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Going mobile to expand dental care

Feb. 13, 2023
Learn how an unintended opportunity to be on a team providing mobile dental care changed this hygienist's outlook on dentistry.

Each month the RDH PIRA (Patient Impact & Rise Above) recognition program, sponsored by Water Pik, Inc., features a dental hygiene clinician who goes the extra mile in their job to change their patients’ lives, influence their patients’ health, and make a daily difference. 

Here we honor Courtney Ruda, BS, RDH, a dental hygienist with a love and passion for dentistry and kids. She hopes to expand the availability for care, especially in the pediatric setting. Here’s her story.

“At a nonprofit office I worked in, I had the opportunity to work on the mobile team. The mobile team was made up of dental assistants, dental hygienists, and a dentist who traveled to various locations to provide care to those in need. Most days were spent caring for kids at a public health building or caring for those who lived in assisted living facilities or nursing homes. Many of these patients did not have the means to receive care at a ‘normal’ dental facility. As a dental care provider, this was a very humbling and satisfying opportunity to see the positive effects our care had on local communities. Even though many COVID tests, screenings, and vaccinations, along with an additional state license, were required to make it all happen, I am forever grateful for the opportunity.

More PIRA winners:

Enhancing the patient experience beyond the chair

A trip to the ER led to a dental passion project

“Since I was the only hygienist in my office who met all the requirements to be on this team, I went to every location and was no longer able to see my regular clinic patients. It was a ‘forced’ opportunity, but one that changed my outlook on dentistry for the better.” 

Courtney graduated from North Dakota State College of Science in the dental assisting program in 2015 and the dental hygiene program in 2019. She then received her bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene from Minnesota State University, Mankato, in 2021. Currently she works in a small-town office in Minnesota with the intention of pursuing a degree in dental therapy.  

Advice to new dental hygiene graduates 

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your coworkers/colleagues. I have learned more tips and tricks from just asking simple questions. Build trust with your patients. Get to know them. I like to travel, and so many patients have given good suggestions. Once that trust is developed, patients are more likely to listen to your recommendations.” 

In her free time, Courtney enjoys being outdoors, reading, and hanging out with friends and family. “Dentistry has changed so much in my lifetime that I am excited to see what the future has to hold!” 

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