ADHA Mourns Loss of Dental Hygiene Educator and Researcher Margaret M. Walsh, RDH, EdD

Posted on February 1, 2016

Newswise — Chicago (Jan. 29, 2016) The American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) was saddened to learn of the death of Margaret (“Peg”) M. Walsh, RDH, EdD.

Walsh was a scholar who advanced the philosophical basis for dental hygiene while remaining true to the values and ethics of teaching, scholarship and research. Her work with Michele Darby, RDH, MS, to develop and assess a human needs conceptual model for disease prevention and health promotion from the dental hygiene perspective resulted in papers in the Journal of Dental Hygiene (JDH) and Canadian Journal of Dental Hygiene as well as their textbook, Dental Hygiene Theory and Practice, currently in its fourth edition. She served the ADHA as a member of the JDH Editorial Review Board and JDH Executive Advisory Board. Walsh was a powerful advocate for doctoral education in dental hygiene who fully supported the transformation of dental hygiene education and the profession for the 21st century.

“Dr. Walsh was an unrelenting advocate for dental hygiene education and in furthering the standards of dental hygiene practice,” said ADHA President Jill Rethman, RDH, BA. “An icon in our profession, she always promoted the highest quality care for patients and fought tirelessly to ensure that many received such care. We often hear the term ‘visionary’ to describe someone who can see things as they should be. Peg epitomized the term. Her countless efforts and contributions will live on in the students she taught, the individuals she helped and the colleagues she inspired. We mourn her passing, but know that because we were fortunate to have Peg touch our lives, she will always be with us.”

Walsh was a professor emerita in the Department of Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Dentistry, teaching dental hygiene students for over 30 years. From 1986 to 1992, she chaired the Division of Dental Hygiene at UCSF. In 2008, she assumed responsibility for developing a proposal for a new Master of Science degree program in dental hygiene that was approved in 2010 by the Office of the President and the Board of Regents. Walsh, who resigned her position at UCSF only last week, spent the past few years mentoring others to assume responsibilities for the master’s program that she directed and that bears her signature.

“Dr. Walsh's contributions to dental hygiene education have shaped our profession as well as the lives of her students over her many years as a dental hygiene educator and leader,” added ADHA Chief Executive Officer Ann Battrell, MSDH. “Her passion and commitment to disease prevention and health promotion, especially in the area of tobacco cessation, were evident in the many programs and community services she was involved in and her contributions to dental research.”

Walsh conducted research on tobacco use and cessation since 1986. She was principal investigator for five large-scale, randomized-controlled intervention trials funded by the National Institutes of Health and the California Tobacco-related Disease Research Program. Most recently, she was principal investigator of a large-scale study to assess use of smokeless tobacco and other emerging products among rural high school males and resulting nicotine and carcinogen exposure. Intervention programs developed by Walsh and her colleagues included dental professionals, school nurses, college athletic trainers and student peer leaders in their delivery. She lectured and published widely on tobacco cessation and amassed a grant record unmatched in the dental hygiene profession.

Walsh received many honors, including being the First Visiting Professor in Dental Hygiene, UMKC School of Dentistry in 1986. She was elected as a member of the Sigma Phi Alpha dental hygiene honor society and to Omicron Kappa Upsilon national dental honor society. She also is one of the first recipients of the Award for Professional Excellence in Dental Hygiene from the ADHA (1988) and was the first recipient of the Oral/Dental Hygiene Researcher Award given by IADR (1996). She received the 2006 Medal of Honor and the 2011 Legacy of Leadership Award from the UCSF School of Dentistry Alumni Association, culminating with the national 2014 Esther Wilkins Dental Hygiene Lifetime Achievement Award.

A celebration of Peg Walsh’s life is being planned at the UCSF Parnassus campus, with details to come, along with an address where cards and remembrances can be sent.

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