Chris Yelland – BSc (Hons) Emergency Care; BDS Dental Surgery graduate

Current Employer: Lostwithiel Dental Surgery

Current Job Title: Foundation Dentist

Current Location: Cornwall

“My advice would be to get as much work experience as possible, both in dental practices and hospitals. What really helps is having as much exposure to a variety of patients as possible, which helps you to understand the patient procedure as a whole – not just the mouth!”

Tell us what you have been doing since completing your studies.

Whilst completing my Emergency Care degree, I continued to work as a Paramedic and therefore continued to employ the advanced clinical skills gained through the course. This led me to want to progress further clinically and thus enrol onto the Dental Surgery course at Plymouth; whilst perhaps not the most natural progression, the skills acquired in my first degree certainly helped me on my new path.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

Paramedicine was traditionally a vocational based training programme when I started in 2001, and this was initially the path that I took. With the development of Higher Education courses within the field came more options to diversify. When I initially started the Emergency Care degree, my intention was to pursue a career in urgent and emergency healthcare; however, as opportunities arose I found that I wanted to change my career path into dentistry. Following a competitive application process I was lucky enough to be able to undertake my dental training in Plymouth: a university that I was already familiar with.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

Prior to completing my dental degree, I had a full-time job as a paramedic. Although I really enjoyed this job, after 15 years, I was ready for a new challenge. Taking the leap back into full-time study and quitting work was daunting; however, studying at Plymouth allowed me to live at home with my family and work part-time. Everything worked out perfectly and, in the end, I am now ready for a variety of new challenges of a different kind.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Being in healthcare in one form or another is a great opportunity to help others. Whilst paramedicine and dentistry are quite different, both allow you to help patients. Both careers have allowed me to meet some amazing people from all sorts of backgrounds and help them in different ways.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?

Although my path into dentistry was somewhat unconventional, I was glad to have had the experience and grounding that paramedicine gave me. Both are different careers and I still enjoy each of them. Although I am now a full-time dentist, I still enjoy working as a part-time bank paramedic from time to time.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

Dentistry is a very ‘hands-on’ job which involves a lot of problem solving, which are the aspects that I enjoy the most. My advice would be to get as much work experience as possible, both in dental practices and hospitals. What really helps is having as much exposure to a variety of patients as possible, which helps you to understand the patient procedure as a whole – not just the mouth! For me, my previous job as a paramedic really helped.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

Plymouth was a natural choice for me, having already studied there. I was lucky that there was a university on my doorstep that offered the degree that I wanted to do. On top of this, as a new school, the facilities and course structure were fantastic. Studying locally allowed me to fulfil my dreams without disrupting my young family.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

Being close to home allowed me to have a great home-study balance. I met lots of nice new people from around the country (and world), all with a variety of experiences and backgrounds. The South West is a great place to live and study.

Do you stay in touch with other Plymouth University alumni or lecturers?

I have been lucky enough to secure a job in the local area, which involves a weekly training session. These sessions are facilitated by many of the expert staff from the University, using familiar university facilities. For me, this will allow me to stay in close contact with many of the staff, making the transition into full-time employment easier knowing I have close support.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?

Yes. The dental facilities are second to none, very modern, and with all the latest equipment. I know that these are often the envy of students from other universities. The structure of the course is also great, allowing early patient contact from year one which builds a great foundation.

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

No matter how long your degree is, it will go quickly. Enjoy your time and make the most of the opportunities which come your way.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying dental surgery, please visit our BDS Dental Surgery course page. For more information about our range of courses within the Plymouth University Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, including BSc (Hons) Dental Therapy and Hygiene, please visit the school page.

Want to find similar alumni?

If you would like to find out what other alumni from Plymouth University Schools of Medicine and Dentistry are currently doing, please visit the medicine and dentistry interest area.