After completing a five-year Bachelor/Master’s degree in Dentistry, (with the highest weighted average mark across the entire course for her graduating class), primary examinations with the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons, and finally, a Doctor of Clinical Dentistry degree, specialising in orthodontics and achieving first class honours, Bethany Cunning, is well qualified to change people’s lives.
Bethany graduated from Girton in 2009 and is a firm Frew loyalist. Because she was unsure what to do when she left school, she covered all bases in VCE studying, Specialists Maths, Math Methods, Further Maths, English Language, Biology and Chemistry. This broad Maths/Science base served her well and led to undertaking a five-year dentistry course, which she was sure at the time would be quite enough study to sustain her career.
“The idea of adding the primary examinations at the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons and then another three years of specialist training at Melbourne University on top of dentistry never even crossed my mind to begin with.
“But I soon discovered that I loved the orthodontic component of my undergraduate degree and with some encouragement from lecturers and others, the idea of pursuing specialist training came to be.
“Looking back now it has been a lot of hard work and sacrifice and I owe a great deal to my husband, parents and family for supporting me along the way.
“I’m grateful that I was able to undertake my specialist training as I love being an orthodontist and am looking forward to a long career of creating smiles patients can be proud of!” Bethany said.
Bethany grew up on a farm near Swan Hill and then schooled, lived and worked in Bendigo. She has recently returned to Bendigo and says it is exactly where she wants to be.
“I understand the struggles that arise for regional people when access to specialist providers is limited. Being able to return and provide such a service is really rewarding and something I’m proud to be able to do.
“Last year I set up my own specialist orthodontic practice Bendigo, called ‘Central Victorian Orthodontics’. The clinic fit out was recently finalised, and we have started welcoming patients.”
Opening her own clinic has been a long time in the making. After graduating from her undergraduate degree Bethany worked as a general dentist in Bendigo, having spent a large amount of time working as a student in regional community dental clinics, such as Mildura, Wodonga, Melton and Bendigo.
It was during her post-graduate studies, that her desire to become an orthodontist was truly cemented in her mind and her motivation fuelled.
“I worked as a student orthodontist at the Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne, the Melbourne Dental Clinic and the Royal Children’s Hospital.
“Upon graduation as an Orthodontist, I was able to secure a part-time position at the Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne. To be eligible for treatment there, the misalignment of a patient’s teeth must meet a certain level of severity, which understandably results in challenging and complex cases.
“It is very rewarding work, especially when you get to see the difference treatment can make to a patient’s confidence and quality of life.”
Reflecting on her time at Girton, Bethany was grateful her teachers equipped her with the skills needed to pursue further study.
“In terms of memorable Girton teachers, the first that comes to mind is Mrs Ryan. Even though I didn’t particularly enjoy Chemistry, her enthusiasm and support in the classroom was incredible!
“Her energy seemed to rub off on us students and certainly made Chemistry lessons much more enjoyable. She just seemed to go above and beyond to help us achieve our best and I’ve never forgotten her efforts.
“Mr Jones was also hugely influential in his overarching role as Head during my time at Girton.
“I really admired the effort he put in to remembering students’ names and making us feel valued. He also taught us to take pride in ourselves and who we represent, even if that starts by simply tucking in a shirt!
Bethany agrees that a surprising benefit of having attended Girton is that she married Callum Gordon, also a 2009 graduate. Together they have built a house, sold a house, traversed the Simpson Desert, driven the Savannah Way and crossed the Nullarbor. But for now, they are enjoying settling back into life in Bendigo and being near their families again.
For more information about Bethany’s clinic, Central Victorian Orthodontics, go to: www.centralvictorianorthodontics.com.au