Member of the Order of the British Empire for Plymouth dental academic and clinician

Professor Liz Kay, foundation dean of Peninsula Dental School
Professor Liz Kay, foundation dean of Peninsula Dental School

Professor Liz Kay, foundation dean of Peninsula Dental School at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry (PUPSMD), has been awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of her services to dental education.

Professor Kay led the development and implementation of the Peninsula Dental School (the first new dental school in the UK for 40 years), which currently ranks second out of the 15 dental schools in the country (Guardian league table 2017).

Her focus on primary care within dental education is internationally renowned. Her advice on dental education is often sought and highly respected. She is an inspiring clinical teacher and highly evaluated by students.

As an academic she is highly productive (more than 150 papers and six books, with £1.5 million of research funding). Her research is of the highest standard and through this and also through her multiple external roles she influences policy in dental public health at regional and national level.

After setting up Peninsula Dental School, Professor Kay devised and developed an MBA in healthcare in partnership with Plymouth University Business School. It is the first in UK to be taught via blended and distributed learning, and the dissertation projects are based on healthcare improvement in the student’s own healthcare organisation, thereby giving a practical benefit to the student’s sponsor.

She works tirelessly to support others through editorial boards, journal refereeing and higher degree supervision. She is in great demand by external bodies (national and international) and works extensively with industry from which she passes all fee income to the support of research degree students rather than retaining it personally.

Her advocacy for women within higher education brings on the next generation of clinical educators and leaders. She pursues this work nationally, regionally and within Plymouth University where she sits on the University Athena Swan Committee and leads the PUPSMD Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team.

Exceptional enthusiasm

Her achievements have been recognised with a Fellowship Ad Eundem from the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK), awarded in 2011 ‘as a mark of the contribution you have made to the profession. It is obvious for all to see that you have an exceptional enthusiasm for your profession, and a willingness to help others along their chosen path. Your tireless work and support for the dental practitioners to provide an improved quality of care for their patients is well known.’

Professor Kay holds a Mature Educator Certificate for Excellence in Dental Education awarded by the Association for Dental Education in Europe 2011, and she has achieved repeated personal recognition by the Advisory Council on Clinical Excellence Awards.

She supports the NHS and dental public health as a (Shadow) Governor for Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, as Associate Non-Executive Director of Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust and as Topic Expert to the NICE Public Health Advisory Committee.

She is a specialist committee member on the oral health promotion in care homes and hospitals Quality Standards Advisory Committee at NICE. She is Trustee of the British Dental Health Foundation and Chair of the Shirley Glasstone Hughes Foundation Management Committee, which oversees the commissioning of funded research in dentistry.

Professor Kay works for women as a member of the Equality Challenge Unit’s Athena Swan Medical Practice committee on its judging panels, and for students as Trustee and Vice Chair of the British Medical and Dental Students’ Trust. She has served the advisory council on Clinical Excellence Awards for eight years ensuring the effective representation in recognition of women.

Team effort

Speaking of her award, Professor Kay said: ‘When they receive awards such as this people often say “it’s not about me, it’s about my team”, but in my case this is especially true. I am surrounded by the most wonderful, talented and supportive colleagues and associates, without whom I may not have been recognised for this amazing honour. At Plymouth University Peninsula School of Dentistry, we teach our dental health profession students that they are part of a team – dentist, dental nurse, dental therapist and hygienist – and this award stands testament to the strong team ethic across our organisation.’

Professor Judith Petts CBE, vice-chancellor, University of Plymouth, added: ‘The university is proud and delighted that Professor Kay’s major contribution to dental education has been recognised by this honour. She has been at the forefront of the University of Plymouth’s dental school development, its success and its impact.’

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