Celebrating 100 years of women dental professionals
Where did you qualify? And When? Cairo University – Egypt 1995
What attracted you to dentistry?
I was always fascinated by dentistry as a profession as it combines a whole range of knowledge and skills that encompass not only biology, chemistry and dental materials but also communication and interaction with patients and peers as well as the artistic dexterity of delivering treatment.
What are your current responsibilities in the profession?
I am a Principal Lecturer in Dental Education and Director of Teaching and Learning for the School of Healthcare Practice at the University of Bedfordshire (UoB). I lead Dental Education and Dental Law and Ethics courses at UoB. These are postgraduate courses aimed at dental practitioners who would like to develop their skills in becoming dental educators and trainers (dental education programme) or to develop their skills in legal and ethical issues influencing dental practice (dental law and ethics programme). The MA Dental Law and Ethics programme is the only course in the UK that is specialised in teaching Law and Ethics to dental professionals. I am involved in teaching postgraduate dental students different aspects of the courses including learning and teaching theories, ethical and cultural impact on clinical practice, work-based learning concepts in relation to dentistry as well as supervising MA and PhD research students. I am also an external examiner for the Medical Education course at the University of Staffordshire. I am a fellow of the higher education academy and a member of the association of dental educators in Europe.
Your dental story
As a four-year old, my grandmother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. “I want to be a dentist and a teacher” was my reply. She responded: “that is not possible; you can only be one thing, so you have to choose”. Apparently, I burst into tears as I was disappointed with this answer and with this ‘rule’ that you can only grow up to be ‘one thing’. However, my dental story so far shows what can be achieved with mentoring, guidance and determination.
After graduating with a BDS, I took the opportunity of doing an MClinDent in Paediatric dentistry at Queen Mary – University of London (QMUL) while working as SHO in Paediatric Dentistry at Bart’s and The London. My research focused on oral health among children with gastro-intestinal (GI) problems. My aim was to explore how GI disease affected oral tissues and how it impacted oral health. After successfully completing my MClinDent in 2000, I started my PhD in the department of Oral Growth and Development - QMUL. My research focused on understanding dental enamel structure using novel micro CT scanning and X-Ray microtomography. This was a challenge to learn new skills in linking radiation and biophysics to dentistry. I later started work as a Clinical Lecturer – Paediatric dentistry at Bart’s and The London, teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate students and at the same time I was appointed as a Senior Tutor for International Students at QMUL. Part of my role was to review University policies that affect students’ welfare as a group and provide recommendations to enhance students’ experience during their time of studying. My work focused not only on the support that students received from the University but also on equipping them for the future considering various changes in the climate of higher education and the job market.
In 2011, I was appointed as a Principal Lecturer at UoB to lead to a new exciting development of the first Dental Law and Ethics course in the UK. I led the planning and designing of the course content together with developing assessment strategies and course materials, and the first students’ cohort started in 2012. Following on from the success of the PgCert, I led the development of the course to Master level which was approved in 2015.
In 2016, I successfully completed my MA Education and I currently lead the MA Dental Education and MA Dental Law and Ethics courses at UoB teaching learning theories and pedagogy, ethical practice in relation to dental care and research methods to research students among other commitments.
Throughout my career in dentistry, I have never shied away from learning and exploring new areas of scientific inquires, from learning about GI diseases for my MClinDent, to learning new skills in biophysics, X-ray radiation in relation to dental structure, to counselling skills for working with international students, to course design, educational pedagogy and teaching and learning theories as part of my MA education. My identity as a professional has evolved from ‘just a dentist’ to a dental educator with a background in dental practice.
I doubt my grandmother really meant it was not possible to be two things! After all, you can be a dentist and a teacher. You can be anything you want!
What has been your most memorable achievement in the profession?
Being awarded my PhD from Queen Mary – University of London in 2008
What advice would you give your younger self on qualifying?
Worry less, explore more and enjoy it all!
Which of your mentors have influenced you the most?
Dr Stephanie Dowker, my PhD supervisor (QMUL) has been a great mentor and a friend. Her support and encouragement allowed me not only to successfully complete my PhD, but also to be part of the academic community.
How have you used mentoring throughout your career?
Mentoring has played a fundamental role in my dental journey and my progress. However, mentoring was not defined as clearly as it is now; nevertheless, it was anchored and embedded within all supervision, appraisal and reviews activities that I have received. Now mentoring is an essential part of my role as a Dental Educator and as a research supervisor as I guide mentees in a mindful and non-judgmental way towards their professional goals to be all they can be.