Oral Health: Dr Pam Leong

Dr Pam Leong has completed a Diploma of Oral Health Therapy, a Masters (Rural Health) and a PhD at the University of Melbourne.

Dr Pam Leong is currently using her training in Oral Health as an Investigator and Project Coordinator of a large twins study at the Murdoch Children's Institute.

“The Peri/postnatal Epigenetic Twins Study (PETS) has been collecting information about a cohort of 250 twin pairs to study the influences of genes and environment on epigenetics.

“For the past four years, the main focus of the study has been to understand the links between oral health, heart health and gut health. My main role, with my knowledge of oral health and research experience, was to coordinate the study from development of a protocol, guidelines and gaining ethical approval, to recruitment, data, sample collection, the research team’s activities and supervising students."

Since completing her studies at the University, Pam has had an exciting and varied career including being a member of the Dental Practice Board of Victoria for eight years.

“The journey I have taken as a direct result of gaining my tertiary education at The University of Melbourne has been an amazing one. In addition to academic teaching and gaining further qualifications (Master of Rural Health, PhD), my eight years on the Dental Practice Board of Victoria is something I am particularly proud of. Highlights from these years include the list of duties removed for dental therapists and hygienists along with the requirement for ‘supervision’. A pilot study to increase the practice of dental therapists to treat adults was also approved and the first cohort of Victorian dental therapists were registered to treat adults.”

Looking back on her time at the University, Pam has many fond memories of the lessons she learned and friends she made while studying.

“My time as a student was incredible when I think about the academic skills, knowledge and personal growth I gained during this time. Public speaking, for example, was something I would never have attempted.

“As we were a small group in that initial year, friends were quickly made and an incredible rapport with our tutors, demonstrators and lecturers was gained. Many becoming lifelong and highly valued friendships.”

Having studied and worked in Oral Health for almost two decades, Pam has observed many advances in the field.

“There have been so many changes in the profession that have directly affected me over the past 20 years. The right to private practice for dental therapists has enabled me to work in a range of practice settings utilising therapy skills. The removal of the list of duties has enabled me to conduct clinical practice commensurate with my education and competencies. I think too, that the political climate over the past 20 years has seen the recognition of dental therapists and dental hygienists as dental professionals in their own right. There are now ever increasing and exciting opportunities in clinical practice, education, shaping policy and research.”