Tracey McFee: Memories of a lifetime
Published on 18 October 2021
Tracey McFee, Class of 1983 and Specialty Dentist for Dental A&E prepares for retirement and reflects on her time in Dundee
Tracey McFee (front left)
As well-known face in the School and Dental Hospital, Tracey McFee, Class of 1983 and Specialty Dentist for Dental A&E prepares for retirement she reflects on her time in Dundee over the years and shares some advice.
“I still am best friends with my university pals Ann Shearer, Romana Iannetta, Sue Barker, and when we are together it is like 1983 all over again – but wilder (we were not wild – I think one of our regrets). 1983 was a good year, a blend of good entertainers and good people- and Prof Mossey kept us entertained with his karate moves on the dance floor.
“I find it ironic that I qualified when AIDS came to light and am retiring when the dental profession is facing yet another viral challenge with Covid-19. There has been other similar challenges during my career- prions, flu, so this is not the first time I have been fitted with an FFP3 mask.
“I was asked by Prof Mossey to comment on my career in Dentistry and add some words of wisdom.
“I love my job – I love fixing patients, helping with their pain, working with our students and with my colleagues; I have very mixed feelings about retiring. I am going on to be a potter and giving lessons on pottery, so will still be working with my hands and with students.
“I was full-time and part-time in dental practice up until 1996, juggling children and work. Practice is hard work and I really admire Dentists who run their own businesses and practice dentistry, but you are your own boss which has its advantages. With Covid-19 I have seen my GDP colleagues, here at Dundee Dental Hospital, adapt and innovate their practices to conform with new guidelines with such professionalism and determination - they were certainly my heroes during the pandemic. The support they also gave Dental A&E, when we were one of the few dental centres open over the initial lockdown, I can never thank them enough for. I have to mention the PDS as well who were brilliant.
“1996 was when I really started enjoying dentistry with my move into Community Dental Service in Arbroath. The CDS at that time was a mix of special care patients, elderly, screening clinics, children’s GA’s, Children’s Secure Unit, special care GA’s and children’s dentistry were all part of the remit.
“I went on to study a MSc in Community Dentistry at Kings College London, over four years by distance learning. With this qualification I was promoted to Senior Dental Officer running Outreach at Dundee Dental Hospital, and Springfield Dental Centre. I then worked towards a Certificate in Medical Education from the University of Dundee. This is a qualification that I recommend to my CTs.
“From there I returned to Dundee Dental Hospital to run A&E. This has been one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of my career. The student’s enthusiasm keeps me motivated, as does the team that surrounds me. I have been very impressed by the outstanding bravery the final years, the CTs the nursing staff, all my colleagues from the first floor and PDS have shown during Covid-19.
“We do not become good at our job only by our own skills, we work as a team. I have been very fortunate to have had wonderful teams surrounding me.
“A special thanks to those who keep me organised (you know who you are) it was never my strongest characteristic! I will be forever grateful to those around me who have made it all possible.
“My advice as I reflect on my career is to....
- Always seek to obtain more qualifications – one day you will need them.
- Recognise your weaknesses as well as your strengths – none of us are perfect.
- Communication and accurate note keeping are vital to reducing complaints in dentistry and so reduces stress.
- Strive to keep physically fit – helps mentally and physically as we only have one body
- Have a hobby that helps you to relax
- Be kind to yourself sometimes we expect too much from ourselves.
- Dentistry is a wonderful career but not an easy one, there are a lot of unpredictable parts to treating a patient successfully.
- And lastly life is a bit like the Japanese art of Kintsugi – whereby being broken makes you stronger and more beautiful.”
Tracey’s life-long friendships, typical of dental alumni, is a reflection of her character, her tremendous loyalty and her love for life – and if they were not a ‘wild’ bunch, they were certainly a fun-loving bunch! Her words of wisdom reflect her caring personality, her respect for her colleagues and her genuine love for the students – Tracey was born to be a Dentist and clearly found it an extremely fulfilling career – and may she find the same in her retirement.
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