I had lived in England my whole life. I was living the life I’d always dreamt of having. We’d just moved into our forever home after converting two quintessentially English farm cottages (that my husband grew up in) into our home. My childhood dream of owning my own horse and keeping him at our farm had come true just 18 months earlier. Then, we decided to move our whole life and family to Bentonville, Arkansas, in 2016, when my husband was offered an expat assignment.
Qualifying as a dentist in 2000 from Newcastle University and then completing my postgraduate general dentistry training through the University of Oxford, I was a family dentist for four years until I found my way into orthodontics. Under the guidance of the best possible mentor (boss and friend) that I could have asked for, my knowledge and passion for orthodontics never stopped growing. He gave me the best possible opportunity as a young woman in dentistry, and this turned into my perfect job. Telling him that I was leaving to move to America was one of the hardest and most emotional work conversations that I’ve had.
Rewarding and Stressful
Moving countries has been one of the best things that we have done as a family, but it’s also been one of the most stressful challenges too! One of the biggest hurdles for me was the loss of my professional identity as a woman in dentistry. I had gone from being known as “Karen the dentist” to being defined by my relationships with other people. Now, I was “Josh’s wife” or “the girls’ mum”. I knew that something was missing, but I didn’t quite know what. I remember thinking at the time that if I could only ask Google what I needed, I would have the answer to follow the right path.
Transferring a dental qualification into the United States is not a simple or straightforward process. Combined with the fact that my visa didn’t allow me to work presented me with options for a new life. This, in itself, was a privilege that not many people have the option to do, and I was determined to make the most of it.
Where was my purpose?
I was a full-time mum for the first time, and being able to concentrate on my family 100% definitely felt like a luxury. I was proud to be on top of everything in the house so that our evenings were no longer taken up with jobs that needed doing. However, I missed my patients and the relationships being in dentistry provided. I volunteered at Horses for Healing and Arkansas Children’s Hospital Northwest. These opportunities gave me the time to really understand what it was that made me happy. What had given me a sense of purpose. It all came down to the idea that I love transformations. Whether that is taking a set of crooked teeth and aligning them into a beautiful smile. Or helping entertain a sick child in the hospital to brighten their day.
I decided to train as a professional life coach. After many hours of training, practice coaching, and a few exams, I am now a Whole Person Certified Coach. I am accredited with the International Coaching Federation as an Associate Certified Coach.
It’s a juggle
After receiving a work permit, I set up ‘Balanced Doctor’ where I support dentists, physicians, and healthcare professionals to succeed professionally and thrive personally. Using my unique combination of firsthand experience in the dental profession and my life coaching skills, I want to help people live the life that they want now and not later. I know what it’s like to juggle career, home and family yet feel that you could always be doing more for each one! We can be so busy being the ‘doctor’ there is little room for anything else in our life. I want to help both women and men in all health professions address this now. Before they wake up one day to discover life has passed them by.
My transatlantic journey has seen doors close and new ones open. I left a career I loved and have found myself back in the world of dentistry but with a brand new perspective. Instead of helping my patients, it’s my honour to support all the dental and medical people who do so much good for the world. This is my way of giving back to a profession that I loved.
Dr. Karen is back but in a whole new way!