I’m an idealist. I always wanted to build a remarkable practice where patients are cared for to an extremely high standard. I also wanted to create a place where clinicians would feel excited about their work. Seven years on we’ve certainly achieved those aims.
You have an amazing career as an aesthetic dentist. Tell us more about what you do and why you chose this route.
I am the founder of Smileworks, one of the largest independent dental practices in the UK. I started the practice with my husband in 2013 and in 7 years we’ve grown from a pipedream to over 10,000 registered patients and a 45-strong team of amazing clinicians and support staff. We’ve more 5 star reviews than any other practice in the UK.
My practice is mainly aesthetic medicine and orthodontics, and I’ve just set up the Smileworks HUB, an aesthetic training academy for dentists.
I’m an idealist. I always wanted to build a remarkable practice where patients are cared for to an extremely high standard. I also wanted to create a place where clinicians would feel excited about their work. 7 years on we’ve certainly achieved those aims. I love going to work, and it was hard at the beginning but the team is now making it a really fun place to be.
How did your postgraduate degree help shape your career?
It’s been transformational. I finished my MSc in Aesthetic Medicine in 2016. I already did a lot of aesthetics before, but it inspired me to become a comprehensive practitioner. I learnt things I wouldn’t have otherwise, to the huge benefit of my patients. And I was able to build knowledge through my postgraduate degree whilst working in practice, which was ideal.
Since finishing, I‘ve been active in the speaking circuit and have had articles published in dozens of magazines, newspapers and journals. I’ve also been appointed a trainer for Sinclair Pharma, a premium dermal filler manufacturer, and I‘m an expert witness in aesthetic medicine civil law claims. But all this focus on training and developing my career inspired me to create the Smileworks Hub, our aesthetic training academy that offers aesthetics training for dentists. This just wouldn’t have been possible without that additional MSc under my belt. I’ve always said the best student is the teacher. And this has really shown that to be true.
What is the best part of your everyday job?
My patients! Aesthetic Medicine patients are so varied and so much fun. The relationships I’ve made are meaningful and I’m part clinician, part-friend and part-agony aunt. It’s a different type of interaction than with dental patients and I love the synergy between the two.
Aesthetic Medicine is creative and I’m able to do my best work for patients who really appreciate it. Dentists hear, “I hate going to the dentist” all the time. I’ve never once heard that from an aesthetic patient and I’ve seen thousands, and some of them quite nervous. I would always urge dentists who want more variety to consider aesthetics. It’s also been financially rewarding and having dentistry and aesthetics in one business reduces the risk and makes the ups and downs of the economic cycle a breeze.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I believe the future for Smileworks and my future are going to be very exciting. We’ve just started construction of the HUB, a state-of-the-art 7 surgery aesthetic training facility, and aim to finish in early 2021. It has a bunch of training suites, a lecture theatre and technology to beam procedures, lectures and training live to delegates anywhere in the world. While it’s all being built I’m currently focusing on small group teaching and trying to raise the standards in Aesthetic Medicine. I’m excited to see what the future holds for our company and although we’ve come very long way, I think it’s just starting to get really interesting!
My goal is that the aesthetic medicine industry is dominated by dentists and therapists because I believe they’re the best practitioners and are the industries only hope of becoming more regulated so patients can get quality treatment that is safe and makes them happy when they look in the mirror. It’s easy to get distracted by your business and successes but making people feel good about themselves is really my only job.
Why did you choose to study at Barts and the London in particular?
The course at Queen Mary was perfect because it’s academic and I wanted to support my day-to-day practical work with some academic research. It was ideal for advanced practitioners who know the direction they want to take in their learning rather than those who need a guiding hand in technical aspects of their job. That suited me. Queen Mary is also a hugely respected uni and I was proud to apply there and be offered a place.
What aspects of your degree did you find most enjoyable? What modules did you like learning about and was there anything that surprised you in your studies?
I was really inspired by complication management. Aesthetics is unregulated and this means a lot of non-medical people like beauticians are having a go at more and more complex treatments. This comes with huge risks to patients and I’m seeing daily cases turn up at my practice who’ve been botched. I made it my mission to master complication management – my dissertation focused on vascular occlusions from filler treatment. I now accept many referrals for complication management and am committed to improving safety in the industry by means of publications, teaching, raising awareness in the national press and educating on Instagram. But really I’m going to change the industry with the HUB. We are going to teach responsible professionals how to really get on in their aesthetic medicine careers and treat patients safely. We’re also teaching them how to run a successful business. Few other courses come even close to our offering in this respect. And we are successful because we are teaching our own profession. So we get them and they get us.
What was special about your time at Barts and The London? Can you give one or two examples of your most memorable moments?
My course was distance learning, something we’re very familiar with now in 2020! So I only ever attended the actual campus for exams and my graduation. So no drunken shopping trolley or traffic cone stories, unfortunately. I’ve fond memories of my graduation – it was such a great day to celebrate our achievements with all the other medics and dentists who had worked equally hard to gain their postgraduate qualifications.
Do you have any advice for young dentists or recent graduates considering their career options?
You must do aesthetic medicine. It is almost an essential adjunct to providing a full cosmetic dentistry service to patients. I’ve loved my time in the industry. I hear of dental graduates considering postgrad options straight after university. I waited five years before committing to Aesthetic Medicine and it’s made me a much more insightful and comprehensive practitioner as it allowed me to explore what I liked (and didn’t like) in dentistry and really commit to aesthetics.
I had done a lot of practical courses before I commenced my MSc and it ideally supplemented my career. I would say a postgraduate for dentists is something you should consider after a number of years of being comfortable in dentistry – I know everyone wants to be the next big thing right away but I surely would not be where I am today without the working experience and time I had in the profession before starting at Queen Mary.
This profile was conducted by Alumni Engagement Officer, Sara Gazi. If you would like to get in touch with MJ or engage her in your work, please contact Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org.