Dr Sally Hanks

Dr Sally Hanks

Associate Professor (Education)

Peninsula Dental School (Faculty of Health)

Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) of Clinical Dental Education Associate Head of School, Teaching and Learning, Peninsula Dental School
Professionalism Module Lead for BDS and BSc Dental Therapy & Hygiene

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 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 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 practice.

My interest in patient- and student-centred education influences my approach to ongoing research projects and teaching. I continue to 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 developed and led the first undergraduate dentistry humanities module, developed the patient feedback strategy for the school, and set up our student voice (feedback) strategy. My motivation is to inspire and embed inclusivity and humanity into education and healthcare.



I am head of teaching and learning at Peninsula School of Dentistry University of Plymouth and Module Lead for Professionalism for both BDS and BSc in Dental Therapy & Hygiene. 

My particular clinical interest is in patient-centred care and behavioural management for patients with special needs and those who have a fear of the dentist. I use clinical hypnosis and its philosophy to underpin all my work. My education interest is in leadership and personal and professional development to enable individuals to be the best they can be through the use of best practice, innovative and inclusive teaching, learning and assessment activities, as well as one-to-one development support. Communication plays a vital role in all of these areas, and my overarching interests are communication, leadership, coaching techniques, development of capability, professionalism and how to provide holistic and personalised care/education/support.

I have been awarded the prestigious Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy and am Fellow of the Faculty of Dental Trainers of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. 

I set up and was inaugural chair of the UK Council of the Dental Teachers of Professionalism - the home for the education of professionalism across dental education for undergraduate and postgraduate institutions.

Professional membership

Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) 

Faculty of Dental Trainers Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh

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)

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

Roles on external bodies

Dental School Council Education Leads Committee.

La Trobe Rural Health School Course Advisory Committee Dental and Oral Healthcare programmes, La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia.

Founder and founding chair: UK Council for the Dental Teachers of Professionalism

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, British Dental Journal, European Journal of Dental Education, SRHE.

Conference Organiser, BSCAH annual conference 2020 "Think it possible that you may be mistaken? Challenging assumptions & developing new ideas" Dartington Hall 

Teaching interests

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

Staff serving as external examiners

University of Liverpool 2nd BDS Clinical Readiness Exam and the new centennial Curriculum.

Research interests

My research areas are education-based across individual, module, programme and curricula levels.

I am also interested in clinical translational or regulatory research that informs or influences education directly.

Ongoing projects

GDC funded: Unlocking the potential of GDC Fitness to Practise data

PhD supervised projects:  Salivary gland regeneration and oral cancer; Understanding how people interpret and respond to uncertainties in oral health-related information – An exploratory study among selected multi-ethnic groups of Malaysia

National Collaboration: Ensuring a continuum approach to dental education. Collaboration between 3 dental schools

Internal Faculty and School projects: Exploring the student experience of the covid-19 pandemic across all schools in the FoH; Review of current status of Interprofessional Education in Healthcare – practice, evaluation and outcomes

Completed research: 

GDC funded: Review and mapping of basic dental training in EU member states

Multi-disciplinary project: audio diaries to explore transformative learning through social engagement 

PhD: Deconstructing, contextualising 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 designed to enhance capability, prepare for practice and educate for employment

Interprofessional research collaboration developing & assessing capability in addition to competency

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

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

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

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

Grants & contracts

GDC award: Review and mapping of basic dental training in EU member states.  £21,026 Awarded September 2019
ADEE 40th Anniversary Scholarship Award - awarded in academic year 2015-16

Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Ali K, McColl E, Tredwin C, Hanks S, Coelho C & Witton R 2021 'Addressing racial inequalities in dental education: decolonising the dental curricula' British Dental Journal 230, (3) 165-169 Publisher Site , DOI Open access
Hanks SJ & Coelho CS 2020 'Students’ views on the sustained impact of a learning approach developed by blending pedagogy to prepare for professional practice: introducing ‘Daybook’' European Journal of Dental Education , DOI Open access
Hanks S, Neve H, Smith W & Heath M 2020 '“Today’s shook me up a lot inside…it’s definitely changed me”: emotional responses and transformative learning through working with disadvantaged communities' Education for Primary Care , DOI Open access
Sally H, Cotton D & Spowart L 2020 'Leadership in Dental Practice: a Three Stage Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis' Journal of Dentistry 103480-103480 , DOI Open access
Carter H, Hanks S & Gale T 2020 'A qualitative study using hybrid simulation to explore the impacts of human factors e-learning on behaviour change' Advances in Simulation 5, (1) , DOI Open access
Hanks S 2020 'Leadership and followership in a pandemic - where do you stand?' Journal of the Irish Dental Association 108-111 Publisher Site Open access
Hanks S 2020 'Taking The Lead' Journal of the Irish Dental Association Publisher Site Open access
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 Open access
Collett T, Hanks S, Watson H & Davies T 2017 'Collecting student feedback: a whole-school approach' Medical Education 51, (5) 547-548 , DOI Open access
Hanks S 2016 'Reflections on learning and enhancing communication skills through community engagement: a student perspective' British Dental Journal , DOI Open access
Neve H & Hanks S 2016 'When I say.........capability' Medical Education 50, (6) 610-611 , DOI Open access
Hanks S & Johnson I Hanks S & Johnson I 'Freestage session: Developing a national group to support dental professionalism teaching and teachers' Open access

Conferences organised

Joint GDC, Dental Schools' Council & Dental Teacher's of Professionalism conference: Developing a common approach to Student Fitness to Practise. 29th January 2020. QMUL, London

BSCAH Annual Conference 2020 . Think it possible that you may be mistaken? Challenging assumptions & developing new ideas. Dartington Hall, Devon POSTPONED DUE TO COVID 19 until SUMMER 2021


Additional information

  • Hanks S, Johnson I. Dental Teachers of Professionalism 2019 “Freestage: Developing a national group to support dental professionalism teaching and teachers” ADEE Annual Meeting: Berlin, Germany. Equipping our students to be dentists of the future 21st - 23rd August 2019

  • Hanks S, Cockerill J. 2019. Interprofessional Professionalism. ADEE Annual Meeting: Berlin, Germany. Equipping our students to be dentists of the future 21st - 23rd August 2019

  • 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.