Women in Medicine Series – Spotlight on NSW Dentist, Dr Lynette Wallace
March 4, 2021
The Credabl team spoke with dentist and owner of her own practice Dr Lynette Wallace about her unusual career trajectory, work-life balance and her experience as a woman in medicine in recognition of International Women’s Day 2021.
Lynette’s career got off to an untraditional start, she finished high school in year 10 and worked in an architectural firm. Following this she returned to high school to complete the HSC. She already had dentistry in mind, inspired by family friends working pro bono overseas. Many dentists we have spoken with quote their first time attending the dentist as children for inspiring their career in dentistry, but Lynette’s first trip to the dentist was at age 16! Following her completion of the HSC Lynette travelled to Asia and Europe for a few months then worked at a major banking firm in Sydney, arming her with the life and business skills she would later need to start her own business.
She studied dentistry at the University of Sydney and graduated in 1994 with second class honours. One especially challenging moment from her university experience was having to repeat her second year over half a mark! This didn’t dampen her spirits though, and she used the opportunity to visit Annapurna in Nepal. She remembers visiting remote villages, meeting locals and teaching kids to brush their teeth with the samples she had brought from Australia. She even had the chance to catch up with her sherpa Om and his family when they visited Australia a year later! Lynette’s story is the perfect example of how with passion and stamina you can enter dentistry, travel and gain experience in other fields simultaneously.
When asked about her experience as a woman studying dentistry, Lynette recalls having an even split of men and women in her course at university. She didn’t feel particularly challenged or like any opportunities came her way due to her gender, but was extremely grateful for the support of the Dean during her repeated year of study. During this year she had the opportunity to work in the Sydney University Biochemistry Department. She recalled having challenging and sometimes abusive experiences with other female medical practitioners during her career, with one going as far as to track her down and complain about completely legal x-ray equipment at the school carpark! These experiences reiterated to her the importance of patience and being a good role model.
After graduating Lynette was fortunate to find a practice in the Southern Highlands that nurtured and mentored her for several years. She then worked solo at a practice in Sydney and experienced what it was like not to have another dentist on staff of whom she could ask questions. Following this Lynette opened a practice with her husband (who she had married right after university), also in the Southern Highlands. Their practice was awarded Southern Highlands Business Awards for Excellence in Customer Service. It was during this time she had children and quickly needed tolearn work-life balance skills. Following marital separation and an amicable parting of ways as business partners, Lynette, now runs her own awarded practice and quotes her supportive team (Credabl’s Mercedes Torres and her accountant Alison Lacey) as a huge factor in the growth of her business. She also now attends the Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dental Studiesconferences in the US and volunteers inYouth with a Mission Ships in Papua New Guinea. On one of her volunteering trips she was able to take her 14 year old daughter to help out in the kitchen, speak with locals and interact with doctors aboard the boat. She is also excited to have begun her Masters in Fotona Laser and purchased her first laser!
In her free time Lynette prioritises spending time with her children. All 3 are at university and have talents in commerce, computer science and fashion design. During COVID her daughter developed a love for rooftop camping on her old Merc, so this has lead to many trips away as a family. She also has a passion for sailing, having competed in the Hobie Worlds sailing competition in Huskerson! Living in the Southern Highlands means she has plenty of access to nature, and walking her three dogs is different each and every day with the diversity of wildlife they encounter together.
Her advice to young women starting out in dentistry is to be a participatory member of your team, stay innovative, always respond to the needs of clients and stay hungry for challenge. She believes picking your team wisely is a sure fire way to be supported in good times and bad. Lynette also highlighted the importance of lifestyle activities like yoga, nature walks, pets, laughter and reading, for their own sake and also to keep you in the best shape to serve your patients.
Responding to the theme of International Women’s Day ‘Choose to Challenge’, Lynette believes she has three practices to share which can help in uplifting other women around the world and in dentistry.
Being a good role model – Lynette thinks it’s a women’s duty to listen, reflect and challenge their assumptions when it comes to calling out problematic behaviours and habits. She has found Anthony Robbins to help to learn this skill.
Helping other women gain power – she feels it’s important to offer opportunities to younger or less experienced people. She has hosted high school and university students in her practice to provoke mutual learning amongst women and intergenerationally.
“Choosing to challenge” her masculine and feminine energies – Lynette thinks it’s important to stay in tune with both and not let either create imbalance in your life.
She is thankful to the women who have come before her and hopes to be able to support all the women in her life as best she can.
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