Partnership makes global connections for dental hygiene program

U of A School of Dentistry and Aga Khan University Dental Hygiene Program share mentorship and friendship to the benefit of dental hygiene everywhere.

Jessalyn King - 30 October 2020

Two new classes of first-year dental hygiene students will be using a series of videos developed by the School of Dentistry’s Sally Lockwood, Associate Clinical Professor in Dental Hygiene. Most interesting is that one of these classes is in Karachi, Pakistan!

Lockwood created the videos to support teaching in the periodontal instrumentation skills lab. She says there wasn't a resource that met her course needs exactly, so she made 27 videos demonstrating technique for her students to watch at any time. She says she’s happy the School’s hard work could be shared. “I have a lot of confidence in our pre-clinical program,” she says. “We have a lot of expertise in our department so I was excited we could share this resource with them.”

The University of Alberta has partnered with Aga Khan University (AKU) for more than 15 years. The director of their Dental Hygiene Program, Salima Alibhai, says, “Shared resources for sustainability, such as these videos, contribute to a range of practices including introductory hands-on instrumentation for the simulation lab and revision exercises on our virtual learning platform.”

In 2010, when the School of Dentistry began moving into new facilities, they donated some equipment to AKU’s Pakistani and East African campuses. Around the same time, Dr. Sharon Compton, Associate Chair (Dental Hygiene) and Director of the Dental Hygiene Program at the U of A, provided an external review of AKU’s proposal to implement their new dental hygiene program, and the School of Dentistry donated their course outlines and syllabi from the former two-year dental hygiene diploma as well as some learning materials. Over the years, several of the U of A’s instructors and alumni have become instructors and program directors at the AKU program.

The advocate and visionary for establishing creating the dental hygiene program at AKU was Dr. Saida Rasul, dental surgeon and leader in the Pakistani oral health community. Pakistan has very high rates of oral cancers, so Rasul has advocated for better oral health education, funding, and equipment in dental hygiene. Dental hygiene is not established as a professional group in Pakistan and Rasul seeks to change this in order to bring needed oral care to the people of Pakistan.

When Alibhai was recruited to AKU in 2018, Rasul asked Compton to mentor her. Rasul says, “We are eternally grateful to Dr. Sharon Compton for her continuing mentorship, support and guidance.”

During a visit to Karachi in 2018, Compton says that among other work, she helped to build collaborations between the dental hygiene program and the other health programs in the medical college at AKU Karachi. Rasul says, “The impact of the contributions made by U of A will be lasting and far-reaching on our programme in promoting students’ positive development and academic performance.”

“Our dental hygiene program has experienced so much growth during my time here,” says Compton. “I am pleased I could spare Salima some of the growing pains I experienced. This intercollegial sharing truly uplifts our profession.”