Rdh Advisory Board July 2023

RDH Advisory Board spotlight: Carol Jahn, Sarah Lawrence, Bethany Montoya

July 18, 2023
Meet three members of the RDH Advisory Board. Each member brings a unique perspective and expertise to our publications. Their responsibilities include peer review, content development, and connecting with the best experts.

Carol Jahn, MS, RDH

What is your focus for 2023?

My focus for 2023 is really the same focus I have had for years—continue to motivate myself to grow personally and professionally. Whether it’s a new study, the latest hot business book, meeting new people, connecting with longtime friends and colleagues, spending time with family, and importantly, making time for leisure and travel, all help keep me curious and engaged with life and our profession. It’s easy to focus on professional growth, but personal growth is just as important. How we show up in life should enhance who we are as professionals, not the other way around.

What advice would you give a new graduate?

Happiness at being a dental hygienist does not come from cleaning teeth, although I think most of us would agree that there is a wickedly weird pleasure that comes from blasting off calculus. However, what I learned from clinical dental hygiene and working on the corporate side is that long-term happiness in what you do comes from building relationships … and not just with patients, but with the doctor, your coworkers, and your dental hygiene colleagues. When you work on building relationships, you create bonds of trust, respect, and loyalty. These are the essential elements for surviving and thriving through the everyday ups and downs of health care.

Sarah Lawrence, RDH

What has been your hardest lesson?

In 2020, I experienced one of my greatest professional challenges; I lost my dental hygiene job of seven years. I went through many emotions, from anger to sadness to coming to terms with my new identity and finding more hope in my future than I’d ever had. It was a valuable lesson in being true to myself and the importance of aligning with those who uplift, value, and appreciate me. I am now in a role where I find fulfillment and my values align with the people I work with, and I couldn’t be happier. My biggest struggle became my sweetest, greatest blessing.

What advice would you give a new graduate?

Never stop learning and continue to be curious. It is easy to get stuck in “the way we have always done things” mentality, but we must continue to learn, question, and advocate for our patients. Time passes quickly. Information that is relevant when you first graduate can quickly be replaced with newer, more relevant information and science. Stay up-to-date and learn the “why” behind the things you recommend to your patients. With patient trust, relationships become stronger and more meaningful.

Bethany Montoya, BAS, RDH

What has been your hardest lesson?

It’s possible to be a dedicated employee, a respected clinician, and still get fired. It comes down to the alignment of expectations between employer and employee, and there are times when those expectations simply don’t match. My job loss made me question my self-worth. Although painful, it served as a catalyst that propelled my career in a new direction. Sharing our experiences with one another is therapeutic. I wouldn’t choose the experience again, but getting fired was a major milestone in my life, and I’m glad it happened.

Why would you choose dental hygiene again?

We have opportunities to guide the public to whole-body health through oral wellness, which is exciting! We have the power to be leaders within our operatory, department, and practice. A leadership role is not always presented to us by others; often, we must discover and develop it within ourselves. My desire to lead within my practice created opportunities for me to have a high rate of treatment acceptance, introduce new technology to the office, and earn the salary I’m worth—it opened doors to expand my career beyond clinical hygiene. Now I have a professional life that challenges, sustains, and fulfills me. 

Editor's note: This article appeared in the July 2023 print edition of RDH magazine. Dental hygienists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.