Domino effect

A desire to gain knowledge — and share it — lured this dental hygiene professional into the world of academics. It also could be one reason he won the ADHA Educator of the Year Award just three years into his teaching career.
July 10th, 2018
Dr. Faizan Kabani with his 2018 ADHA Educator of the Year Award

Dr. Faizan Kabani with the 2018 American Dental Hygienists Association Educator of the Year Award

You could say that Dr. Faizan Kabani was teaching, well, before he was teaching. Even in 2011 as a dental hygienist in the pediatric outpatient clinic at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, Kabani, then pursuing a dual MBA and master’s degree in health care administration, led his fair share of instruction. Upward of 100 dental hygiene students from North Texas schools would rotate through the clinic during the year. Kabani and his co-workers were more than happy to educate them on the intricacies of patient care for this special group of youngsters, all of whom have orthopedic conditions that sometimes render them immobile and nonverbal.

From the moment Kabani started his career, he remained committed to continued learning. The graduate degrees he earned while working eventually segued into a part-time faculty position at Collin College as well as doctoral coursework at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. In June 2016, an opportunity arose for Kabani to share his knowledge through a full-time teaching position at Texas A&M College of Dentistry’s Caruth School of Dental Hygiene. He jumped. Not long after, he received his Ph.D. in public health.

“The sharing of knowledge is very fundamental,” says Kabani, assistant professor, who supervises Caruth students in the college’s Special Care Clinic and oversees dental hygiene student research. “Nobody loses anything from sharing; the world gains. The purpose of knowledge is to use it to serve and benefit humanity.”

This drive is not lost on Kabani’s students. Or the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, which honored him with the 2018 Educator of the Year Award during its annual session in late June.

Students like Emily Stone ’18 have been inspired to take a similar path deeper into academics.

“My passion for serving those in need was perpetuated by Dr. Kabani’s heart for service, which has motivated me to pursue my master’s in public health so that I can help the people who need it the most,” she says.

She remembers working with Kabani throughout the course of her second-year research project. Stone and group members enjoyed extensive accolades this spring for their dental stem cell research, including first place at the Texas Dental Hygienists’ Association’s informative poster competition, the College of Dentistry’s Research Scholars Day and the Dallas Dental Hygienists’ Association’s poster presentation night.

“Dr. Kabani was always so encouraging,” Stone says. “His kind and professional demeanor motivated me to be a better dental hygienist both clinically and scholarly. I felt more confident in my abilities after every single teaching moment he offered and more intelligent after every conversation with him.”

Her impression coincides with the values at the heart of Kabani’s primary teaching focus.

“My favorite aspect of being a dental hygiene educator is embracing the continuous challenge of igniting a love for learning within the hearts of my students,” says Kabani. “My goal is to help facilitate and inspire a genuine desire to serve humanity. I challenge our students to explore topics that not only align with the current national dental hygiene research focus areas, but also topics that, if explored further, could potentially improve the quality of life of our patients and vulnerable populations.”

— Jennifer Fuentes