Working as a dental assistant straight out of school, Kylie Del Solar always knew she would end up a dentist.
Fast-forward twenty years and the former nurse and mother of six now has her own busy dental practice in rural North Queensland.
“The decision to study dentistry came from many years of having a desire to be a dentist. I enjoyed my job as a dental assistant, but always knew I had the drive and determination to succeed as a dentist,” Kylie said.
Her path into the profession wasn’t straight forward. Kylie chose to go into nursing and start a family, before returning to pursue her passion.
“I had my first two daughters while I was studying nursing. I then returned to my home town and worked as a registered nurse where I had two of my sons.”
When her youngest was ten months old, Kylie relocated her family to Cairns and enrolled in JCU’s first Bachelor of Dental Surgery intake.
Being part of the first cohort provided a few unique challenges as the students watched the school grow around them.
“Changes were happening all the time, even on a monthly basis,” she said. “It was a sheer delight to see the new building for the dental school grow and evolve. My only regret is I wasn’t able to fully utilise the amazing state-of-the-art facility from the beginning.
“But I always felt privileged to be there as it was going to allow me to achieve my long-term goals.”
Although she is now a dentist, Kylie admits the course itself was not for the faint of heart.
“There was an obvious need to develop and expand my chemistry skills from the bare basics,” Kylie said. “This was a mammoth task and I needed to set the bar high. But still, I turned my weakness into a strength and proved that anything is possible if you want it enough.”
Mastering chemistry wasn’t the only challenge she’d face. In addition to studying, Kylie decided to grow her family. This included the addition of her youngest daughter at the end of her second year and son at the end of her third.
“The University was great,” she said. “They were incredibly understanding when it came to family commitments. I also tried hard not to allow the pregnancies and breastfeeding interfere with my course commitments.”
Managing a growing family and the rigours of study required dedication.
“I was very mindful that the family needed my attention, so I was very strategic in planning my study time,” she said. “I did what I could at university and treated it like a job. Once I got home it was homework for the kids and dinner and some time for myself. Then I would study from nine pm until midnight, sleep, then start all over again.
“I tried to make most weekends family time unless I had exams or a big project. This seemed to work for me.”
The hard work and juggling paid off. After graduating, Kylie returned to Bowen where she gained valuable experience working in a private dental clinic. She also used the time to develop her vision for an affordable, accessible, and high-quality general practice.
“I have been operating my own practice now for four years and it has grown from three staff to nine,” she said. “We pride ourselves on providing high-level care to the community and have a reputation for taking care of anxious patients. It’s great to be able to look after these patients who once would not have felt comfortable seeking dental care.
“I have a wonderful practice manager who does most of the day-to-day detail. Without her, I would not be in the position I am in today. A lot of the success of the practice is because of her.”
Along with pride in her practice, Kylie also feels the satisfaction that comes from helping her community.
“I was born and raised in Bowen and always felt the need to return,” she said. “I enjoy being part of a community. It makes me feel that I’m doing a great service. I know people who once didn't have regular access to private dental care, and now they do.”
If your ambition is to pursue a challenging career that makes a positive difference in your community, consider JCU Dentistry.