By CHRISTINE NATHE, RDH, MS
The dental hygienist I am featuring in this month’s column has created a company that aims to help advance the education of dental hygienists nationwide. She is a graduate of the dental hygiene program at San Juan College in Farmington, N.M., and she has presented to 15 different state dental boards.
Recently, she started speaking about the importance of continuing education for the advancement of dental hygiene careers. She is also partnering with Procter & Gamble to develop curriculum for dental hygienists on how to integrate with medical offices to teach them how to talk to patients about periodontal disease and to make oral care become top of mind to them when they have patients with inflammation-induced diseases. I recently asked her a few questions about her career.
Why did you decide to go into dental hygiene?
I had been a dental assistant for about four years when I decided I wanted to have a more flexible schedule, and cleaning teeth seemed easy. Little did I know what was really involved, but I am so glad I decided on a career in dental hygiene.
What are your current positions?
I practice clinically one day a week at an amazing dental practice. I also serve as secretary on the New Mexico Dental Hygienists Committee, which is part of the New Mexico Board of Dental Health Care. Although dental hygienists are not self-regulated in New Mexico, all dental hygiene-related matters do need to be reviewed and approved by the Dental Hygienists Committee.
Additionally, I serve as a dental hygiene board examiner for two different agencies, and I am the CEO and founder of CE Zoom, a continuing education tracking system.
How did you get into dental public health?
I found a public health need, which was helping dental professionals keep track of their continuing education in accordance with their states’ rules and regulations. By doing so, I realized that it is just as hard for the state dental board to do an audit as it is for the professional to keep track of their courses and know what is required of them. I had already created a state-specific continuing education tracker, all I had to do was submit it to state dental boards in the format that the licensed professionals were using.
We added in a few features for the board staff to be able to deny a continuing education certificate if it was fraudulent or placed in the wrong category. Now it is a simple process for state boards and not a daunting task.
Can you discuss any particularly interesting experiences you have had in your dental public health positions?
It has been interesting to realize how important it is for dental hygienists to keep track of their continuing education courses so that they do not jeopardize their licensure. I wanted to make the process easier since it is vital to us. Actually, it took me over four years of research before starting CE Zoom.
Also, I always thought what I have to say could possibly be boring for others to hear, but every time I speak about it, I am proven wrong. This is rewarding!
What advice would you give to a hygienist who wants to do something different?
Starting a business is one of the longest roller coaster rides you will embark on. No one does this (or anything that has never been done before) without pushing all doubts and negativity aside and jumping in feet first. If you have an idea, you believe in that idea, and you have weighed all the positives and negatives, do it. Don’t give up! You never know what is around the corner. Be good to everyone, and do not get caught up in any drama. Stand up for what you believe in.
Sarah perfectly fills the role of entrepreneur, as it’s defined by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association.1 Remember this when thinking about how to use your dental hygiene skills to advance our profession and ultimately the public’s health!
For more information about Sarah’s company, visit CEZoom.com. RDH
CHRISTINE NATHE, RDH, MS, is director at the University of New Mexico, Division of Dental Hygiene, in Albuquerque, N.M. She is also the author of “Dental Public Health Research” (www.pearsonhighered.com/educator), which is in its third edition with Pearson. She can be reached at [email protected] or (505) 272-8147.
1. Career Paths. American Dental Hygienists’ Association website. http://www.adha.org/professional-roles.