A SUPER-fit lifeboat volunteer from Inverness has been named Scotland’s young dentist of the year.
Jane Patterson picked up the accolade just weeks before her 30th birthday after judges recognised her outstanding credentials, especially with children and nervous patients.
Since graduating in 2012 she has worked at the Torwood practice in Inverness, one of two practices in the city operated by Clyde Munro Dental Group. She was honoured at the glittering Scottish Dental Awards held in Glasgow.
Delighted Jane said: “I couldn’t believe it when my name was read out.
“There’s a team of around 20 of us at Torwood and they are all brilliant.”
While Jane collected the Young Clinician of The Year award, one of the most sought-after accolades in Scottish dentistry, the Clyde Munro practice, in Kenneth Street, was also shortlisted for the dental team of the year award, narrowly missing out on the night.
Clyde Munro operates an expanding network of family dentists across Scotland and acquired Torwood in September 2018.
Part of Jane’s success is her ability to reassure young children and other nervous patients. She says that half are affected by previous poor experiences elsewhere, while the other 50% simply have an irrational fear.
She said: “With kids I want to do anything I can to put them at ease so that in the future they will always see visiting the dentist as a positive experience. I will do whatever it takes, even if that means having a tea party on the floor to persuade a child to hop into the seat. And I’ve lost count of the number of treatments I’ve performed on teddies.”
Elsewhere, Jane has also become the go-to dentist in the Highlands for working with autistic children, after her name was shared repeatedly across Facebook groups set up by parents of children on the autism spectrum.
Originally from Ballynahinch in County Down, Northern Ireland, she says that her love of the Irish “craic”, has also helped her build a powerful rapport with patients, by chatting about their families, hobbies, interests and personal lives. All of that helps put patients at ease.
She added: “One of my best successes was a young bride-to-be who’d damaged her teeth in a car accident. She was already nervous about getting in the chair and the fact her big day was coming up made it even worse. It was round the time I was planning my own wedding, so I knew exactly how important wedding photos would be.
“It was challenging because she was so nervous. But we overcame that and also got a brilliant result on her teeth with a combination of really nice white fillings, a couple of crowns and a wee bit of Invisalign braces, to do a bit of straightening.
“Not only did she look absolutely beautiful for her wedding, but six months later she was back for her next check-up, hopped into the chair and was totally relaxed. That was so rewarding to see.”
Jane met her own husband, Martin Hier from Fortrose in the Black Isle, while undergoing punishing training at a Crossfit gym in Inverness. The couple both regularly compete in triathlons and Iron Man events.
Meanwhile she is also studying towards a diploma – and a later a master’s degree – in restorative dentistry. Yet despite her packed diary she also finds time to volunteer on the RNLI’s Kessock Lifeboat, an Atlantic 85 class boat. She is part of a 16-strong volunteer crew, supported by 10 onshore volunteers.
Jane added: “Clyde Munro has been brilliant supporting me to be part of the lifeboat crew, making sure I have the time I need for all of our training or whenever we are called out for an incident.
“I grew up in a coastal community where we knew every member of the lifeboat crew and they were each seen as heroes. So, I feel privileged to be part of the Kessock crew and part of something that is so important in the local community.”
Clyde Munro’s ambition is to add 16 new practices to its portfolio by August 2018, bringing the total to 37. The company’s goal is to be Scotland’s ‘local dentist’ and it has signalled its intention to continue acquiring more practices.