Amy Hambly-Symons

Access to HE Diploma: Science

HE Progression:  BSc Dental Therapy and Hygiene Cardiff University

Using her expert skills to treat children and adults with a range of special care needs such as dental phobia, newly qualified dental therapist and hygienist, Amy Hambly-Symons is in love with her position at West Country Dental Care where she spends three days of the week. The rest of Amy’s week is spent at a practice in St Ives as a Hygienist.

It took travelling, a ski season and a variety of career paths for Amy to find the perfect career. It all changed for Amy when, following her mother’s footsteps, she fell into a career as a dental nurse. Achieving the highest score in the UK for both her nursing and radiology exams, a light-bulb moment occurred and Amy realised that this was the career path for her.  The thought of doing two years of A Levels was a daunting prospect but Amy was determined to find a way. Luckily, a chance conversation with a colleague at the dental practice introduced Amy to the idea of completing an Access to Higher Education Diploma.

Following the conversation, Amy attended a College Open Event and met with Jolene Hogan, the Programme Leader for the Access to Science Diploma. Discussing the finer details of the course, Amy was delighted to be informed that as she was over 24 she qualified for an Advanced Learner Loan, which could be ‘written off’ if she went on to complete a Higher Education course. Further more, the qualification could be gained within one academic year, which was a much shorter time scale than expected. This information sealed the deal for Amy, who said that after the Open Event she calculated that “financially I knew I would be okay because the debt really worried me”.

Starting her course in September 2014, Amy took classes in Biology, Chemistry and Maths, with a little Physics. The structure of the Access course running for three days in the week meant that she could spend three days a week still working as a dental nurse and also some part-time work on Sundays. “It was a very busy 10 months,” laughed Amy.

Although busy, the Access course was definitely the right choice for Amy, who said: “I cannot praise the Access to Science course enough, it was really confidence building but also really helped with my degree because everything that it covered was very relevant to what I did at uni. I learned referencing, presentation, writing and laboratory skills.”

Achieving Distinction grades in all her modules on the Access course, Amy went on to study the BSc Dental Therapy and Dental Hygiene at Cardiff University and graduated with a First Class Honours and won a monetary Research Prize for her final year of study on ‘The Links between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Periodontitis (gum disease)’, having previously achieved the highest grades in the UK in her dental nurse and radiology July 2018. Amy said: “I will be forever grateful to Truro College. I should have gone there in the first place really.”