Journey from Dental Hygienist to Dental Hygiene and Therapy Lecturer
Initially joining the dental team as a dental nurse, then qualifying as a dental hygienist, Morag Powell had a drive to teach and contribute to academia. Through dedication and guidance from a mentor, Morag embraced new challenges, obtaining qualifications to become an influential and successful lecturer. Her work now focuses on preparing new generations of dental therapists, promoting equality and diversity, fostering interprofessional education, and supporting staff wellbeing within the dental community.
Moving to academia
Morag gained valuable practical experience working as a dental hygienist for many years before considering a move into academia. Supported and advised by an informal mentor, a senior lecturer in Scotland, Morag embarked on a decade-long journey to gain the qualifications for a career in education. This involved upskilling from a dental hygienist to a dental therapist, acquiring clinical skills, completing a BSc top-up program, obtaining a teaching qualification, and achieving a master's degree in Health Professions Education. She has recently been awarded a senior fellowship from the Health Education Authority.
Advancing recognition of dental therapists
Morag's dedication to dental therapy extends beyond the classroom. Her leadership and management of a dental therapist team earned her the prestigious Best Preventative Practice award at the Dental Therapy and Hygiene Awards in 2012. In addition to this she was recently awarded the Oral B dental excellence in interprofessional education at ADEE 2023. Morag's passion has also led her to present at conferences, both nationally and internationally, contributing significantly to professional development and knowledge exchange.
Championing equality and dental therapists
Equality lies at the core of Morag's work, both within the dental team and between student groups. Recognising the importance of diversity and inclusion, Morag advocates for creating an equitable and respectful environment where everyone's contributions are valued. In 2022, Morag strongly encouraged final year Dental Therapy students to participate in the University of Plymouth Equality Pledges Project, and her bringing together of students to create communications materials led to the Dental Schools Council rolling out the scheme nationally.
Morag emphasises the need to promote the role of dental therapists more widely as a part of the dental team, highlighting their unique skills and expertise to encourage greater recognition and appreciation within the oral health profession. Effective communication, teamwork and coordination among different oral health professionals are vital in providing comprehensive and integrated care for patients.
Nurturing staff wellbeing
Morag is actively engaged in research efforts within the Association for Dental Education in Europe (ADEE) Community of Practice group on Staff Wellbeing. Additionally, Morag co-chairs the Peninsula Faculty of Health's Health and Wellbeing group, dedicated to promoting best practices and initiatives that support staff's overall wellbeing.
Morag Powell's move from dental hygienist to dental therapy lecturer has seen her have multiple impacts on oral healthcare. Her career journey in oral healthcare provides an example of the positive impact that expert and informal advice from a mentor can make.