Sally Hanks

Academic profile

Professor Sally Hanks

Professor of Primary Care Dentistry
Peninsula Dental School (Faculty of Health)

The Global Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Sally's work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

Goal 03: SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-beingGoal 04: SDG 4 - Quality EducationGoal 10: SDG 10 - Reduced InequalitiesGoal 17: SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

About Sally

Associate Dean for Education and Student Experience Faculty of Health and Professor of Primary Care Dentistry, Peninsula Dental School 

I qualified from Bristol Dental School in 1993 and spent the first 10 years of my career working full time in Primary Care Dentistry. This included roles in the NHS, private practice, SHO experience and as a civilian dental officer with the Royal Navy.

The next five-year phase saw my clinical career develop by working with special care patients within the Community Dental Services on referral as well as delivering domiciliary care to local care, nursing and residential homes for adults and children. I developed my interest and expertise in non pharmacological and behavioural management strategies during this time and gained my Advanced Diploma in Hypnosis and Stress Management from the University of Stafford in 2010.
Before joining Peninsula I was a Restorative Clinical Lecturer at Bristol Dental School. At Peninsula I quickly progressed to Final Year Lead, lead for professionalism and gained my Post-Graduate Certificate of Academic Practice. I was awarded my PhD in medical education related to leadership in Primary Care Dental Practice. Underpinned by a social constructivist approach, using traditional ethnography and innovative video reflexive ethnography methods and Activity Theory as the theoretical lens for analysis, the final 'Hanks framework' is a conceptual framework of leadership for dentists that has been grounded in Primary Care General Dental Practice. Alongside and complementary to this work is the educational concept of capability and the framework I and 2 medical colleagues developed, to support the concept for learning and education activities. 

My interest in patient-centred personalised care and student-centred education influences my approach to ongoing research projects and teaching. I continue creating, developing and delivering innovative curriculum activities and Continuing Professional Development opportunities for undergraduate and post-graduate students, and qualified dentists, to ensure initial preparedness for practice, along with ongoing life long development. 
I co-lead the Oral health services, workforce development and clinical epidemiology Research group ( in the Dental School where we conduct research relevant to Primary Care Practitioners across their life course from pre admission into Dental School through to retirement. My motivation is to inspire and embed inclusivity and humanity into education and healthcare for our patients, our trainees and our teams, while ensuring our entire dental workforce team is awarded the opportunities they need to thrive in their individual careers.

Supervised Research Degrees

MSc Supervisor: An exploratory study investigating the effects of online human factors training on medical students’ behaviour in a peripheral intravenous cannulation hybrid simulation (successful supervision to completion with merit)

Clinical advisor PhD: Plasticiser Phthalates, Endocrine Disrupters and Composite Breakdown Materials in Dental Patients. Successful completion 2017


The use of Health Humanities, integrative and inter-professional education to promote development of communication, empathy, team working, self awareness, emotional intelligence and self-development in healthcare students across a range of disciplines for the benefit of patient care. While the humanities are widely used in medical education they are less evident within dental education. In developing inter professional learning opportunities for dental undergraduates in Peninsula, I work with colleagues across the Faculty of Health and Arts and Humanities to develop such opportunities.

My PhD in Leadership in Dental Practice enabled me to develop a conceptual framework of leadership that underpins teaching, learning and development sessions for undergraduate dental students as well as qualified dentists including Dental Foundation Trainers. Through developing a framework through which to explore personal and practice leadership, I am able to provide one to one or groups workshops and talks to support individuals, practices and wider groups to understand and optimise their leadership skills, to enhance patient care, support the running of a surgery or practice, and to explore, address and develop insight for the business of dentistry. 
Underpinning many of my specific teaching interests is the notion of developing capability over competency. This is the key to understanding and demonstrating how each of us as individuals has a unique set of attributes which contribute to what we do and how we do it. Capability includes personal and professional attributes which a clinician must have to be able to care for their patients successfully. In these days of competency and outcomes based education we must find ways of understanding, educating and assessing capability for the sake of both patients and healthcare workers.

Additional teaching expertise: 

Education and Curriculum development

Programmatic Assessment


Leadership in Dentistry

Teamworking and management of the dysfunctional team

Hypnosis and Stress Management

Non pharmacological treatment of anxious patients

Personal and professional development planning

Professionalism and performance (including Fitness to Practise)

Feedback:Assessment and the Student Voice

Managing patient expectations

Contact Sally

Peninsula Dental School, John Bull Building, Research Way, Plymouth, PL6 8BU
+44 1752 586779