The human ability to smile separates them from all the other animals on the planet. A beautiful smile with a healthy set of pearl whites is enough to easily manifest a happy feeling around you. Good oral health also contributes to personality, productivity, quality of life, and longevity.
However, India has one of the highest cases of oral cancer in the world. Dental cavities, misaligned teeth, and sensitivity are other rampant problems widely spread in the country. These problems contribute a significant amount of monetary and productivity loss each year. Lack of awareness about essential oral health in the population adds to this unaddressed problem.
Ankita Jaiswal is one of the prominent dental educators in the country, with one pious vision- to amplify information and access to good oral health in India.
In an interview with Insights Success, Ankita shares her views about her vision for oral health education in India. Following are some excerpts from the interview:
Please tell us about your journey throughout the education sector from the beginning of your career and your inspiration to pursue it.
During my post-graduation, I realised that behind every great doctor, there is a great teacher who instills not only knowledge but also moral values in an individual. That day I decided to be an educator in the healthcare field to shape new dentists with brilliant knowledge and values so that they can contribute something good to society. My journey started with my postgraduate lecture taking roles in Saraswati Dental College, Lucknow. I continued following my passion in Vyas Dental College, Jodhpur, and then returning to my parent college was a dream come true. I learned that if you are honest with your work, students will give you respect and love, and I am blessed to have such good students who always motivate me to do better for them. Even my seniors have always encouraged me to achieve what I am today, and I hope to deliver the same passion, knowledge, values to the student and society.
What inspired you to step into the education industry? Who were your role models growing up?
In my Masters (M.D.S.), I was blessed with brilliant mentors. They not only helped me in developing my skills but also gave me an insight in enhancing my personality to step confidently into the real world. It was then that I realized that an educator not only shapes the mind of students but also enhances overall personality, which is good for the well-being of society. My first role model is my mother, Mrs.Nisha Jaiswal, who taught me to be a bold and strong lady to face any challenges of this world. Followed by my father, Mr.Akhilesh Kumar Jaiswal, who never made me realize that I am his daughter, he had always treated me as equal as my brother. And the third person who has always inspired me is my brother, Mr.Amit Jaiswal, who has always encouraged me to dream big, imparted me wings to fly. I would also mention my esteemed mentor, Dr. Rajni Tandon, and Dr. Pratik Chandra, who acquired me the knowledge and skills and helped me step into the education sector.
Tell us about your esteemed institute, its mission, vision, and core values.
Saraswati Group of Educational Institutes started as Saraswati Dental College in 1998. Late Col. (Dr.) T.S. Mathur and Mrs. Madhu Mathur headed this Group with vigor and vitality. Its mission, vision, and core values are :
- To transcend boundaries and be a global brand in value education in dentistry.
- To sculpture and produce moral, civic, and socially responsible professionals by providing integrated dental education in a diverse learning environment.
- To promote a campus environment that welcomes and honors women and men irrespective of their religion, caste, creed, and cultures and create an atmosphere that values intellectual curiosity, the pursuit of knowledge, academic freedom, and integrity.
- To create bridges between industry and academics through collaborative research and continuous interaction.
- To render affordable, prompt, and diverse dental & medical treatment to society.
- To develop Saraswati Dental College into a center of excellence of international acclaim in dental education, healthcare, and research.
What are the priorities of your institute in terms of course objectives and learning outcomes?
Saraswati Dental College and the Group of institutes aim to produce graduates and postgraduates with strong ethical and moral values. Below are some other important aspects we stress upon:
- To produce quality dental graduates and postgraduates with strong ethical and moral values.
- To provide prompt, affordable & quality healthcare treatment in general and dental treatment in particular to all, to reduce the burden of oro-dental diseases from society.
- To keep students and faculty (all stakeholders) abreast with recent developments and methodologies in the field of dental and allied sciences.
- Promote research in dental and allied sciences.
- To provide equal opportunity to all eligible candidates aspiring for dental education.
- To inculcate professional skills in graduate and postgraduate students by providing excellent dental education to enable them to excel in a highly competitive and diverse global market.
- To provide a learning environment that promotes students’ ethical and moral value systems for a quality dental practice to cater to society’s growing dental health needs.
- To promote a campus environment that treats women and men of all religions, races, creeds, and cultures equally and establish an environment that values integrity, academic freedom, and intellectual curiosity to pursue new knowledge.
- To provide a wide variety of off-campus educational and training opportunities, including information technologies, to dental students and faculty.
- To impart basic and advanced learning by engaging in scientific research to improve human health and quality of life.
- To promote research in the field of dentistry and allied sciences by exposing the faculty and students to recent research methodologies and by creating world-class facilities within the institution.
- To collaborate with industry, government, and non-government institutions to provide interdisciplinary academic programs and bridge the institute industry gap.
- To promote and educate environment-friendly practices in society.
Kindly share your views regarding interactive, online education and how it is redefining the ways we learn.
We have been facing a pandemic for two years now. During this time, the biggest challenge was to continue education while ensuring the safety of students, and that brought online education into the picture.
A new window of opportunity has opened for the education sector; with these interactive online classes, we get to know those students, who were earlier not able to reach any institute, that too from the comfort of their homes. The online education system has redefined the learning process in a whole new way. But it also has brought new challenges to the surface. Online teaching is cumbersome as well as the process of learning is dependent on the student. On the contrary, the offline learning process gives control to the teachers. We ensure students understand this drawback of online learning and encourage countering this problem to attain satisfactory results.
What are the biggest challenges and struggles faced by educators in general?
In this competitive world with constantly changing dynamics, the biggest challenge for educators is to instill discipline, determination, and consistency in the learning process as there is too much distraction out there. The educators, in general, would often find themselves in a dilemma whether to orient the students to just focus on the syllabus for good grades or to lead them to explore the real world of their prospective subjects. Every educator must be updated with the changing dynamics to encourage the students in making careers not only in a conventional stream but also in extraordinary newly emerging streams.
Education is considered a tool of empowerment. What efforts do you and the institution take to make sure that education is provided to those who need it?
I am an Orthodontist by profession, and being in the healthcare sector, educating the people in the rural sector about their health and well-being is of main concern for me and my institution. Our institute regularly organizes many educational health check-up camps to spread awareness about maintaining their oral health. The institute and I share a common vision of educating people not only inside the boundary of college but to spread the knowledge outside the institution also.
Kindly mention any of your awards, accolades, and accreditations.
I have been awarded several awards in the past years, including – the Women of Substance Award 2022 in healthcare (orthodontist) and Real Superwomen 2020 in healthcare (orthodontist).
What advice can you give to those who want to step into the field of education?
To be a part of the education field, one’s skills and knowledge have to keep on upgrading. The education field requires patience and discipline. However, in the current scenario, an educator should also have an open mind to be able to learn from every person around. We have to understand that knowledge is not only confined to books but beyond that too.
Please share what lies ahead for you and your institution in the near future?
Since the time and methodology have changed a lot for me as an educator, I have to focus more on innovating and recreating new learning lessons than following the conventional ones.
Saraswati Dental College aims to expand the horizon of knowledge and skills globally with tools that can be accessed easily online also.