Miss Sally Hanks

Miss Sally Hanks

Associate Professor (Education)

Peninsula Dental School (Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry)


Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) of Clinical Dental Education. Final Year Lead BDS and
Professionalism Module Lead for BDS and BSc Dental Therapy & Hygiene


I am  Final Year Lead at Plymouth University Peninsula School of Dentistry and Module Lead for Professionalism for both BDS and BSc in Therapy/Hygiene.
My particular clinical interest is how to develop patient centred care and dental behavioural management  for patients with special needs and those who have a fear of the dentist. My education interest is in the personal development of professionals to be the best they can be through innovative and inclusive teaching, learning and assessment activities. Communication plays a vital role in all of these interests, and my overarching interests are communication, leadership and management, capability, professionalism and how to provide holistic and personalised care/education/support.

I set up and currently chair the UK Council of the Dental Teachers of Professionalism - the home for the education of professionalism across dental education for undergraduate and postgraduate institutions.
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, 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 and furthering my interest and expertise in behavioural management strategies. I gained my Advanced Diploma in Hypnosis and Stress Management from the University of Stafford in 2010.
Before joining Peninsula in May 2010 I worked part-time as a Restorative Clinical Teacher at Bristol Dental School. At Peninsula I quickly progressed to Final Year Lead, lead for professionalism and gained a Post-Graduate Certificate of Academic Practice. I was also awarded Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy and my Fellowship of the Faculty of Dental trainers of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh.
My interest in patient- and student-centred education influences my approach to ongoing research projects and teaching and I contribute to creating, developing and delivering innovative curriculum activities and Continuing Professional Development opportunities for undergraduate and post-graduate students, and qualified dentists.
I co-ordinate the only undergraduate humanities module in any dental course in the UK, lead the Dental School Student Voice strategy for student feedback and chair the faculty wide Student Voice committee.

Professional membership

SRHE (Society for Research in higher Education)

IADR (International Association of Dental Research)

AMEE (Association of Medical Education in Europe)

ADEE (association of Dental Education in Europe)

BSODR (British Society or Oral Dental Research)

BSRD (British Society of Restorative Dentistry)

BSCAH (Accred) (British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis)

Roles on external bodies

Member: Law and Ethics Special Interest Advisory Group for Dentistry (national) 

Tutor for number of regional and national groups (including DFT, British Association of Oral Surgeons) on subject of communication, medical hypnosis and behavioural management of the anxious patient
Book proposal reviewer for Oxford University Press & Wiley
Reviewer for Medical Education Journal

Teaching interests

The use of Medical Humanities in education to promote communication, empathy, team working and self awareness and development in healthcare students across a range of disciplines. While the humanities are widely used in medical education they are less evident within dental education, and in developing this for dental undergraduates in Peninsula, I am working collaboratively with medical school colleagues to develop a meaningful evaluation tool to provide an evidence base for its use.

I am also interested in the use of feedback as a formative assessment tool to encourage and enable student progression and learning. This is a complex area in the literature which I hope to further explore.

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.

Undergraduateareas of teaching responsibility: 


Hypnosisand Stress Management

Nonpharmacological treatment of anxious patients

Personaland professional development planning

Professionalismand performance

Feedback:Assessment and the Student Voice

Managingpatient expectations

Managementand Leadership in Dentistry

Treatmentplanning for children

Teamworking and management of the dysfunctional team

Research interests

Current research:

PhD: Deconstructing, contextualizing and assessing management and leadership criteria for dental professionals: an ethnographic study of principles in practice

Multi disciplinary research team in collaboration with graduated students evaluating the perceptions of students on a teaching and learning resource (Daybook) which is deisgned to enhance capability, prepare for practice and educate for employment

Interprofessional research collaboration investigating developing  capability in addition to competency

Completed PedRIO Funded project: What do trainers think of their trainees: Perceptions of trainers on the preparedness to practice of their year 1 Dental Foundation Trainees

Member of multi-disciplinary research collaboration: Plasticiser Phthalates, Endocrine Disrupters and Composite Breakdown Materials in Dental Patients

Medical Humanities interest group evaluating students’ perceptions of their dental undergraduate experience of the medical humanities

Grants & contracts

ADEE 40th Anniversary Scholarship Award - awarded in academic year 2015-16

Key publications are highlighted

Hanks S, Coelho C & Coster R 2018 'Prepared for practice and equipped for employment: what do dental foundation trainers think of their trainees?' British Dental Journal 225, (6) 549-555 Author Site , DOI PEARL
Collett T, Hanks S, Watson H & Davies T 2017 'Collecting student feedback: a whole-school approach' Medical Education 51, (5) 547-548 , DOI PEARL
Hanks S 2016 'Reflections on learning and enhancing communication skills through community engagement: a student perspective' British Dental Journal , DOI PEARL
Neve H & Hanks S 2016 'When I say.........capability' Medical Education 50, (6) 610-611 , DOI PEARL

Additional information

  • Hanks S, Neve H. Upending Miller’s Pyramid: The importance of capability in preparing medical and dental students for the complexities of practice. Presentation at the 17th Ottawa Conference and the ANZAHPE 2016 Conference, Perth, Australia, March 2016
  • Neve H, Hanks S. Professional capability in Medicine and Dentistry. Presentation at Assessment of Professionalism Conference, Plymouth University, December 2015.
  • Neve H, Hanks S. Training for competence or capability: what is the difference, why does it matter and is capability a threshold concept? Presentation at Vice Chancellor's Teaching and Learning Conference, June 2015, Plymouth.
  • Neve H. Capability and Competence: what is the difference and why does it matter? Presentation to UK Council of Teachers of Professionalism, November 2014, London.
Assessment and remediation
  • Neve H, Hanks S. Failing to Fail. Workshop at Assessment of Professionalism Conference, Plymouth University, December 2015.Neve H, Hanks S. Failing to Fail. Workshop at Assessment of Professionalism Conference, Plymouth University, December 2015.