I am now in my second year of hospital training and really enjoying it.
Working in the hospital environment can be challenging, but this really appeals to me. The treatment that I help to provide is generally more complex than that of general dental practice. This is a great opportunity for me to enhance existing clinical skills and develop new ones. The patients treated in hospital often have multiple co-morbidities; this means they have different medical conditions that may impact what treatment is possible for them. I therefore have to liaise with various medical teams in the hospital to provide the best care.
I also have on call duties, in which I have to answer the bleep pager whenever it goes off. It could be for anything from a patient with a dental abscess to one with significant facial trauma following a road traffic accident; you just don’t know until you answer the bleep!
My big dream is to become a consultant in restorative dentistry. It’s a really competitive route, but I’m willing to work very hard to get there. For now, I plan to continue working in different dental specialities, to build a strong foundation in the early years of my career.
What would I give to school leavers about the knowledge and skills needed at work?
The most important thing is to have confidence in your own abilities. Make sure to put them across wherever you go, because if you don’t believe in yourself, it limits how much others will believe in you.
Always give 100% and be professional. Good character will take you far in life and colleagues will appreciate someone who tries their best.
Develop those things which interest to you outside of work, such as a hobby or sports activity. It makes you a well-rounded person and helps you maintain a good work-life balance.
I personally didn’t know any dentists at the time of applying for dentistry and there were very few work experience programmes specifically relating to dentistry back then. However, the staff at La Retraite helped me find different opportunities that would develop transferable skills and boost my application.
It was surreal going back to La Retraite. The building had changed a lot, but it still had the same feel. Going back made me reflect on the role the school played in my development. It made me appreciate how much they encourage students to try their best. The teachers really pushed me academically and undoubtedly, this has played a massive part in getting me to where I am today.
I heard about the alumni mentoring programme through a friend who is now a doctor, she also went to La Retraite. When she asked me if I might be interested in signing up to become a mentor, I said yes straight away and didn’t give it a second thought! I expected to encourage and motivate students, but I have got so much more out of this programme. This is my second year of mentoring and I am still finding it very rewarding.
If ever there’s an opportunity to do something like this, grab it. You’ll not only help other people but you’ll personally gain so much.
Mentoring develops your communication and interpersonal skills. You’ll also meet a wealth of interesting people. It has helped me to put myself in the other people’s shoes and do my best for them. More than ever, I realise that every person is different; you have to treat every mentee according to what their individual needs are.”