The University of Newcastle, Australia

Jennifer Mankelow's story

Jennifer Mankelow has found her calling empowering her patients with information, on how best to care for their oral health, to improve their overall wellbeing.

After leaving high school Jennifer (nee Blanch) was unsure of her career direction, and took on work as a dental chair side assistant, to discover that she thoroughly enjoyed working in the health field, and most importantly that she found great satisfaction in helping people.

"After five years working in that role, I decided to further my education and pursue dental hygiene, so I enrolled in a Bachelor of Oral Health program at the University of Newcastle (UON) Central Coast Campus," Jennifer said.

"The degree was a new program offered by the UON and the dentists that I was working with at the time, highly recommended the course, so I was confident that I had made the right choice, and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience."

 Jennifer graduated from the Oral Health program in 2010, with a Dean's Merit Award in recognition of her high-level of academic achievement. She was also acknowledged for her exemplary clinical skills, displayed during her practical placement; beating other dental hygiene students from Australia and New Zealand, to win the Golden Scaler Award.

"All aspects of the Oral Health program have been fundamental in moulding the dental hygienist I have become. The degree involves numerous courses in public health, human bioscience, oral health and nutrition," Jennifer explained.

"I was given skills to educate and motivate individuals to improve the oral and overall health. It also taught me how to communicate with, and respect those around me; my patients, my colleagues and the community.

"I was supported by highly motivated and inspiring clinical tutors and lecturers and I value the influence that they have had on the professional that I am today."

Immediately after graduating, Jennifer began full-time employment at Morrin Dental, in the heart of Newcastle, and 'has not looked back'.

"I work as a Dental Hygienist in a general practice in Newcastle, alongside the principle dentist Mark Morrin," she said.

"I assess an individual's oral health status and educate them about oral health diseases in order to develop and implement treatment plans, with the overall goal of improving their oral health.

"My position also involves visiting local schools and pre-schools presenting educational programs to improve children's knowledge and habits in regards to healthy eating and preventing dental disease."

Jennifer is thankful that she took the advice of her early career mentors, and decided to take the plunge and leave work for full-time study.

"I did not realise how rewarding this profession would be and every day I am thankful that I took the step and begun full-time study," Jennifer said.

"I have found my passion and a career where I can empower people to improve their quality of life.

"I thoroughly enjoy the career I have chosen and can see myself happily continuing in this profession."