Island life for dental couple
Amy and Scott Tulloch met while studying at the Edinburgh Dental Institute. They now provide dental care for the majority of the population in Orkney, being committed to patient care in rural communities.
Having grown up in a small community in Orkney, Scott describes how he and others were instilled with a sense of responsibility to contribute and give something back.
He says: "On commencing my MSc in Primary Dental Care at Edinburgh my immediate focus was to gain the skills that would enable me to establish a comprehensive NHS dental service at home, where dentist recruitment and retention is a struggle."
Scott completed his Masters while living in both Edinburgh and Orkney, and it was in his final year that he met Amy who had arrived to work as a locum on the island. Scott’s enthusiasm for the benefits of the MSc soon influenced Amy to apply too, and she studied via online distance learning while the couple were on sabbatical in New Zealand.
Amy and Scott were wholeheartedly committed to establishing a dental practice that worked for the unique requirements of a rural community like Orkney.
"We did a lot of research and established good relationships with the local health board," says Amy. "It paid off, and through this joined-up approach we have seen dental services on the islands transform from one of the worst to one of the best in Scotland. Living and working in a small community is rewarding – but you never get to go far without being asked work-related questions!"
For Scott, being a student at Edinburgh meant a lot to him as he was following in the footsteps of several family members stretching back to his great-grandfather, William Tulloch.
His connection to Edinburgh continues today beyond his graduation as he is now a tutor on the online distance learning MSc in Dental Primary Care, the same course that Amy graduated from in 2016.
"Without a doubt, the skills, input and relationships obtained from my connection with the Edinburgh Dental Institute and the University as a whole have been significant in this happening," says Scott. "They have given me and appreciation and understanding of the crucial role good dental care plays in society that I enjoy passing on to the students."
Training future dentists
Scott and Amy’s first-hand experience of the recruitment and retention challenges in rural communities inspired their decision to make their own practice a vocational training practice. It attracts young dentists to come and work in Orkney and complete their immediate postgraduate training there.
"We love the opportunity to set the standard for dentistry in rural areas," says Amy. "Our hope is to attract colleagues who will work alongside us for years to come."
Outside of the surgery
Amy and Scott both enjoy the outdoors and travelling, and love Orkney as the perfect setting for all of their favourite activities including sailing, horse riding, hiking and running. They have a four-month-old son, William.
Their connection to the capital remains strong, too, and they regularly take the one hour flight to visit.
"I have many fond memories of my studies at Edinburgh," says Scott. "The Edinburgh Dental Institute was a supportive and fun place to learn and work. I worked and studied alongside talented people from all over the world, which I really enjoyed."
Primary Dental Care
The MSc in primary dental care is a part-time online distance learning postgraduate degree aimed at general dentists who are working in clinics in the local community. It has an international appeal and students participate through a virtual learning environment.