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Pathways: Naimesha Patel

Can you tell us a little about your career and the path you took to your present role at FoDOCS? 

My interest in Maxillofacial Prosthetics was stimulated and nurtured when I began studying Maxillofacial Technology some 25 years ago under the tutelage of the internationally renowned Mr Colin Haylock. An exceptional educator, he encouraged my passion for teaching. He not only possessed in-depth knowledge and an ability to explain clearly the most complicated concepts, but was approachable, empathetic, and always willing to enable us to achieve jointly and individually. His passion inspired me to apply for the Master’s Programme in Maxillofacial and Craniofacial Technology at Kings College London in 2008. I became a practising full member of the Institute of Maxillofacial Prosthetists and Technologists (IMPT) in 2009, (now am their Honorary Treasurer), and the submission of my clinical portfolio set the “gold standard” for the Assessment Interview Board. My development of the Professional Training and Clinical Skills Logbook is mandatory for all students, and applicants seeking membership of the IMPT.

On completion of my studies, I was employed as a Clinical Tutor in the Academic Centre of Reconstructive Science (ACRS) at Kings College London Dental Institute in January 2009 and gained promotion to Senior Clinical Tutor in 2016. In June 2019, I was successful in my appointment to Senior Lecturer in Maxillofacial Prosthetic Education through the Academic Education Pathway. I acquired my teaching qualification in 1998, and then worked as Dental Technical Instructor, based at Kings College Hospital, Denmark Hill, contributing to the teaching of Year 3 dental undergraduates in Prosthetic Dentistry. In 2003, I was appointed to the post of Dental Technical Laboratory Services Manager at Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust till 2009.

My most significant contribution to this establishment during the last eleven years, has focused on the clinical and technical teaching for international and national students enrolled on the three masters’ programmes within ACRS. Currently we are the only institution in the world to run masters programmes for Maxillofacial Prosthetists, Prosthodontists and Anaplastologists, and have established an international reputation as a centre of excellence in this field. To date, 142 students have successfully graduated. I was nominated for the King’s Education Award in 2022. Our Distance Learning Programme is the only one of its kind to “offer hands on clinical treatment” and I am solely responsible for delivery, timetabling, organisation of travel arrangements and accommodation for all clinical staff and students.

What, if any, challenges did you encounter along the way, and how did you navigate them? 

The main challenges I have faced have been to achieve a work life balance which is still a work in progress, discrepancy in pay for doing undertaking the same role as a male counterpart and gaining the professional respect from my peers. I realised early on that working hard, asking for what I want and deserve, and my mentor’s guidance, have made me become more educated about diversity and inclusion, I feel more empowered and prepared to succeed in my chosen career and be more vocal about my experiences as a woman of colour.

If you could, what advice would you give your younger self at the start of your career? 

My advice to my younger self would be to trust my intuition more, believe I deserve better for myself, and be more confident in my own abilities and self. I would seek out strong women mentors, and support increasing communication and networking between women in different health care professions. An excellent way to participate in this effort would be to join the virtual community across all fields of medicine.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Embrace Equity’. What does equity mean to you, and how can everyone (regardless of gender) embrace it? 

Embracing equity to me is to ensure the fair treatment, access, equality of opportunity and advancement for everyone irrespective of their race, age, ethnicity, religion, ability, gender, or sexual orientation, while also attempting to identify and remove the barriers that have prevented some groups from fully participating.