Ask The Staff – Dr James Puryer

An afternoon with Dr James Puryer.

  1. Dr Puryer with Mariya Rana and Reena Rishi
    Dr Puryer with Mariya Rana and Reena Rishi

    What excites you most about dentistry?

Treating head and neck cancer patients is what I enjoy the most. They have had a raw deal and are particularly deserving and I find it satisfying being part of their rehabilitation. I find the restorative rehabilitation of these challenging as they often have altered anatomy as well as other dental issues, so you have to alter your management of these patients accordingly. For example, how am I going to take an impression of a patient who cannot fully open their mouth? Will they tolerate the prosthesis?

  1. What did you enjoy doing in your spare time while training at dental school?

I expect that you know that I have had an interest in magic for many years. I spent a lot of time at weekends performing shows, sometimes four or five a week and this also financially helped me through my studies, enabling me to qualify without a student loan or overdraft. It was great to earn money from a hobby.

  1. Where did you perform?

Private parties including children’s birthday parties and schools.

  1. Who sparked your interest in magic?

Paul Daniels (who sadly passed away recently) had a magic series on BBC1 on Saturdays for many years when I was I child, and this had a huge influence on me. I guess that Dynamo is the modern-day equivalent.

  1. What would you have done if not dentistry?

That’s easy – an airline pilot. I love flying, and about 10 years I was getting seriously disillusioned with dentistry. I started my pilot training in the U.S. and I did seriously think about doing this as a career instead of dentistry, however, due to the financial burden and low employment chances afterwards, I considered that it was too much of a gamble. I have left it too late now, but thankfully now enjoy dentistry and teaching again.  I still enjoy flying socially. 

  1. Which countries have you been to?

A lot of countries within Europe. Outside of Europe; Caribbean and the U.S. I have no intention going far at present with two young children in tow, and there is plenty to see closer to home. My holiday nightmare is lying on a beach or by a hotel pool for 2 weeks, which I would find so boring. I prefer exploring areas such as the Lake District, Snowdonia and places which offer mountaineering experiences. I completed the 3 peaks challenge here in the UK a few years ago. Austria and France are great places for skiing in the winter and hiking and mountain biking in the summer.

  1. What do you to relax then?

Cycling and hill walking mainly, and also geocaching (a bit like treasure hunting) with my children. I’m trying to keep active myself, and also hopefully set a good example to them.

  1. What was your most embarrassing moment during dental school?

The one that I can repeat… When we were undergraduates we all had white tunics that had ‘poppers’ down the side. During a tutorial on ADH, one of my friends came up behind me and put his hands around me from behind, grabbed both sides of the tunic, and just stepped backwards leaving me semi-naked on clinic. I wasn’t even wearing anything underneath. I’m still friends with him, and can see the funny side of it now.

  1. Was there anyone else at dental school who you trained with?

Tamara Khayatt was in my year. A lot of staff who are teaching you taught me including Susan Hooper, Robert Miller, Stuart Chadwick, David Rockey, and Louise Foster was my personal tutor. It shows how dedicated some of the staff are here. 

  1. What do you wish you knew when you were our age regarding a career in dentistry?

If you are planning on specialising do it earlier rather than later. I stayed on as an associate after VT and time flew by, whilst colleagues of mine went on to become consultants. It’s much easier to specialise and undertake training earlier on.

  1. Wanted to ask you about your family, how did you meet your wife?

I met her at a pub 2 years after qualifying. I was just sat there with friends and she walked in and I thought she looked very nice. We’ve been together for 15 years now and have 2 children; Sophie (aged 5) and Daniel (aged 3). I put on a magic show for my little girl’s 5th birthday party last weekend which she really enjoyed. I had to hunt for the props in the attic which had been there for years. I try to spend as much time with them as I can.

  1. Do you have any pets?

Yes I have a cat.

  1. Mariya: Omg what kind of cat is it? Can I see a picture?

A male, ginger and white cat. (Shows photo)

  1. You always seem so calm and collected, how do you do this?

It’s an act a bit like my magic. Sometimes you see something on the outside but on the inside it’s very different!

  1. If you were a dental instrument what would you be and why?

A glass slab. Cool and collected.

  1. Which celebrity would you like in your dental chair?

Rachel Riley 

  1. Do you remember your clinical crush?

Of course I remember, they left a lasting impression. It was an SHO, but I won’t reveal her name.

  1. Lastly, if you could work anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Probably here in England – not a very exciting answer – sorry!

  1. One more thing, did A.J’s mankini land on you at last year’s review or was it just a rumour?

I’d like to think he didn’t throw it at me intentionally, but it landed very close to me!

  1. Thank you for your time (and coffee), do you have any questions for us?

What are your career plans once you qualify?

(Don’t worry we won’t bore you with that.)

We appreciated Dr Puryer’s time and really enjoyed not being on the receiving end of a dental interview.

By Reena Risha and Mariya Rana

Additional question for Dr Puryer from the previous interviewee Professor Peter Robinson.

If you could change anything about dentistry, what would it be?

I would change the mouthrinse tablets to blue – they have been pink for far too long!

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