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Interview: “My motivation is to serve my country through my society”

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Dr Samira Osailan, a vice president of the Saudi Dental Society
Dental Tribune Middle East

By Dental Tribune Middle East

Thu. 17 March 2022

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Dental Tribune MEA had a great please to speak to Dr Samira Osailan, a vice president of the Saudi Dental Society and ask her for the coming future in the region.

Dr Samira, it is a great honour to have you speak with Dental Tribune MEA. Could you please share a bit of your background with us for any of our readers who might not be familiar with you?

I am a Saudi woman and was born in Medina. I completed my BDS at King Saud University in Riyadh, as well as my master’s and residency training in oral and maxillofacial surgery, and I was the first Saudi female oral and maxillofacial surgeon. After this, I was employed at the Saudi Ministry of Health. For my PhD, I went to King’s College London in the UK. After obtaining a PhD in 2005, I earned my fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons of England. That same year, I was offered a job at King’s as a lecturer in the oral and maxillofacial surgery department. I went on to work there for seven years and, during this time, achieved a master’s degree in education. In 2010, I was appointed head of undergraduate teaching in my department, supervising 25 members of staff. In this role, I developed the teaching strategy in my department and established a standardised structure which is still followed to this day. In 2012, I was recruited by the dean of the dental school at King Abdulaziz University and joined the university in 2013. I was appointed postgraduate director and was an executive member of many committees. I introduced the objective structured clinical examination format to the school, and I am the main organiser. I recently established the University Dental Hospital CPR Training Centre and am currently its director. Additionally, I am head of the supervisory committee of health colleges for clinical skills centres and simulation in education at the university. In 2015, I was elected an executive committee board member and head of the Western region committee of the Saudi Dental Society. 

My stay in the UK helped me ensure that I fulfil my roles to my maximum potential through training in leadership, professional communication, public relations and media engagement. I founded the Saudi Arabia Women’s Association, whose mission was to establish the right image for professional Saudi women.

"My plan is aligned with the society’s vision that we become one of the leading organisations globally..."

In January 2022, you were appointed a vice president of the Saudi Dental Society. Did you expect this, and what did you feel when you found out about your appointment?

I am thrilled to be a vice president of the Saudi Dental Society in order to carry on serving my society and dentists in my country. I was a board member from 2015 to 2022 and have been an active member of the society since I was an undergraduate. 

You are the first woman to be elected a vice president of the society since its establishment in 1981. How does that make you feel?

I am proud of being the first Saudi woman to be a vice president of the mother society of dentistry in my country. I am known to be a strong and confident Saudi woman.

What motivated you to accept your appointment as vice president?

My motivation is to serve my country through my society. I like to help in my community and always try to empower young dentists from the start of their careers. Since 2013, I have been an active member of the Saudi Dental Society in Jeddah and have served the society via organising lectures and workshops, as well as participating in community service. 

Could you please tell us briefly about the society and what is stands for, its major activities and whom it represents? 

The Saudi Dental Society was the first dental society in the country. Our mission is to give comprehensive support to dentists on three levels: education, research and community service in the field of dentistry. 

With a new role comes new opportunities. Could you share with us what your plans are for the future regarding the society?

My plan is aligned with the society’s vision that we become one of the leading organisations globally and play more evident roles in the international community in order to have our voices heard in bodies such as the World Health Organization and UNESCO and to see more Saudis in leading positions in the field of dentistry globally. Locally, we seek to increase the work of dental research and awareness of the importance of oral health and reduce the incidence of caries. We have a five-year strategic plan, which we as the current board hope to complete most of during the next three years, the remainder of our term. 

How do you see dentistry in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia? How has it evolved in the past few years?

In my opinion, dentistry in the Middle East is continuously improving. The region is up to date in technology, especially in Saudi Arabia, but we need to boost our exposure in the Western media. We have many talented Arab speakers who are well known in their countries and in the Middle East, are but not yet known in Europe or the US, for example. 

Thank you for your time.

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