My army career began when I applied and was successful in gaining a student cadetship from the Royal Army Dental Corps (RADC). The financial aid was helpful, but the job security during final year was the real godsend. When my peers were applying for and attending job interviews, I was able to concentrate on finals.
Following my graduation as a dentist from Newcastle University, I attended the professionally qualified officers course at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. The course is intense and challenges you, with the purpose of uncovering your full potential. However, there are few prouder moments than marching onto the parade square for the final parade knowing that you made it.
I did my foundation training with the Army in Fallingbostel, Germany, which was brilliant. There is such a good community life when you are stationed abroad and it provides the opportunity to easily explore mainland Europe. The military foundation training scheme had a great amount of teaching time on a wide range of subjects with some very highly qualified individuals providing tuition. By the end of the year, I was very confident clinically and ready to move onto new challenges.
Dental Centre Aldershot, home of the Army, was to be my next adventure. This started with me completing the next stage of my army training, which followed on from the teaching given in Sandhurst but centred on medical planning. It was then back into dentistry.
Aldershot is a large dental centre with the Centre for Restorative Dentistry, the specialist centre for military dentistry, in the same building. This was perfect for increasing my dental knowledge with the clinicians being more than happy to offer advice and assistance.
An incredible experience
This assignment also saw me practice deployed dentistry. In 2013, I participated in a five-week medical exercise in Kenya. We deployed to various locations within Kenya providing medical and dental care to the population, as well as teaching to aid with future healthcare in the community. It was an incredible experience, working with a medical regiment and providing dentistry in an austere environment.
In 2015, I deployed to Sierra Leone on Operation Gritrock. This saw me and my dental nurse setting up a dental clinic from scratch, providing emergency and routine dental care to soldiers and entitled civilians, and collapsing the dental centre at the end of the deployment.
The four months were unbelievable. Being able to support our troops who were aiding Sierra Leone in their fight against Ebola was a real privilege. We were also able to widen our military and medical knowledge by conducting training with the medical centre and jungle training with the Infantry.
Deliver the best care
On returning to the UK, after some well-deserved leave, I moved to my current job as the dental officer for Four Armoured Medical Regiment.
My initial challenge was to captain the nordic ski team, taking them on six exercises in four different countries over the winter, culminating in winning the Army Medical Services championship. Organising the ski team really tested me as I had little previous experience of managing soldiers overseas. But that is the enjoyment of being in the military – there are always new challenges and experiences to be had.
This highlights the brilliant chances I have had as a military dentist, but one of the biggest benefits is the way we are able to provide dentistry when we are not deployed overseas. I am able to deliver the best care I can without the tight constraints of time and money. I get a real sense of pride being able to provide good quality dentistry for those who enter my surgery.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Army to date and I cannot wait to see what future opportunities will come my way.
If you want a dentistry career where you’ll learn more, and do more, than you ever thought possible, speak to someone today about opportunities in the RADC.
For more information, search Army Medical Services, call 0121 6336450 or email [email protected]
Captain Dobie joined the Army in 2011 after qualifying as a dentist from the University of Newcastle. She attended Army Officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and dental foundation training in Germany, making the most of the opportunity for travel. During her career, she has taken part in exercises in Kenya, captained the Army Medical Services’ Nordic Ski Team, and deployed to Sierra Leone as part of the fight against Ebola.