Celebrating 100 years of women dental professionals
Dr Joanne Brindley SFHEA, RDH, RDT
Where did you qualify and what year?
The London Hospital Medical College (Queen Mary, University of London) 1994
What attracted you to dentistry?
I distinctly remember going to see the Dental Hygienist at around 12 years of age; I was so enthused by her that on my way home I announced to my mum that this was the career for me, as such the die was cast!
What are your current responsibilities in the profession?
I have been involved in the delivery of education since joining the University of Portsmouth in 2005. During this time, I have supported the development of the students studying the BSc (Hons) Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy, and Certificate in Higher Education Dental Nursing, alongside the Kings College Dental Institute undergraduates, who attend the University of Portsmouth Dental Academy as part of their outreach experience. Running parallel to this, I am actively engaged in the quality assurance of dental education, in my external role as Education Associate for the General Dental Council.
Joanne’s dental story
I have been a Dental Care Professional for 30 years, first studying at Highbury College in Portsmouth as a Dental Nurse and then moving on to qualify as a Dental Hygienist and Dental Therapist at the London Hospital Medical College (LHMC). At the time, the LHMC was the only institution in the U.K. which was training Dental Therapists. Upon registration I initially worked in private practice, before moving on to both community and hospital settings. This was a wonderful point in my career; I met so many amazing members of the Dental Team. I relished the opportunity to experience such a diverse patient base in multiple locations and environments; each day presented new challenges and I felt so privileged to be involved in the care of my patients and proud to work for the NHS. During this time, I joined a large multidisciplinary team who were working towards Beacon Status for oncology care. To support attainment of this, I developed patient and staff information leaflets and presented sessions at staff training events, aimed at facilitating the best possible standard of patient care. Beacon Status was awarded to our team shortly after. Working in such close proximity within these teams furnished me with a wealth of experience and opportunities, but most significantly I have formed lifelong friendships with some incredible people.
In 2005 I joined the School of Professional Complimentary to Dentistry at the University of Portsmouth. This presented a unique opportunity to be involved in the generation of a new course. During this time, I first developed my passion for reflective practice. Initially my curiosity was raised as part of the course delivery and also as part of my own personal development, as I studied for my Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. This was swiftly followed by a Masters in Learning and Teaching; my dissertation explored ‘The use and relevance of e-portfolios in undergraduate DCP education’, which reflective practice naturally formed an intrinsic part.
Alongside my studies, my roles at the university continued to evolve; initially I became Placement Lead, which reflected my historical role and links working within the NHS. When the University of Portsmouth Dental Academy was established in 2010 I was appointed Year Lead. Knowing that Dental Care Professionals training was expanding I felt that an emphasis should be placed on developing a professional community, so I set about developing an electronic newsletter (Filling-in). The newsletter was a huge hit with staff and students contributing to the articles; the seasonal videos were streamed in some university buildings, much to the delight of staff and students. My work on this was rewarded with the Nairn Wilson Award for Excellence and Innovation in Undergraduate Dental Education, in 2012.
Most recently, I completed my Doctoral Thesis, which was an exploration of the use and relevance of reflective practice in dental education. The findings from my work have been published in the British Dental Journal and British Dental Journal Team. In 2017 I was awarded an Oral and Dental Research Trust/Colgate Robin Davies Award.
What has been your most memorable achievement in the profession?
For me, I think there are three strands to this:
- My initial registration; without this I would never be where I am today.
- Being involved in education; I have co-ordinated the pre-clinical skills of students for over ten years. Seeing the student progression from grappling with holding a hand instrument for the first time, to confidently managing their patients on the clinical floor is a supreme privilege.
- Sharing my graduation day with my family, following completion of my doctoral thesis; this was such a personal journey for me, as a first generation student, sharing this moment with my family was very special indeed. I am immensely proud of the fact that I have been able to publish my research and contribute to raising the profile of DCP’s working in the profession.
What advice would you give your younger self on qualifying?
Facing challenge is part of the learning journey. How we manage our challenges says so much more about who we are, than the end result. The only achievement that has any true value, is one that has come about by being true to yourself and being kind to others.
Which of your mentors have influenced you the most?
This is interesting, as when I look back at my journey so far I feel that I have had the right mentors at the right times. I would struggle to say who has been the most pivotal in influencing my career, as without the individual support they have provided at each step of my journey I wouldn’t be where I am today. What I do know is that I am truly grateful for all of the expertise, knowledge and advice that has been provided to me over the years by my mentors.
How have you used mentoring throughout your career?
I have used a combination of formal and informal mentorship, alongside coaches, to underpin my career journey. As my career has progressed, I could see the benefit of the mentoring relationship for both the mentor and mentee, so as such, I have also mentored several of my peers and also alumni; the professional growth that arises from mentorship activities can be incredibly illuminating and rewarding for both parties.
Personally, I love the way the that the mentoring relationship allows people to view themselves from different perspectives. Life is not one dimensional, so having a trusted advisor to explore this with, supporting you to find your own voice and encouraging you to face challenges (you may otherwise have avoided), can be the catalyst which enables you to move your life from being ordinary and lift it into becoming something which is quite extraordinary.