Celebrating 100 years of women dental professionals

Fiona EllwoodFionaEllwood

M.Ed (LM), PG Cert PH, PG Cert MDent, BA (Hons) Ed S,Cert Ed, LCGI, IQA, OHE, DN


Where did you qualify and what year?   Manchester 1986

What attracted you to dentistry? It was actually my second choice, I had wanted to join the Wrens and did pass my entrance examinations – it was they who suggested I entered through a route such as dental nursing and there my journey began and sadly I never actually took up my post in the Wrens.

What are your current responsibilities in the profession?

I have a range of roles and responsibilities across the UK. I am currently an External Examiner in Ireland (University Trinity College Dublin and Cork) and University West of Scotland covering the Higher qualifications for dental nurses. I am a member of the Editorial Board for Dental Nursing and the Chair of the National Oral Health Promotion Group. I am a subject expert for the University of Bangor and a Quality Assurance Education Associate for the General Dental Council. I provide short courses for Health Education England and I am part of the Dental Advisory Group for Dental Partners UK. I am the Quality Assurance and Enhancement Director for Leamington Spa Orthodontics. I provide mentorship and am a member of Dental Mentors UK. In addition, I have a number of appointments which include: Chair of the National Oral Health Promotion Group; Patron Society of British Dental Nurses; member of the Scottish Advisory Board for DCPs; DCP lead for the Human Factors Group. I am Founder and Patron of the Society of British Dental Nurses, which is going from strength to strength and Vice Chair of BSDHT. I was honoured to be elected the President of BADN

Fiona’s dental story:

I qualified as a dental nurse at a time when being qualified was optional and registration was not even a consideration. Moving from a general practice in Cumbria to Manchester was a new chapter after qualifying as a dental surgery assistant, where education started to become a focal point. In general practice the range of duties included minor oral surgery, general anaesthesia, orthodontics and more general aspects of dentistry.

Over the years I have had a number of roles from head dental nurse, to head of training, practice manager, dental receptionist and it was during my time in Manchester that I began training and supporting others through their dental nursing qualifications. On leaving Manchester, finding a post was difficult, with no teaching hospital close by local dentists were not interested in a qualified dental nurse. My first role was covering late shifts and it was during this time that I joined a training team and started my educational path. First undertaking a primary teaching qualification and then the assessors award and then the internal moderator qualification. I became an examiner for the National Examining Board for Dental Nursing and President of the British Association of Dental Nurses.

When the local training provider closed I started to grow my training business in conjunction with working in general practice. For a short period, I worked in the radiography department in the local hospital too. The training business went from strength to strength and soon began to provide post registration qualifications. At this point I undertook a Certificate in Education, followed by a BA (Hons) Education Studies, a MEd with a leadership and management pathway, a PG Cert in Mentoring in Dentistry and more recently an MSc PG Cert in Public Health. I am currently a PhD student, and have recently completed a counselling course. I am very proud to have been the first DCP to be awarded an honorary Fellowship by the FGDP (UK) and more recently receiving a Fellowship from the Dental Trainers Faculty RCS Edinburgh, as well as a Fellow of the Institute of Administrators and Managers.

Since qualifying I have worked in general practice both NHS and Private and in the urgent dental care system. I have provided and delivered in-house training for clinical skills and also delivered training for some of the corporate bodies. I have also worked for Primary Care Commissioning in the North West assessing the fluoride Varnish Courses. Although dental care in general interests me, over the years I have developed particular fields of interest in: Dental Public Health, Oral Surgery, Infection Prevention and Control, Mentorship. Leadership and Education.  

What has been your most memorable achievement in the profession?

It is hard to chose between being accepted onto the mentoring course and being given an honorary fellowship for my hard work and contribution.

What advice would you give your younger self on qualifying?

To gain experience across the wide field of dentistry and not to get swept along and to never give up.

Which of your mentors have influenced you the most?

Without a doubt there were two key people early in my career that were an inspiration – both GDPs who believed in me and are the reason I set off on this journey and there have been a few since.

How have you used mentoring throughout your career?

As they say everyone needs a mentor at some point in their professional life, I have a great mentor and I have been a mentor as well as trained mentors. In fact, my dissertation for my BA was around mentoring and mentorship. I have also trained clinicians to adopt mentoring skills when working with underperforming registrants.

My burning ambition is to open doors for others and I continue to be a keynote speaker and contribute to the development of a mentoring framework to support others in learning and through difficult times.   To this end I am a member of Dental Mentors UK and the founder of the Dental Mentoring Network.


Who We Are:

Dental Mentors UK is run by two experienced dental mentors.
We are:

We believe that all dental professionals would benefit from regularly working with a mentor from a personal as well as a professional point of view. Mentors are experienced dental professionals who can guide and support you throughout your career.

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