Adriana Bosianek tells us about her journey to become an orthodontic therapist

There are many of you out there looking for ways of progressing in your career in dentistry and don’t know where to start. I was one of you.

I started to develop my dream of becoming an orthodontic therapist very early on in my nursing career.  Back in early 2010 I was working in a general dental practice as a trainee dental nurse and preparing for my national exam, sitting in the classroom discussing potential career options for dental nurses and then this was it – for the first time I heard about a new opportunity – orthodontic therapy. I whispered to my classmate next to me to forget hygiene – I wanted to be an orthodontic therapist! I had very limited knowledge and no experience in orthodontics but it was that day when I started to develop my dream.

One step closer

In September 2010 my name appeared on the GDC register – yes! I was one step closer to getting where I wanted to be. All I needed to do was to get out there and learn about orthodontics. I knew my chances would be limited working in one orthodontic practice. What if they didn’t have the interest or resources to actually train someone? After taking some time and thinking about what I could offer as a qualified dental nurse I decided to set up my own one-person, locum agency.

 ‘The man who achieves makes many mistakes but never makes the biggest mistake of all – doing nothing’ – Benjamin Franklin

There was a huge niche for a regular locum nurse who could cover short/long term absences of permanent members of a team. In October 2010 ‘temp nurse’ was born. I sent 500 letters to general dental practitioners and orthodontic practices in and around my area offering my services and I set up a Google calendar for my potential clients to check my availability. Throughout my first month as a temp nurse I received bookings only from general dental practices and so I needed to wait and hope for my name to circulate in the right places.

Introduction to orthodontics

In November 2010 the ideal phone call came from a respected local orthodontic practice looking for six months cover and from a specialist who was willing to introduce me to orthodontics. This was the person who I could try to absorb all his knowledge from and for whom I will always be immensely thankful. He made me an immediate offer, for which I was extremely thankful.

Soon I realised that getting into therapy was not going to be an easy journey; it is not just about dedication, experience, and knowledge, it is about networking and getting the right people to know you.

Throughout the next few years working as a locum nurse I had the pleasure of working with many esteemed orthodontists who gave me support and encouragement throughout, as well as some permanent job offers – but none as a trainee orthodontic therapist. Everybody knew about my desire and determination to pursue this career path but I had moments where I thought that perhaps I should reconsider. Four years went by and even though I had gained experience, knowledge and additional qualifications, and most of all I was surrounded by people who potentially had my future in their hands, I felt as if I was getting nowhere. It was then that I received the one phone call in October 2014, the phone call that I had waited on for years. It felt as if it was a dream, a dream that I did not want to wake from… the offer of sponsorship and mentoring. I was on the way to pursue my dream job.

Be careful what you wish for…

The sleepless nights started straight away. The application process was fairly straightforward but time was crucial – current openings were in two respectable dental hospitals. I was offered a place in both and I felt as if I had it all. I was so proud to be accepted into the most prestigious institution in the UK.

My journey then started for real. I was driving up the M1 on my way to meet my fellow trainee orthodontic therapists and I was petrified, anxious and in tears. I was panicking; I was about to live with strangers in student accommodation 200 miles from home leaving everything behind, everything that was so perfect.

I arrived at my accommodation a fish out of water. It was awful – a small dark single room in an apartment block in a rundown area. I did meet some lovely people who were all missing home and struggling just as much as I was but it was during this time that I came close to my breaking point. I no longer felt like myself and all I wanted was to go home.

I was desperate to leave despite getting lots of support from fellow trainees. I decided to keep my head in the books and to study all the time. I found that my fascination with orthodontics was still there and that this was the one thing that kept away my thoughts of quitting.

I separated myself from all the girls which I now see was a selfish approach and not very healthy. Deep down I knew they were always there for me and of course I was there for them – but for some reason I felt as if I was a spare part. It felt like everyone except me could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Living the dream

Eventually it was time, time to go home and start working as a trainee orthodontic therapist. Life seemed good again. I was home surrounded by loving family, friends and a very supportive husband.

The moment then came.  My first patient in my own surgery and I was sitting on the ‘other chair’ bonding braces, my hands shaking, hot flushes, and some self doubt. Am I actually capable of doing this?!  I wanted to run, run as fast and as far as possible! I soon realised my main psychological hurdle – I was no longer that successful nurse, I was a trainee. It was my beginning and I was out of my comfort zone. However, very soon I started to learn how to cope in challenging situations. I was taking and absorbing knowledge from my mentor and everyone I knew in orthodontics. It was so exciting – I was seeing patients and making changes to their lives. I was moving teeth! Everything started to fall in place – anchorage, torque; everything that seemed to be impossible to understand started to become clear. I not only knew the theory, I actually understood – it was magical.

In October 2016 I qualified as an orthodontic therapist working alongside a very successful and reputable consultant orthodontist who has introduced me to more advanced procedures and yes I believe that dreams come true.

To anyone who is sharing the same dream, work hard and develop your talent. And if anyone asks – yes I would do it again.