Gina Lemense Online

Her advice for new hygienists: Find a mentor first

Dec. 27, 2022
Attend continuing education. Find a mentor. Develop individual home care routines for patients. These are just a few helpful ideas Gina Lemense shares with new hygienists.

Each week the RDH PIRA (Patient Impact & Rise Above) recognition program, sponsored by Water Pik, Inc., features a dental hygiene clinician who excels in his or her role and goes the extra mile. The past two and a half years have been a challenge for many clinicians and as we return to the operatory, we want to acknowledge those who provide patient care—clinicians who are changing their patients’ lives, influencing their patients’ health, and making a difference every day. This week we honor Regina (Gina) Lemense, RDH.

During her fairly short career so far, Gina Lemense has developed some sound advice for her colleagues. She was nominated by one of her instructors for the PIRA honor, and Gina responded by acknowledging how humbled she is to be nominated and by sharing her advice. 

“I have met so many amazing hygienists. I think the greatest success in my (very short) career thus far is personalizing home care routines for each of my patients. Yes, flossing and brushing are fundamentals, but home care isn't always that simple. There are patients with limited mobility, medical conditions, limited access to basic needs, and other factors that can impair how they care for their teeth. There are so many tools we can implement to improve oral health based on the needs of our patients. Lately, I’ve been learning more about oral probiotics, laser technology, and different mouth rinses other than chlorhexidine that can benefit various patients. 

More recent PIRA honorees

Jennifer Barrow
Keisha Johnson

“The guidance I would share with new grads is to find a mentor who can help you after you graduate. I had a lot of hard days my first year as a clinician, and I wouldn't have survived without my mentor, Angela Grover. She was there for every phone call I made when I questioned myself about the little things. She was also my biggest advocate in telling me to never settle for less than what I deserve and what my patients deserve.  

“I think attending continuing education courses is more good advice I can give recent graduates. I didn't attend CEs the first six months after graduation, and I regret that now. I love learning about new things in dentistry, tips on ergonomics, and hearing personal stories from other hygienists. These have all helped mold me. I am always mindful that I still have so much to learn in this profession.” 

Gina noted that hygienists never know when it will be their turn to experience someone being vulnerable with them. She recently had a patient in her chair who is a victim of domestic violence. “Domestic violence happens every day, and as health-care workers it’s our job to advocate for our patients.”  

Gina graduated from University of Nebraska Lincoln with a degree in human development and a specialty in family science. She was elected as student liaison for the Nebraska Dental Hygiene Association in 2021. She has always loved learning and wishes she could go to school forever, as she believes knowledge is power. 

Visit the PIRA website to nominate someone today! Good luck, and we look forward to hearing from many outstanding and qualified colleagues!