Inspired to fight for dentistry
Dr Will Rymer is a dentist in private practice in Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, and is a member of the IDA’s GP Committee.
What is your professional background?
I’m originally from Cheltenham in the UK. I qualified from Cardiff University in 2006, as did my wife Sarah, who is from Ireland. I did my vocational training year in a small village just outside Cardiff, and we spent two or three years working in Wales, gaining experience. I had a post in Swansea’s Community Dental Service, and a Senior House Officer position in the Swansea Maxillofacial Unit working under Dr Adrian Sugar. We moved to Ireland in 2009, and worked in mixed general practice, between Limerick, Clare, and Galway, before setting up our own practice in Roscrea in 2018.
What led you to first get involved with the IDA?
I was a member of the IDA, but I had just kind of stayed in my happy little bubble, working in general practice, doing my CPD. I didn’t go to my regional IDA meetings, I just picked and chose what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. But I went to the 2018 Annual Conference, and there were a lot of problems with the DTSS scheme at the time (and still are). Kieran O’Connor gave a very inspiring speech about how the IDA and the GP Committee were advocating for dentists regarding the DTSS contract and with the HSE. That inspired me to get involved. Being from the UK, I’m genetically predisposed to a free at the point of delivery, universal dental care model, so to see what little service we have here being constantly eroded is upsetting. I never saw myself as being totally in private practice, which is where I have now been forced.
How has involvement progressed?
Having started in the GP Committee, I have now got much more involved in the IDA in my own region, which is great. The reason I joined and the reason why I wanted to stay in the committees is to attempt to prevent the schemes from collapsing. A huge portion of the population are in desperate need of a service, and if we allow it to continue the way that it is, there won’t be anything for them. It’s vital to advocate for the profession. We’re a pretty small voice in Ireland, so it’s really important that we come together as much as possible to advocate for a better system. The public deserves access to affordable dentistry and the schemes that are running are collapsing. And all of the other things that the IDA does, the CPD, all those sorts of things, are important.
What has been the single biggest benefit of IDA membership for you?
Coming from a foreign jurisdiction, I don’t have the amazing connections that other dentists have, so joining the IDA really connected me to other members. That collegiality is never more important than now, especially when we’re trying to knock heads together and come up with ideas for how we can improve the situation in Ireland. Even at a regional branch level, it’s nice to be able to come together, at the moment on Zoom, and put faces to names.
How would you like to see the Association progress in the future?
It’s really exciting to be involved in the DTSS negotiations, but I think there are a lot of things that we aspire to for the Association. Right now the issue is that we have to have the right to represent our members fully for collective bargaining. It’s an essential element of a union. I think we need to entice more young dentists, not just to the Association, although I think that’s really important as well, but there’s such a huge number of dentists moving away. I think the training pathways for dentists in Ireland are really restrictive, and a lot of them look elsewhere. It would be great to see some advocacy for young dentists. And to advocate for dental patients, for a system that cares for the vulnerable in society.
Will and Sarah have two children, 10-year-old Isabelle and eight-year-old Harry, and between family and running a practice, he’s kept pretty busy. In his free time he loves to cycle the byways of Tipperary, and he is currently Chairperson of his local cycling club. He looks forward to getting back to their annual trips to Europe to cycle the routes of the major tours.