Mangawhai resident, Dr Ellen Johnson, has been presented the 2013 Outstanding Young Dentist Award at the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) conference in Rotorua last month.
The award recognises young members of the NZDA under the age of 35 who have made a significant contribution to the dental profession.
Ellen, 28, says she was truly honoured to receive such a prestigious award after being nominated by her Northland branch and president, Dr Amanda Johnston.
“This award will give me the opportunity to speak at conferences and it will help lift the profile of public health dentistry in Northland.”
With most of her work in Whangarei and throughout Northland as community dentist for Northland DHB, Ellen commutes each day from her home in Mangawhai that she shares with partner Adrian.
Ellen has had many roles – including mentoring and lecturing – and is currently the Northland NZDA branch secretary.
In addition she works for Mobile Surgical Services, and has also undertaken small projects helping to improve the oral health of Northlanders, and set up a tooth-brushing programme on a remote island in Vanuatu – all while studying for her masters in community dentistry.
From the age of 10 Ellen decided to become a dentist: “It was possibly inspired by my orthodontist – I had head-gear like Lisa Simpson – so goodness knows why but it fascinated me.”
Her passion for dentistry and public health led her to Otago University where she graduated in 2008 with a bachelor of dental surgery.
“I enjoy helping people. There is a lot of job satisfaction with what I do.”
Ellen will hold her title for two years, and says she is grateful for the continued support from the Northland DHB oral health services team, her friends and family.
Known as ‘Doss’ to her family, she enjoys surfing, swimming and gardening.
Ellen and her family have had a long association with the Mangawhai area. Parents Paul and Phillipa have played a major part in the local surf life saving club, and she has been a member for over 15 years.
“I thoroughly enjoy living, working and being a part of the Northland community. I can’t understand why everyone doesn't want to be a dentist!”