Women’s History Month Profiles – Dr Akhila Muthukrishnan

To celebrate Women’s History Month, Naomi Douglas and Chloe Poole (UBDSS), in collaboration with the ED&I Committee, asked some of our female staff to reflect on their careers, achievements, inspirations, and challenges they’ve overcome. This is just a small portion of the inspiring women that we work with at Bristol Dental School.

The next in our series is Dr Akhila Muthukrishnan.

What advice would you give your dental student/younger self?
I was vociferous in opposing any form of discrimination as a youngster, particularly about gender inequality and societal norms that discriminated against disabled people. This often met with resistance. The advice I would give to my younger self would be: “You are absolutely right to challenge discrimination. Keep at it.”

What’s the greatest achievement of your career so far?
There is so much unfinished work in education and services for people who have barriers to accessing oral health and healthcare. Being a Consultant in Special Care Dentistry is a great opportunity to play my part in the challenges we face.

Which women have inspired you in your career?
Rukmini Devi Arundale – founder of the dance school of Kalakshetra in my home-town of Chennai, India. She helped Indians under the colonial British empire regain pride in their rich art, music and culture, while also fighting for the emancipation of women in society. Despite her creative genius and organisational success, she remained humble and led a simple lifestyle, close to nature.
In dentistry, Prof (emeritus) Shelagh Thompson – one of the founders of Special Care Dentistry in the UK – for her unflagging support and enthusiasm.

What have been the biggest challenges or triumphs for you during the pandemic? (at work or personally)
The biggest work-related challenge during the pandemic has been to ensure that patients who already have several barriers to care are looked after, and services changed to meet their needs. We are seeing some innovative ways of working now and I am deeply grateful for the opportunities for growth that this period has provided.

If you’d like to contribute to this blog series, simply email your answers (and an image of yourself) to ords-swan@bristol.ac.uk.

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