Leading medicine and dentistry academics awarded National Teaching Fellowships

Two of the University of Plymouth’s leading medicine and dentistry academics have been awarded National Teaching Fellowships (NTFs) by Advance HE.

Professor Kamran Ali and Dr Richard Ayres have been recognised for their provision of outstanding education and experiences for their students.

Their awards take the total NTFs awarded to the University to 25, emphasising its commitment to delivering high quality teaching, learning and outcomes across its undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

Professor Ali, Professor of Dental Education and Consultant in Oral Surgery, joined the University in 2009 and this accolade rewards his long-standing work on preparedness for practice at regional, national and international levels.

He is currently Clinical Lead in Oral Surgery, and the Academic Lead in Progress Testing for the BDS Dental Surgery and BSc (Hons) Dental Therapy and Hygiene programmes.

He was awarded the 40th Anniversary Scholarship by the Association for Dental Education in Europe, in recognition of his PhD research, and is an education associate and external examiner for the General Dental Council as well as being a regional adviser for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Glasgow.

Professor Ali was made a Principal Fellow of the HEA in 2018 in recognition of his strategic leadership in academic practice and academic development as a key contribution to high quality student learning. He also received the Excellence in Dental Education – Mature Educator Award from the Association for Dental Education in Europe in 2017.

Speaking about his latest accolade, Professor Ali said: 

“I have a strong passion for clinical education, and I have been committed to the education of undergraduate students and postgraduate trainees in dentistry for over 23 years. Teaching is more than a job for me, and my real passion is to make a meaningful impact on the learning experiences of students and facilitate their professional development for independent practice. 

“The University of Plymouth has provided me outstanding opportunities for my career development. To receive the National Teaching Fellowship is a great honour, and will enable me to undertake new collaborations nationally and internationally to enhance research clinical dental education.”

Dr Ayres, Clinical Academic and Lead for Population Health, has been teaching a variety of health workers for nearly 30 years and still practises as a doctor in Stonehouse, a GP practice that provides special experience for students in homeless healthcare and substance misuse.

He has designed and taught multiple courses from basic first aid to masters level, and has contributed significantly to the recommended learning outcomes widely used both in the UK and internationally for medical students and other health professionals.

He is a passionate advocate of teaching about "wellness" as well as illness, and educating about shared decision making and advocacy that are transforming the way that healthcare is delivered.

Dr Ayres believes students should always try to make a difference, and that focusing on individual patients in all their complexity is not only the best way to produce holistic practitioners, but the best way to integrate learning.

Nationally, he is a member of the Public Health Educators in Medical Schools (PHEMS) network and serves on the Royal College of General Practitioners’ Health Inequalities Standing Group.

Commenting on his award, Dr Ayres said:

“I have spent my entire professional career combining clinical practice with teaching and always encourage my students to make a difference, wherever they end up practising. I hope this award encourages all of us to help students make the most of the privileges that becoming a health professional brings.

“As the medical school expands to produce desperately needed doctors, I am particularly proud that we will take on our first foundation year students creating a much more diverse cohort than we have had previously. This completes the circle, as we have consistently encouraged our graduates to go to areas of greatest need and are now creating opportunities for students from those areas to join us.”

NTFs aim to showcase the outstanding impact of individuals and teams who teach or support learning in UK higher education, and 54 new fellowships have been awarded this year.

Alison Johns, Advance HE’s chief executive, said:

“Becoming a National Teaching Fellow is a huge achievement. It can be truly life-changing. It creates ambassadors for innovative and impactful teaching who are valued by institutions and colleagues, and who can set in motion change and enhancements to make a really positive impact on student experience and outcomes across their institution and beyond. Advance HE looks forward to working with the winners to help to disseminate their work for the benefit of all.”

Teaching and learning support

The Teaching and Learning Support team aims to positively impact on the student experience through offering staff support and resources to develop their practice.

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