Women’s Health Week Sept 7-11, 2020

This week I was reminded that it is Dr Jean Hailes AM ‘Women’s Health Week’ (7-11th September, 2020); a week dedicated to all women across Australia to make good health a priority.

Dr Hailes was a GP who established the first women’s health clinic in Australia, dedicated to midlife and menopausal women; one of the first clinics in the world. 

A friend of mine, who is a healthcare worker, told me Jean was the school captain of Melbourne Girls Grammar in 1943 and during her own years at this school she learnt of Jean’s legacy and it was very inspiring. A true depiction of determination and resilience. 

Dr Hailes was vocal about women’s health issues at a time when it was rarely acknowledged or talked about. From the jeanhailes.org.au website:

  • Know the facts – how it affects your body and emotions and what can be done
  • Keep yourself fit – in order to have a happy and productive life
  • Find a good doctor to talk to – if his or her attitude doesn’t suit you, find one who does
  • Ask for a second opinion – it’s your body and your life 

If a woman is in good health, her family, community and the society around her also benefit.” Dr Jean Hailes

As a female dentist, surrounded and supported by a very large female team and a woman in her midlife, this story really speaks to me. 

So this week I’m reflecting on my journey and women who have being fundamental to my success, education and health.

Starting with my mother who was a tireless seven day a week example of what a woman can achieve in her career and family. A trailblazer in the real estate industry, which was male dominated in the 1970s-80s. An example to her four daughters, who were always told that it didn’t matter what we wanted to do, as long as we gave it our best effort and still supports us tirelessly today.

My first professional mentor Ms Erica King (Life Lessons with Erica King) who has inspired, pushed and challenged me to extraordinary heights like winning The WA Telstra Business Woman’s Award in 2001. I’m not sure Erica truly realises what a difference she has made and still makes, to my life today. She was the first woman outside of my family who really opened my eyes to the endless possibilities for women. Erica is still a true friend and mentor today.

The female dentists and specialists at Smile Solutions who I worked with over seven years. These women helped me rediscover dentistry and showed me their extraordinary skills and dedication to excel and be leaders in the health industry. It inspired me to create a study club so we could share their knowledge with our dental peers and take the encouragement and learning to higher levels. There’s nothing like shared knowledge of success, failures and triumphs with your dental peers. Especially good for your mental health to know you are not alone and you’re supported.

The above photo is some of the women I now work with at Nova Dental Melbourne (by Maven Dental).

It may surprise many to think about it, but dentistry is a female dominated industry. Almost all of our support staff are women and these women are the unsung heroes of many dentists’ success. I’ve learnt compassion, patience, communication and patient centric treatment from these women. Their quiet devotion as they toil next to me or deal with my patients at the front desk is something I will be forever grateful for. I end every day taking the time to thank them for everything they give to make my life better.

And finally to the women who I have been surrounded by all my life. Be it my best friends or new friends, who are open, generous with their time and honest with their opinions and communication. These women complete me and contribute in all ways to my health and wellbeing.

So during Women’s health week 2020 what are your reflections and what are you doing to look after yourself and other women? 

Who are the women who have inspired and pushed you to your best?

Because in this very moment I realise one of the main reasons I have my health is because of the village of women who have supported me all the way.

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