Current Job Title and Place of Employment: Dental Hygienist, Klamath Tribal Health and Family Services; Clinical Instructor, Oregon Institute of Technology
How long after graduation did it take you to find a job?
I was very proactive in finding a job prior to graduation, so two weeks after completing dental hygiene school I began my first job as a sterile tech until my hygiene license was finalized.
Did you participate in any externships during your time at Oregon Tech?
I participated in the International Externship Program where we travelled to Nicaragua for two weeks. This was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life and it fully prepared me to take clinical boards.
How did you become involved in working with current Oregon Tech students?
In the winter of 2012, Jill Schultz (past dental hygiene department chair) contacted me asking if I would be interested in clinical instructing. Excited at the opportunity to help other future hygienists and expand on my hygiene skills, I accepted the position. After taking a few years off to raise my two children, I received another email asking for help at the school. In September 2016, I signed back on with the dental hygiene department.
How do you feel your time at Oregon Tech prepared you for your current job?
When I went in to take both of my national written and clinical exams to obtain my licensure as a dental hygienist, I felt very prepared and confident that I would succeed. The dental hygiene instructors provided one-on-one feedback and prepared us to be great clinicians.
Is there anything you wish you would have done during your time at Oregon Tech that you didn’t?
I am currently attending Oregon Tech again to complete all of my dental prerequisites required to apply for dental school. If I could go back in time, I wish I would have continued my education and completed these classes I am taking now. But every person has their own journey to create, and although it is atypical from the standard student, it has been one full of rewards. I have gained 8 years of experience in a career that I absolutely love and I have worked with some very amazing dental professionals.
Do you maintain professional relationships with any of your professors?
Working at the school, I have reconnected with many of the faculty that taught me. Some instructors have left, but the ones that are still there remember me and have been so encouraging and supportive towards my career goals.
What advice would you give to a current Dental Hygiene student at Oregon Tech?
Take advantage of every opportunity presented to you. Go to every dental event, health fair, and off-site campus experience that you can attend. The more you put yourself out there, the more you will be remembered, and the more likely you will make the connections you need to be successful in your career.
How did you grow, professionally, as a result of your connection to Oregon Tech?
Oregon Tech provided many opportunities and a strong education to give me an advantage as a new dental hygienist entering the workforce. I feel like many offices look for the OIT degree because the program has been very successful in producing competent and skilled clinicians. After working one year in private practice, I landed my dream job in a public health setting and have been working at this office for over seven years.
Please share briefly, what your future plans may be in your professional field.
My plans for the future include obtaining a dental degree from the Oregon Health and Science University, then returning back to the Klamath Basin to work hopefully as a dentist for the Klamath Tribes. I have always had a passion for public health dentistry and have strong ties to this community.
I would also like to continue helping with Oregon Tech’s dental hygiene program as I have a strong connection to the school and the dental profession in its entirety. It is so important to maintain the level of competency and commitment this school provides for its students and I love being a part of that.