Most dentists will agree that having good dental hygienists is a very important factor in establishing a successful dental practice. They see most of our patients more often than we do! Lisa says her favorite part about being a dental hygienist was the relationships she was able to form with her patients. “It was so rewarding knowing that every day I could make a positive impact on overall community health one person at a time,” explains Lisa. “There was not a day that went by that I didn’t feel like I had helped someone in some way and to me that is one of the most important goals to achieve in any health profession.”
Although Lisa loved being a dental hygienist, she realized she could do so much more to help her patients if she became a dentist. She recalls one specific patient who made a big influence on her decision to go to dental school; “I will never forget I had one patient who was so embarrassed to smile because she had never had her teeth cleaned. After her appointment, she starting crying and hugged me because she was so happy her teeth looked better. This moment really impacted me because I realized as a dentist I could do so much more for other patients like her. I realized I could not only improve oral hygiene and oral health but I could also help restore function and aesthetics to patients who needed it.”
Going to hygiene school before dental school certainly gave Lisa an advantage when it came to many aspects of dental school. Her program was great in that she had local anesthesia and nitrous oxide training, something dental students do on a daily basis once they get in clinic. She also mentioned that her dental hygiene training “has helped a lot with just the general knowledge of dental materials, assisting, dental anatomy, instrumentation and working with patients. Overall, I am really thankful I have had the opportunity to work as a dental hygienist and assistant prior to entering dental school.”
We asked Lisa if she had any advice for someone like her who isn’t quite sure what path in the dental field they want to take. Her best piece of advice is to do a lot of job shadowing at varying dental practices. “Each dental practice is different,” says Lisa, “and shadowing at various practices helps you get a better feel for what profession may be the most appealing to you. When trying to decide on a career path decide what is most important to you as career goals and choose a profession that best reflects those goals.”
It is always awesome to learn about the backgrounds of the students at UAB SOD. We all have different stories of what brought us to dental school and we thank Lisa for sharing her story with us this week!
Author: Kelsey Gwin, Class of 2021