Continuing professional development in dentistry: Interview with Dr Ali Nankali
Dr Ali Nankali has spent most of his adult life teaching and conducting research. His hard work and dedication have earned him an excellent reputation among clinicians, and his ambition to unite dental professionals prompted him to launch UKDentalCourses (UKDC), an online education platform that offers continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities to dentists worldwide. In this interview, he talks about the rationale behind establishing UKDC and shares his thoughts on having organised UKDC’s first international event, the Digital Dentistry Conference.
Dr Nankali, could you tell us a bit about your background in dentistry and research?
I have led quite a diverse life. When I was a teenager, my dream was to become an engineer. I began my career by setting up an international business and simultaneously commenced my studies in business management and then industrial engineering, which enabled me to build an industrial factory for the business.
Since my family wanted to emigrate, I managed to pass the business over to someone else. I decided that, owing to this move, I should change my career path to medicine. We ended up moving to Ukraine, and to my surprise, I discovered a new passion for medicine and dentistry. I studied there for 14 years and attained my PhD along with the title of specialist/consultant in prosthodontics.
My background in engineering complemented my new degree and enabled me to propose new classifications, design dental instruments, obtain patents and write several scientific papers on my dentistry-related novel inventions. Furthermore, my existing background and experience helped me to better understand certain dental subjects, such as digital dentistry.
I currently run UKDC and work as a clinical senior lecturer at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen Mary University of London, where I teach and supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students. During the last two decades, I have become recognised as an international speaker. Therefore, I regularly run national and international CPD courses, give talks and chair conferences.
What motivated you to establish UKDC, and how does it benefit dental professionals?
Dedicating half of my professional life to teaching and the other half to research and innovation has earned me a positive reputation among clinicians, and I was asked to fill a gap in the market by providing new dental courses. This was the motivation behind starting up UKDC. I wanted to bring the dental community together and to provide bespoke and tailored courses which are interesting, engaging and help us keep up with the latest trends.
Before starting up, I approached several senior lecturers and speakers who were quick to show interest in helping me establish the platform, and this was an important driving factor for me.
I started working on UKDC last year, and the website was released online in the middle of June 2019. Although it is a new organisation, UKDC has exceeded my expectations. Besides providing excellent courses, we offer access to a members’ room, where clinicians are automatically updated on the latest available courses and other related information.
At the moment, we have fewer than 4,000 registered members on the website. They are very active and show a lot of support behind the scenes. This number is growing every month, and we hope to have 10,000 users by the end of 2020.
The main services that are requested by our members include provision of physical and online short-term courses, opportunities for CPD accreditation, creation of professional showcase pages and organisation of events such as educational conferences.
We do our best to provide our members with the best service. The consistent feedback shows that the quality of the courses has exceeded everyone’s expectations and delivered value for money. We are committed to ensuring quality courses and customer satisfaction.
You have recently organised your first event, the Digital Dentistry Conference, which took place at Queen Mary University of London. What were some of the topics covered, and what has been the feedback so far?
Yes, the Digital Dentistry Conference was our first international event and took place on 6 March 2020. I am very grateful to the people who helped me organise and run the event.
Speakers who attended the event came from well-known organisations, including Queen Mary University of London, King’s College London, the Dental Defence Union (DDU), Planmeca and Modjaw. In addition, we received great support from the media, especially from Dental Tribune, so a big thanks to you all.
After a brief introduction, we kicked off the event by illustrating the potential capacity of digital dentistry in our professional life, and discussing its related rules and regulations. Then, after the morning tea break, the speakers highlighted some of the latest achievements in the industry. Lunch break was a good time for the DDU, Planmeca, Modjaw and others to work on their networking. The afternoon session was devoted to the use of digital technology in the clinic. We then ended the day with PhD students’ success stories.
I am very pleased to say that we have only received positive feedback so far. The attendees enjoyed the speakers and found the conference to be well organised and highly educational. Subsequently, they have asked for similar events to be organised in the future. This promising feedback encouraged us to start planning new conferences, including another Digital Dentistry Conference possibly taking place in April 2021. We are grateful to our members, and we hope that they realise that UKDC is here for them.
Queen Mary University of London played an important role in our conference, and we are grateful for its excellent services. Students from the dental institute at the university also were important in helping to run the conference. We are now considering the planning of other interesting events and are looking forward to sharing them with you soon.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to our supporters, sponsors and partners who make UKDC unique. I also would like to say thank you to Dental Tribune for giving me this amazing opportunity to talk about UKDC.
Editorial note: Dental professionals can find more information at ukdentalcourses.com.