Forging a career in orthodontics thanks to master’s degree from UoM

Layan Mehyar is a graduate from the MSc Orthodontics programme at The University of Manchester. Layan is originally from Jordan and has returned home since graduating from Manchester to work as an Assistant Professor in a dental school. Manchester will always have a special place in her heart though, and below she discusses everything from the mancunian weather to her dissertation project…

Oh Manchester! Four years later, yet still clearly, and undoubtedly, one of the best choices and experiences of my life. While at dental school in my native Amman, Jordan, I developed a keen interest in Orthodontics. I had realized that, through orthodontic treatment, one could absolutely turn people’s lives around. That’s how my passion to pursue a career in orthodontics emerged and I owe it to the University of Manchester for giving me the tools and the chance to get to where I am today.

Arriving in Manchester, I didn’t really know what to expect, although I kept on hearing about the weather being ‘unpredictable and wet’. I was pleasantly surprised to feel at home from the very first day. I discovered that I had joined a community of like-minded students, and proceeded to live through new experiences and develop new skills, all of which allowed me to grow as a person and equipped me to be a successful professional. Three years after my arrival, I still complained about the weather (perhaps signalling my complete immersion into the local culture!) but my love and admiration for Manchester was by now palpable.

The MSc course provides students with a didactic, practical and clinical teaching experience which covers all aspects of modern orthodontic practice. What I found unique about the course was the prominence given to implementing the latest and highest quality evidence into guidelines for our everyday work. A key foundation for sound clinical practice is to put into effect evidence-based orthodontics.

The submission of a research dissertation is an MSc requirement and we were given sufficient time, guidance and support to select and complete work on our chosen research topic. The course organisers do care about your professional aspirations as orthodontists, and, therefore, the course specifically prepares students for the Membership in Orthodontics (MOrth) examination of the United Kingdom Royal Surgical Colleges.

I was fortunate to be able to practice in two busy yet well-organised hospital departments; this offered the opportunity to manage the full spectrum of patients including treating complex orthodontic cases. All the while, I was learning from working with some of the most experienced professors and clinicians in the UK. Initially, it was somewhat challenging to establish a rapport with patients and especially to understand the nuances of the Mancunian accent. Never one to be disheartened, within a few months on the course I began to sport this accent myself.

After very reluctantly bidding farewell to my many friends and colleagues, I returned home to Jordan where I was offered the post of assistant professor at one of the two national dental schools, the Jordan University of Science & Technology. I immensely enjoyed supervising and tutoring these budding young dentists and imparting some of the knowledge I had gained at Manchester.

I also set about establishing my own private orthodontic practice in Amman, which I called ‘Taqweem’, meaning ‘form’ or ‘alignment’ in Arabic. My responsibilities span everything from balancing my books to planning my treatments. It is still true that each day does bring on new learning experiences, and one must be humble enough to recognize those, yet I also draw confidence from the training I had undergone at Manchester and pleasure from seeing the results on my many patients’ faces.

As a former graduate, my advice to prospective students considering an MSc in Orthodontics is to exercise a high degree of self-awareness, to love what you do and to be committed to pursuing it. You will find that Manchester is a great place to thrive and to learn. The support you will receive from the teachers, professors and everyone involved in your educational journey will surpass your highest expectations and, in turn, so will you.

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