Associate Dentist: BUPA and Former Fast Jet Pilot: Royal Air Force
Mike Rutland graduated in 1997 with a B.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering. Whilst at University, Mike discovered he was dyslexic, but has had a successful career as a pilot in the Royal Air Force and now as a dentist.
I always liked knowing how things worked and I was into lots of sports. After visiting Loughborough I knew it was going to be the right place for me.
While at Loughborough my self-confidence and belief grew. That growth has now sustained me through two different, successful professional careers.
Would there be one piece of advice that you would give to current or prospective students looking to study Mechanical Engineering?
Work hard and listen in lectures, then you only have to revise the information once to really know it.
Also, my time as a fresher in halls at Loughborough was some of the best times I have ever had. It was with a great bunch of people and I would, and do, recommend Loughborough to anyone thinking of going to University.
Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities during your studies? If so, how did this impact upon your Loughborough experience?
I initially joined the Karate Club and managed to grade in my first term, but I then had to leave as I gained sponsorship by the Royal Air Force to be a Pilot.
The flying training and social events that went with the university Air Squadron meant that I met students from around Loughborough, Leicester and Nottingham. This lead to a full and hectic social life around my studies and made my time at Loughborough simply awesome.
After graduating I joined the Royal Air Force where I trained to become a Fast Jet Pilot. In that time I flew the Harrier (Jump-jet) in the Iraq War and the Tornado strike/reconnaissance fast jet in peace support operations. I then became a Qualified Flying instructor and taught new potential fast jet pilots on the Tucano turboprop, which was similar to a modern Spitfire.
After 13 years I decided to leave the service and re-train. I completed the required entry A-Levels in my last year at work via home study and attended Leeds University Dental Institute where I trained as a Dentist for five years. I have then completed my Foundation Training in South Wales before working in Lincolnshire for three years as an Associate Dentist.
Can you tell us more about your transition from an air force pilot to a dentist, and how that came about?
I originally signed up for 12 years in the military and signed on to allow me to complete my flying instructor tour. But the force was changing and I had a young family and so going away so much was no longer an exciting option for me. I therefore looked at other professional careers that had good employability.
Dentistry stood out and so I organised some work experience. I found it fascinating as it linked my interest in materials and mechanics, with hands on work and contact with lots of individuals. Eight years on I still think my decision to radically change careers was the right one, even if it required six years of hard study and no income to achieve it.
I enjoy helping patients get their confidence and smile back. I also enjoy treating patients from start to finish and building relationships with patients who potentially hated attending the dentist before seeing me.
When did you find out that you were dyslexic, and has it affected your career, positively or negatively?
I always struggled with English and comprehension but thought my strengths lay in science and numbers. However, when I returned to university I found that no matter how hard I worked on written assignments I gained poor scores compared to my fellow students who threw stuff together at short notice. So I went to see the academic tutor and she asked if I had ever been tested for Dyslexia.
I went for the test and found out I was severely dyslexic in my reading and comprehension but had developed coping strategies to overcome this. With the aid of the tutor support and guidance and use of software and learning techniques, such as mind mapping, I improved my work output considerably. This benefitted me so much that in my final year I was one of three students out of 120 up for an academic coursework prize due to gaining the joint-highest mark in the assignment.
My proudest moments are as a pilot gaining my fast jet wings and as a dentist passing my first post-graduate exams, allowing me membership into the Royal College of Surgeons.