Nazli Imtiaz is a London-based dentist with over 18 years of experience under her belt. We caught up with her on her career journey so far:
- What sparked your interest in dentistry?
I did work experience as a dental nurse in 1989. I kept working as a holiday/Saturday job until I qualified as a dentist due to how much I enjoyed it, learning from the invaluable exposure to the dental world. I was inspired by the relationships the dentists built with their team and patients.
I always knew that I liked healthcare and it was a matter of choosing a field that was patient facing and practical. It was a family practice where the owners had a real passion for what they were doing, and I believe that made a great impression on me.
What is a highlight of your career?
There are two main highlights, the first one being making a difference to the patient journey and experience. When I see and treat patients who have suffered a dental injury due to an accident or sports injury, it’s so rewarding to re-position and repair the teeth and get them back into function with as little distress and anxiety as possible. The satisfaction of a child or adult phobic turning around and saying how you changed their mindset about dentistry, that’s priceless.
The second highlight was receiving The Certificate of Merit from the British Dental Association (BDA) for my work at the 2017 BDA Awards. It was a tremendous honour and I felt very humbled. I have always enjoyed being a BDA member and have benefitted from its union support and the networking environment. It is so important as a profession to find a space where you can access support, mentoring and empathy. I strongly believe in giving back and supporting your colleagues in whatever way you can. I’m not an academic or a teacher, but I can be a useful point of contact to direct colleagues to those who have the expertise and can help them or give advice from my experiences with the support of the invaluable team at The BDA. I enjoy facilitating the events both social and educational for The Metropolitan Branch as part of a committee of amazing dentists, from whom I have learnt so much and been lucky to make lifelong friends
What advice do you have for British-Pakistanis wanting to enter dentistry?
If you have chosen Dentistry and really have a passion to pursue it, don’t give up at the first hurdle and keep going. Look for support and advice from your local network or seek mentorship. The BPF has created a great mentoring network, so take advantage of it!
Ask at least three people to review your application/personal statement. Be willing to accept feedback and input, and ensure that what you submit is the best representation of you. Know your application inside out and make sure it’s honest, as you will be asked about what you have written.
Do your research about the institutions you plan on applying to. Be able to explain why you chose to apply to each college/University, why you think they would benefit from you. Know what makes you an asset or different to other applicants.
Be able to show your dynamism, your character and personality in your CV through your non-academic activities. Join/start a club, a blog, a YouTube account. Whatever it is, be innovative about it as, in a world where everyone gets A’s, you need to have a USP.
I saw a great quote today from Travis Bradberry: “Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up!” and I totally agree. Until recently I would’ve considered failure a terrible outcome when actually it makes you stronger and better as an individual.
If you don’t get a place first time round or you don’t get the grades you had hoped for, re-apply and do something positive and useful in your year out whilst you wait.
Make the best out of every outcome and seek feedback whenever possible from both your peer group and mentors.
- What do you do to unwind?
I love to meet friends, eat out, volunteer and get involved with organisations like The British Dental Association, and of course BPF!
- Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I hope I’ll still be working and enjoying what I do, alongside continuing to volunteer and mentor aspiring dentists. I also see myself further supporting my colleagues and creating tighter networks for not only those dentists who have a good career but for those who need support and advice.
- If you were not a dentist, what profession would you be in?
Good question – it’s a hard one! Either medicine or psychology, as I’ve found that the older I get, the more interested I am in how people’s minds work.
I would like to train in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), it is very interesting and a useful tool in dentistry as well as for managing anxiety/ behaviour in life. I’m very interested in how people think behave and interact. It’s fascinating and constantly surprising how people behave versus how you would expect them to behave within the invisible social and professional boundaries we set.
I also find the beauty industry and how make-up has evolved in the last two decades interesting, with the age of social media it seems how we look on the outside is almost more important than the inner being. Transforming appearances can have both positive and a negative impact on perceptions.
Find out more about Nazli Imtiaz here