Each week the RDH PIRA (Patient Impact & Rise Above) recognition program, sponsored by Water Pik, Inc., features a dental hygiene clinician who excels in their role and goes the extra mile in their job. The past two years have been a challenge for many clinicians and as we return to the operatory, we want to acknowledge those providing patient care—clinicians who are changing their patients’ lives, influencing their patients’ health, and making a daily difference. This week we honor Nicole (Nikki) Kulis, RDH.
I've always been very interested in teeth. When I was looking for a career, I knew hygiene was the perfect fit. As clinicians, we always hope that we’re making a difference in patients’ lives. Having been at the same practice for more than eight years, I can definitely tell I've made a difference because patients are excited to see me and tell me about the changes they've made to improve their oral health. My biggest obstacle was learning to talk with patients in a way that motivates and inspires them. My mentors helped me improve through the years and now I feel confident explaining any treatment to patients, and they truly understand where they stand with their oral health.
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One patient who changed my life was an elderly gentleman whose teeth needed help. He wanted to have "a smile." Our doctor completed a bridge and a partial and the patient cried when we completed treatment he was so happy. I saw him every three months for years until his passing. He had serious medical issues that hindered him from taking care of his teeth. He reminded me of my dad with his struggles to care for his teeth. This is why I love helping patients! It’s hard to know exactly how you might influence someone. The clinicians I've worked have said that they’re encouraged by my positive energy and work ethic.
I’m from Long Island, New York. I moved to North Carolina and graduated from the University of North Carolina with my dental hygiene degree. I started my hygiene career in pediatrics, but I love where I am now, and I still get to treat some children. I like treating the same patients and I enjoy my coworkers. I love learning new policies and procedures, including using our new iTero scanner!
Visit the PIRA website to nominate someone today! Good luck, and we look forward to hearing from many outstanding and qualified colleagues!