Community Dental Services CIC dental therapists secure first ever DCP Fellowships in the Midlands and East regions

08 July 2022
7 min read
Published:
Left to right Jyoti Sumel, Jason Wong MBE (chief dental officer for England), Monica Matanda, Deborah Manager (HEE)
Left to right Jyoti Sumel, Jason Wong MBE (chief dental officer for England), Monica Matanda, Deborah Manager (HEE)

Published in memory of Monica Matanda, who sadly passed away in April this year, while following this Fellowship Programme.  This is shared with kind permission from her family. Monica was a wonderful colleague and is greatly missed by those who knew her.

Patient quote: 'Monica is amazing, she is so welcoming, kind, softly spoken and brilliant at her job!'

Jyoti Sumel is a dental therapist who currently splits her time between clinical practice with CDS and Health Education England (HEE) Clinical Fellowship Scheme.

Together with Monica Matanda, she started her fellowship in September 2021, enabling the development of strategic leadership and management skills. Currently working on a project on behalf of the Office of the Chief Dental Officer (OCDO), they are among the first dental care professionals to participate in the scheme.

Monica is a Dental Clinical Leadership Fellow.

Monica began her dental career in 2006 as a dental nurse before becoming a dental therapist and joined CDS-CIC Nottinghamshire in 2011.

She completed her BSc in oral health sciences at the University of Dundee and in her second year was awarded student of the year for achieving the best academic results. She was part of the first cohort of dental therapists to graduate with a postgraduate diploma in paediatric dentistry from the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh.

Monica completed the SAAD (Society for the Advancement of Anaesthesia in Dentistry) course and worked with the lead sedation dentist to prove the concept and need for sedation trained dental therapists within the Nottingham service. As a result, all the Therapists within Nottingham CDS now provide Inhalation Sedation. She also completed the BAME Stepping up Programme with the NHS Leadership Academy.

Monica also volunteered with Dentaid to provide free treatment in Zimbabwe and was recently formally admitted to the College of General Dentistry as an associate fellow.

Jyoti is a Dental Clinical Transformation Fellow.

Jyoti has worked as a Dental Therapist since July 2016 and joined CDS-CIC Leicestershire in 2018.

She completed her BSc in oral health sciences in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis with the University of Highlands and Islands.

In 2016/7, Jyoti completed her Dental Therapist Vocational Training with NHS Education for Scotland and is currently completing her Inhalation Sedation Training with CDS-CIC. She has been involved in a pilot of Reciprocal Mentoring with HEE and the In-diverse company and has just started a master’s in Public Health and Leadership.

Jyoti has also volunteered with the Schoolhouse Abroad Charity to provide free dental treatment in India.

Monica and Jyoti feel extremely honoured and proud to have secured the fellowship positions, which are some of the first ever fellowships open to DCPs. Together they are the first DCP fellows in the Midlands and East region.

Monica said, “It is one of the most amazing opportunities I have ever had in my career. I would like to thank CDS and HEE for opening this door up to DCPs”

We caught up with Monica and Jyoti to find out more about their fellowships.

The Fellowship

The fellowship is a seconded post provided through CDS-CIC offered by HEE. Our fellowship work is reported and presented to HEE.

Reporting to both CDS and HEE allows for a lot of flexibility in our week to allow us to attend any mandatory training within CDS that may fall on fellowship days and vice versa. Each fellow is assigned mentors for support and advice through our fellowship and regular one-to-one meetings are carried out to discuss any projects and future aspirations. 

The fellowship positions involve experimental project work and developing strategic, leadership and management skills.To aid in their development fellows will also complete leadership courses. 

What inspired / motivated you to apply for the Fellowship?

Monica says, “I am highly motivated and very keen to progress myself and my career. Traditionally, there has been a lack of opportunities for DCPs to progress as there have not been many clear career pathways after completing undergraduate training. I was very excited when this opportunity came up, as including DCPs in Leadership development is a step in the right direction in removing barriers so that diversity and inclusion are valued, and ensuring everyone, from the whole dental team, can contribute.” 

Jyoti explains, “I was inspired and motivated to apply for the fellowship as I saw the prospect to become a leader as a dental therapist. It is one of the first times this opportunity has been available to DCP’s to apply, and I want to be a strong voice and leader for DCP’s.”  

Through the Fellowship, Monica and Jyoti are hoping to gain more of a leadership role as a dental therapist. Excited to have this opportunity, they are looking forward to being able to make changes and be a strong voice for DCPs at crucial meetings and within projects.

Monica comments, “All the projects I have chosen link into promoting and developing DCPs. I am working on creating DCP networks and support groups. I am very much looking forward to seeing how these changes will benefit DCPs.”

Jyoti adds, “The entire fellowship is an exciting opportunity with the prospect of networking, learning new skills, and transforming dentistry. The most exciting part of the fellowship for me is providing my insight, being able to lead on projects, and making changes; for example, we have been involved with making the Learning from Patient Safety Events recording pathway (LFPSE) more relevant to entistry.  I would recommend it to anyone interested in leadership or transformation to look into a fellowship. It is a substantial change to clinical dentistry, but the fellowship provides you with the tools and scenarios to learn.”  

Monica and Jyoti are currently working on various projects:

Project Sphere - Learning from Patient Safety Events is a joint project between Monica and Jyoti. They are collaborating with the chief dental officer, Jason Wong, and are working on improving and promoting the current reporting pathway Learning From Patient Safety Events (LFPSE). They would like to provide a support system for the entire dental team following on from a Patient Safety Event, and to initiate a cultural shift that moves away from the current blame culture towards a fair, learning culture.

They hope that patient safety events will be learning experiences for the whole dental team. Monica and Jyoti have created huddle sheets that they are encouraging use of to improve communication amongst teams as well as encourage reflective learning from a safety event. They presented Project Sphere at the BDIA Dental Showcase.  

The Practice Manager Network is another joint project that sees Monica and Jyoti working with Peter Thornley (chair of Birmingham and Solihull Local Dental Network, NHSE/I), to produce a Practice Manager Network that provides support and development to dental practice managers who may work in isolation. The purpose is to explore how a Practice Manager Network would help with communication between practices and the NHS. They are also collaborating with HEE study groups. 

Monica is working with Professor Nick Barker (University of Essex – clinical lecturer in MSc periodontology, Essex LDN chair) on development of the Advanced Clinical Practitioner. It will be a three-year Level 7 qualification and part of the Advancing Dental Care Review. She is also working with Nottingham LDN chair Pavni Lakhani on a project developing a DCP Network for the Midlands region. The aim is to improve multi dental professional engagement and provide support to DCPs. They want to explore how a DCP network would help with communication and engagement. They hope to improve how information is cascaded/shared and develop strong DCP links that are well supported and envisage by the end of the project they will have raised awareness of LDNs, LDCs and MCNs. They would like to have DCP representation at the various MCN specialities and at least one DCP representative at LDN meetings.  

How important are Fellowships for Dentistry?  

Monica points out, “Fellowships are extremely important in dentistry. They involve enhanced leadership development which cannot be developed in surgery. Clinical fellows develop in depth knowledge in policy, project management, communication skills and stakeholder engagement by leading projects. Clinical Fellows also gain knowledge into commissioning of dentistry through the various meetings that we attend. Fellowships are essential to the development of future leaders in dentistry.”

Jyoti elaborates, “Fellowships are very important in dentistry as they provide new skills outside of clinical dentistry. It allows a balance between clinical and non-clinical work. There are study clubs provided to the fellows to learn about various subjects such as epidemiology, project management and research, led by the fellows and their mentors.” 

The Benefits of a Fellowship.

Reflecting on her experience Monica says, Since I started my fellowship, I have grown immensely both personally and professionally. The fellowship has improved my confidence, negotiation, and communication skills. I have greater understanding and knowledge of leadership in dentistry, and I am developing several qualities that will make me a good future dental leader. I am being mentored by highly respected leaders within Health Education England, NHS England and Improvement, and the office of the chief dental officer (England). I have gained the confidence to put myself forward for opportunities that I would not have considered before.  

“As a Dental Therapist in CDS, I will bring in a range of unique insights and skills including leadership and management, project management, research and analysis. I will also have access to professional networks across dentistry and the skills required to lead positive changes that keep up with current developments within dentistry.  

“I hope my fellowship will benefit patients. I aim to influence changes within CDS that will improve patient access by utilising the skill mix we currently have within CDS. We have a lot of talented DCPs with extended duties that I feel can be utilised to benefit patients as well as improve job satisfaction. I think overall as a dental therapist I will continue to provide excellent clinical care, the knowledge and understanding of the wider dental profession, current challenges and developments will help to enhance how I communicate with patients and other health care professionals involved in their care.”

Jyoti explains the fellowship creates unique opportunities, “Since starting in September the fellowship is already benefitting me. I was able to present my project at the BDIA conference with my fellow colleague Monica, which is an opportunity that would have not been available in the past. A three-part series blog by me and Monica has been released on the GDC website, which has raised great interest. We have both now been approached for further writing opportunities.  

The fellowship will benefit CDS as I am able to feed back the latest information. I am able to present what I have learnt and the projects I am working on to my colleagues. It has provided me with more confidence in my CDS clinical role.  

It will benefit the patients as it means I can be a patient voice in meetings. What is fed back to me in appointments and on the ground, I can feedback at MCN/LDN meetings, to improve clinical dentistry.  

Jyoti is seconded to her fellowship role, working two clinical days per week with CDS and two days fellowship with HEE. At the end of her fellowship, she will return to working three clinical days with CDS. “Hopefully the fellowship will open more doors to opportunities. I am looking to enhance my skills in leadership with a PgCert or masters qualification. I have volunteered to set up a mentoring programme for next year’s fellows. I am currently part of a reciprocal mentoring pilot with HEE and I am being mentored by the head of patient safety Hester Wain, as part of the NHS leadership academy.”

Monica and Jyoti’s three-part series of blogs have been featured in the General Dental Council:

  1. Professionalism: working with the dental team to support patients with additional needs
  2. Becoming a dental hygienist or dental therapist
  3. Dental hygiene and dental therapy: skills development and career progression